My Lords, the ad hoc committees that the House set up last spring have now started to report. In anticipation, last autumn I invited Members of the House to put forward proposals for what we are now calling special inquiry committees.
I am once again very grateful to all the Members of the House who put forward proposals for special inquiry committees in the next Session. The Liaison Committee has had an excellent range of topics to choose from, and the proposals underline the range and breadth of expertise that is in your Lordships’ House. The committee always has a difficult task in choosing which committees to recommend and, with 27 proposals to choose from, this year was no exception. I hope noble Lords will all agree that the committee’s recommendations cover a wide range of subjects that will make excellent use of Members’ talents and contribute to debate and policy-making in a range of topical and cross-cutting areas.
We agreed the following proposals for special inquiry committees: democracy and digital technologies, proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, and the noble Baroness, Lady O’Neill of Bengarve; food, poverty, health and the environment, proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, and the noble Baroness, Lady Boycott; and the social and economic consequences of the gambling industry, proposed by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans.
As the report states, food, poverty, health and the environment all intersect. That inquiry would examine key issues, including how food can be made both sustainable and affordable. The gambling inquiry would be a wide-ranging study of both the social and economic consequences of this industry, bearing in mind that, with the rise of the internet, gambling is much more accessible than was the case 20 or so years ago.
On the proposed inquiry into democracy and digital technologies, the Political Polling and Digital Media Committee, which reported in April 2018, recommended that a further committee be established to scrutinise issues around digital media and politics that it had not had the opportunity to undertake in detail. Establishing this special inquiry is a response to that recommendation, as well as to the growing prominence of debates around democracy and digital technologies.
Since the appointment of the first House of Lords post-legislative scrutiny committee in May 2012, the House has established a strong reputation for this relatively new aspect of its work. Therefore, we agreed to recommend a post-legislative scrutiny committee to consider the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013.
We considered all the proposals we received against our published set of four criteria, namely: making best use of the knowledge and experience of Members of the House; complementing the work of Commons departmental Select Committees; addressing areas of policy that cross departmental boundaries; and, lastly, whether the inquiry proposed could be confined to one Session. The committee took care and time in coming to its conclusions. I hope the House will agree that our recommendations will provide a timely and manageable set of inquiries for the coming year.
I end on a note of gratitude for the work of all our committees. The enthusiasm with which Members from all sides of the House approach this aspect of our work is exemplary. We should all be proud of the work. I beg to move.