Once a report is agreed, a publication date will be set and a press release prepared. Most committees delegate this to the chair, but some may wish to sign this off collectively.
Reports and press releases are usually sent under embargo, up to three days ahead of publication, to:
• the media, to let them prepare stories or broadcasts • witnesses, to let them prepare their own media or other responses
The chair, and sometimes other committee members, may be invited to give interviews to the media on a report. The committee’s media officers are responsible for organising this, and the committee’s staff may provide speaking notes or bullet points in addition to the press notice and the report itself, if required.
Committees also very occasionally hold press conferences on a report, usually a day or two before publication and under embargo.
Opportunities for debate
Once a report is published, select committees may wish to promote debate among other MPs on their findings. There are three principal opportunities:
- Select committee statement: a select committee chair (or other committee member) can make a statement about the launch of a report in the Chamber in backbench business time. Applications should be made to the Backbench Business Committee and the statement has to be made within five sitting days of the report’s publication. During these statements, the chair can speak for up to 10 minutes and then take questions from MPs for another 10 to 15 minutes. Statements can also be made about the launch of an inquiry.
- Westminster Hall: a select committee chair can seek to debate a report in Westminster Hall. Twenty Thursdays per session are allocated for this purpose. The Liaison Committee chooses which reports are debated.
- Debates in the main Chamber: under an experiment, the Liaison Committee can propose debates in the main Chamber on three of the days set aside for backbench business.
Select committee reports may also be relevant to other matters being debated in the House, including legislation. A committee chair can ask for a report to be ‘tagged’ to an item on the Order Paper. If the MP in charge of the business agrees, a note appears under that item drawing attention to the relevant report. The Speaker may consider giving some priority in the debate to the MPs involved in that particular report.