Parliament’s role is to represent the people and hold government to account. There are various ways in which individual MPs can contribute to this. They can get involved through their constituency work or ministerial roles. But there are other ways that parliament can carry out its representative role. One of these is to engage the public in decision-making and evidence gathering to inform parliaments work. Select committees offer great opportunities for engaging the public but they could do more.
The quantity and quality of public engagement conducted by parliamentary committees across the UK’s parliaments has significantly increased in recent years. In early 2018 Involve ran the Citizens’ Assembly on Social Care with the Housing, Communities and Local Government & the Health and Social Care Select Committees. Yet select Committees are broadly failing to meaningfully engage the public on policy issues.
Public engagement by parliamentary committees has the potential to boost trust and improve the flow of information between the public and parliament. In conducting it MPs are given new ways to represent their constituents, centred around the issues about which the public cares most. It can also transform parliament’s – and MPs’ – ability to reflect the needs, concerns and voices of the people they represent.
What we did
Invovle wrote a report for the Outreach and Engagement Service at the Houses of Parliament. The report which acts as a practical guide to public engagement has three sections.
This publication is a guide for select committees. It outlines a range of face-to-face engagement methods that select committees could use to engage the public and stakeholders in their inquiries and other work. The report highlights top tips, practical advice and past case studies to make its case. In Section Three there is a methods library of nine engagement techniques that committees could use to involve the public and stakeholders in their work.
Sections One and Two provide best practice advice and tips about how to:
- Choose the right engagement method to deliver the impact and information a committee needs;
- Make the method a success from the perspective of everyone involved, including both the committee and participants.
Section Three, the guide’s main component, is a method library of nine engagement techniques committees could use to involve the public and stakeholders in their work. It includes method descriptions, top tips and facts, and case studies.
What was achieved
In May and April 2018 Involve was commissioned to run the Citizens’ Assembly on Social Care by the Health and Social Care & the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committees.
The project resulted in the report "Innovations for select committee engagement". This ia a guide for select committees and includes a methods library with tips and case studies to guide engagement with the public.
For more information contact Sarah Allan [email protected]