What is the Privileges Committee? And who is on it?

22 March 2023, 11:52 | Updated: 22 March 2023, 14:26

Boris Johnson picture alongside Houses of Parliament
Boris Johnson will stand before the Privilege Committee to discuss whether he misled MPs over Partygate. Picture: Alamy

By Zoe Adams

Who is on the Privileges Committee? And how much power do they actually have? Here's everything you need to know as Boris Johnson prepares to stand before them.

Former Prime Minster Boris Johnson will stand before the Privileges Committee and defend his case which sees him being accused of being in contempt of Parliament over Partygate allegations from 2019.

Mr Johnson will be defending his pledge that he was unaware he misled MPs after he denied he knew of any parties at 10 Downing Street during lockdown.

With his future political career dependent on the outcome, the Privileges Committee will be thoroughly examining the case brought before them after they were commissioned in 2022 to take a further look.

So what exactly is the Privileges Committee? And who sits on it? Here's everything you need to know including how much power they really have.

Read more: Boris Johnson 'could have shut down parties but didn't,' says official as more Partygate evidence released

Read more: Boris Johnson 'looking forward' to Partygate grilling and claims 'not a shred of evidence' he knowingly misled MPs

Policeman standing outside 10 Downing Street
Partygate: Parties happening at 10 Downing Street during lockdown are the key to the Committee's latest investigation. Picture: Alamy

What is the Privileges Committee?

They are a committee which are appointed to consider specific matters relating to privileges of the house. In this case, it's whether Boris Johnson misled his fellow MPs over the Partygate scandal where he claimed he was unaware of any social gatherings happening.

They can only consider matters which are referred to them by the House with the Boris Johnson case being set up after a motion was unanimously passed by the House of Commons in April 2022.

The Committee meets regularly to consider the inquiry brought to them before delivering their final report to the House.

Who is on the Privileges Committee?

The Committee is made up of seven MPs, four Conservatives, two Labour and one SNP. They are elected to serve on the Committee by the House of Commons, in proportion to the parties’ representation in the House.

The Committee’s current Chair is Rt Hon Harriet Harman MP.

A member of the opposition party is typically the Chair of the Committee as its made up mostly of Government MPs. She was chosen following a House motion to appoint her to the Committee where she was then unanimously voted as Chair.

Other members include:

  • Andy Carter - Conservative
  • Alberto Costa - Conservative
  • Laura Farris - Conservative
  • Sir Bernard Jenkin - Conservative
  • Yvonne Fovargue - Labour
  • Allan Dorans - Scottish National Party

Johnson’s key arguments to MPs ahead of committee appearance

What powers do the Privileges Committee have?

The Committee can only issue a report on their findings and deliver it to the House of Commons. They can make recommendations on what they believe happened t as well as advising on sanctions.

Punishments, if any, can include written or public apologies, suspension or expulsion.

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