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Parliament and regulators: How can scrutiny be improved?

Dame Meg Hillier and Sir Robert Buckland joined our expert panel to discuss what can be done to strengthen parliament's scrutiny role over regulators.

Panellists on stage at the Institute for Government
From left to right: Mark McAllister, Dame Meg Hillier MP, Dr Matthew Gill and Rt Hon Sir Robert Buckland KC MP discussed the role and scrutiny of regulators.

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The role of regulators is in the spotlight. High-profile regulatory failures and the post-Brexit expansion of domestic regulators’ roles have raised anxieties about both regulators’ performance and their democratic legitimacy. MPs and peers are increasingly concerned about how they can hold regulators to account, with some calling for parliament to take a stronger role.  

But is parliamentary scrutiny of regulators actually effective? Recent IfG research identified serious limitations to existing arrangements, with parliamentary select committees lacking access to regulatory expertise or clarity about which regulators to hold to account. A third of regulators have not been called before parliament since 2019.

So what does good select committee scrutiny of regulators look like? Should parliament spend more time on regulatory scrutiny at the expense of other issues? What support would select committees need to carry out more effective scrutiny? Would an independent body be better placed to carry out proactive scrutiny of regulators?  

These questions were explored in this event, launching the Institute for Government‘s new report Parliament and regulators: How select committees can better hold regulators to account.

We were joined by an expert panel, including:

  • Rt Hon Sir Robert Buckland KC MP, Chair of Regulatory Reform Group
  • Dame Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee
  • Mark McAllister, Chair of Ofgem

The event was chaired by Matthew Gill, Programme Director at the Institute for Government.  The panel discussion followed a brief presentation of the report’s key findings and recommendations from Maddy Bishop, Researcher at the Institute for Government.

Photos from the event can be viewed on our Flickr

Follow us on X (formerly known as Twitter) @instituteforgov and join the conversation using #Regulators.

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24 APR 2024 Report

Parliament and regulators

Almost a third of UK regulators have not been scrutinised by parliament since the 2019 general election.