A means to an end and an end in itself: select committee membership, parliamentary roles and parliamentary careers, 1979-present

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Coventry University
  • University of Lincoln


Committees are important vehicles for parliamentary careers both as means to a (ministerial) end and as an end in themselves. This article explores the relationship between select committee membership and parliamentary career by analysing committee membership and frontbench appointments for the 2130 Members of Parliament (MPs) first elected since 1979. We focus on two of Donald Searing's four informal backbench roles - Policy Advocates and Parliament Men and Women - and three of the four formal leadership roles - Whips, Junior Ministers and Ministers. The membership patterns of select committees suggest that MPs approach this aspect of their parliamentary work in different ways concomitant with the roles of Generalist and Specialist Policy Advocates and Good House of Commons Men and Women. The membership patterns also suggest that different groups of MPs - by party, gender and ethnicity - often (choose or are forced to) approach committee work in different ways. We also find membership of some committees is more strongly associated with leadership roles than others.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)799-820
Number of pages22
JournalParliamentary Affairs
Issue number4
Early online date5 Sep 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


  • House of Commons, Legislative Committees, Parliament, Political Careers, Select Committees, UK

ASJC Scopus subject areas