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Many parliamentary systems allow MPs (members of parliament) to be ministers at the same time.

But assuming that ministers cannot serve in parliamentary committees simultaneously, this creates a number problem where the governing party may not have enough people to serve in committees (because too many MPs are already ministers).

I'm curious how do they overcome this problem? Examples:

  • Increase the number of MPs?

  • Require non-ministerial MPs of governing party to accept more workload?

  • Decrease the size of parliamentary committee?

It might be helpful to look at relatively small legislatures as they would run into this problem more often.

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  • Are you specifically looking for actions that were done at specific points in time when nations were unable to find enough members for committees? Or do you want general information on committee composition and size in different countries (things like having people sit on multiple committees)?
    – Stuart F
    Apr 1, 2023 at 10:33
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    In large countries, the number of ministers is usually far less than the number of members of the parliament. Plus, while ministers are always from the ruling coalition, committee members might not be.
    – whoisit
    Apr 1, 2023 at 11:10
  • @StuartF The later one. I'm thinking specifically about countries with small parliament, such as Iceland or New Zealand, where - once you subtract the ministers - the number of MPs available to sit on committees might be overstretched (unless committees are small). Apr 1, 2023 at 16:42
  • @whoisit Yes, but regarding your second point, the governing coalition still needs to make sure they occupy a majority of seats in committees to ensure smooth legislative process. Apr 1, 2023 at 16:44
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    I'm not sure you can presume proportionate party representation on committees applies in all systems or even all committees in any given system. Apr 1, 2023 at 23:34

2 Answers 2

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This is unlikely to be a problem. In the UK Parliament 326 seats are required for a majority. Typically the winning party will have won over 350, often over 400 seats.

The legal maximum number of Ministers is 109, and some of these Ministerial roles will be held by Lords, so there would normally be 250 - 300 backbench MPs in the governing party. The losing party probably has fewer MPs in total!

Therefore there is no shortage of MPs to fill the positions on standing committees, select committees and so on.

The UK has a particularly large Parliament, but even for smaller Parliaments, many MPs on the governing side won't have government jobs.

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    And most countries have MUCH fewer ministers than the UK does, so that too means that the problem never arises there.
    – wonderbear
    Apr 1, 2023 at 12:57
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The New Zealand House of Representatives has a notional size of 120 MPs (actual numbers can differ depending on MMP creating an overhang) and generally around 20 committees with between 6-12 MPs each.

The composition depends on the number of MPs the governing party or parties have.

For example, in the last parliament (2017-2020) the opposition had a majority on the epidemic response committee that was scrutinizing the response to the COVID pandemic. It also had the chair of several other committees that were split 50/50 with the governement.

In the current Parliament, the Labour party won an absolute majority so had enough MPs to have a majority in all but one select committee.

Sharing select committees with the opposition doesn't seem to have hampered the smooth functioning of governing very much.

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