Legislative committees allow for detailed examination of matters in a way that would not be possible in the larger House of Assembly. They are composed of Members of the Legislative Assembly from all parties, who are appointed by the House to examine and report on specific areas. Members of the public may observe the proceedings during public meetings. There are three kinds of legislative committees:
Permanent committees established under the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly. They may study matters within specific areas of responsibility as outlined in the Rules, or matters referred to them by the House. They may also undertake studies on their own initiative.
Committees of the Whole House
These include all MLAs and they meet in the legislative chamber. If the House recesses to sit as one of these committees, the Mace is placed under the table, the Speaker leaves the chamber, and the Chair of the Committee of the Whole, the Deputy Speaker, takes the Speaker's place at the head of the table. The Rules of the House apply, but there is no limit on the number of times a member may speak.
Select or Special Committees
These ad hoc committees are created by an order or resolution of the House of Assembly to investigate a particular issue. In Nova Scotia, there is no difference between a select and a special committee.