The departments bring advisory committees into existence because they feel the need of obtaining knowledge either from experts or from interested parties. Where discussion proceeds by way of conversation rather than of set debate and the members sit round the table, the discussion is effective, difficulties are removed, misunderstanding eliminated, objections brought to light, compromises suggested and finally a modus Vivendi reached. This is the real purpose of consultation. If the size of the committees is small, there is give and take of discussion round the table and appreciation of each other’s point of view. Professor Wheare, accordingly, suggests that where an advisory body is large, it can be effective only if it breaks itself into sub-committees, and meets as a full committee to discuss the reports of these sub-committees, or to discuss certain questions of general principle. “In fact most advisory committees,” as Professor Wheare says, “are small, and where they are large they break up into panels or sub-committees. If they do not do so it is difficult to escape the conclusion either that they do not mean business or that they are intended to do business.
” Fifteen or near about is an effective number. “It is wise to guard against advisory committees being too big,” further says Professor Wheare, “it is wise also to guard against the members themselves being too big.” There is a general tendency to appoint to some committees, particularly at the national level, eminent and distinguished persons “who are found in practice so eminent and so busy and so remote from the day-to-day work of the organisation they represent, that they are in fact not of much use as advisers.” They “circulate” from one advisory committee to another, seldom knowing about the business of any one committee. They are so much preoccupied in other matters that they have neither the time nor the initiative to master a subject and contribute to the discussion which is the purpose of the advisory committees.
Professor Wheare, accordingly, suggests that advisory committees composed of less eminent people can really do valuable work. “The best advice is often to be obtained,” he says, “from persons of less eminence, still so little in demand that they are able to master fully one branch of knowledge or activity.” Shriram Maheshwari, in his paper on the “Advisory Committees in the Central Government (India), suggests that “while appointing persons on these committees, the primary consideration should be their qualifications, experience and probity.” He further suggests that since committee work is in addition to a man’s principal avocation, “he should be required to submit his occupation workload and other preoccupations, and the Government should evolve suitable yardsticks to ascertain objectively whether he may spare time adequate enough for the work of the committee.” Then, the consultative committees must necessarily be representative of two kinds of members: (a) majority of the total membership should be chosen representatives of the interests concerned with and affected by the decisions of the department; and (b) a small minority nominated by the Minister to represent technical knowledge and experience, and special interests indirectly affected by the policies of the department. Laski suggests nomination for a period of three years subject to the renewal of the terms, depending upon the absolute discretion of the appointing body. As regards the election of the members, he says, they “should preferably be elected by the Councils of their nominating bodies, miners by the executive of the Miners’ Federation, teachers by the Council of the National Union of Teachers, and so forth. They should also be paid for their services sufficiently to compensate for lost time, but not enough to make their election sought after on grounds of income.
” The emphasis on representative element is of recent origin. It is the result both of the maturity of the representative principle in the modern world “and of the recognition that though legislatures may have the plentitude of authority, they have not the plentitude of wisdom.”