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The Portuguese Parliament has standing committees (specialised committees with permanent jurisdiction over specific matters, and which in principle exist in every legislature), and ad hoc committees (established for a limited period of time in order to perform a specific function, culminating in the presentation of a descriptive report on the committee’s work, which must include the conclusions to be drawn therefrom).

Each committee may create subcommittees to look at specific matters that fall within the main committee’s overall areas of competence, although this does require prior authorisation by the President of the Assembleia da República, who will first consult the Conference of Parliamentary Committee Chairmen. Once authorisation has been received from the President of the Assembleia, the subcommittee’s composition and scope are defined by the committee which created it; and at the end of its work, the subcommittee’s conclusions are also submitted to the parent committee.

In addition to subcommittees, committees may also create working groups for specific, temporary purposes. These may be of a legislative nature or to follow up the work on a certain matter.

Committees of inquiry are ad hoc committees bound by specific rules. Their mission is to scrutinise compliance with the Constitution and other laws, and to consider the acts of the Government and the Administration. In addition to complying with the special rules on their formation, duration and modus operandi, committees of inquiry enjoy the same investigative powers as the judicial authorities.