Northern Ireland Assembly Flax Flower Logo



Members Present:
Mr Sammy Wilson MP MLA (Chairperson)
Mr Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Gregory Campbell MP MLA
Mr Mark Durkan MP MLA
Mrs Carmel Hanna MLA
Mr Danny Kennedy MLA
Dr William McCrea MP MLA
Mr Barry McElduff MLA
Mr Robin Newton MLA
Mr John O’Dowd MLA
Mrs Iris Robinson MP MLA

In Attendance:
Ms Nuala Dunwoody Clerk Assistant
Mr John Torney, Principal Clerk
Mrs Christine Darrah, Clerk to the Liaison Group
Mrs Mary Curran, Assistant Clerk
Mr Paul Breen, Clerical Supervisor
Mr Jonathon Young, Clerical Officer

Mr Fred Cobain MLA
Lord Morrow MLA
Ms Sue Ramsey MLA

The meeting opened at 12.35 p.m. in closed session

  1. Chairperson’s introduction

The Chairperson welcomed all present to the meeting.

  1. Improvements to committee rooms

12.37p.m. Mrs Norah Anne Barron joined the meeting.

12.38p.m. Mr Mark Durkan joined the meeting.

The Managing Director of Pi Communications, Mrs Norah Anne Barron, made a presentation to the committee on proposals to install two wall mounted 50” plasma screens in each committee room together with a removable lectern.

Agreed: Members agreed, in principle, to the installation of the equipment proposed subject to appropriate procurement procedures being followed

  1. Minutes of the meeting of 26 June 2007

Agreed: The draft minutes of the meeting of 26 June 2007 were agreed.

  1. Matters arising

Members reviewed the statistics on the uptake of dedicated press seats in committee public galleries in the period up to the summer recess. Members also considered a number of alternative options to the current arrangements which provide for 5 dedicated press seats for the first 20 minutes of each committee meeting.

Agreed: Members considered that in future the provision of 3 dedicated press seats for a period of 20 minutes would be more appropriate and that the Chairperson should write to the Speaker advising him of the Group’s views on this matter.

1.01p.m Mrs Robinson, Mrs Hanna and Mr Kennedy left the meeting.

  1. Draft forward work programme

Agreed: Members agreed to defer consideration of the draft forward work programme until the next meeting of the Group.

  1. Response to the Committee on Procedures Inquiry into Electronic Voting in the Assembly

Mr Newton advised that the Democratic Unionist Party was opposed to the introduction of electronic voting; other parties currently had no firm view on the issue.

Agreed: Members agreed that the Committee on Procedures would be advised that the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group currently had no agreed view on the introduction of electronic voting. It was also agreed that if the Group reached a consensus on this matter in the future, the Committee on Procedures would be advised accordingly.

  1. Discussion of the Committee on Procedures Inquiry into Committee Systems and Structures.

Members considered the Procedures Committee’s terms of reference for this inquiry and concluded that it would be premature, at this time, to examine in detail existing committee systems and structures; Members were of the view that a more appropriate time to consider these matters in detail might be closer to the end of the 2007-2008 Assembly session. Members did agree to give further consideration to the issues of the attendance of “substitutes” (for Members) at committee meetings and the arrangements for the participation of substitutes in meetings; Members undertook to report back on the issue of substitutes at the next meeting of the Group.

Agreed: That the Committee on Procedure would be advised that the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group had no agreed view on existing committee systems and structures and that further consideration might be given to these matters closer to the end of the 2007-2008 Assembly session. It was also agreed that further consideration would be given to the use of “committee substitutes” and the Committee on Procedures would be advised of the Group’s views on this matter in due course.

  1. The level of detail included in minutes of proceedings

Members discussed this matter and concluded that the level of detail currently recorded in the minutes of proceedings of committee meetings was satisfactory and appropriately reflected all decisions taken by committees during meetings.

  1. The Availability of Hansard for Committee Meetings

The existing “Protocol on Hansard Services to Committees” was discussed and the core services provided to committees by Hansard staff was explained.

Members expressed satisfaction with the level of service that was being provided to committees by Hansard staff and noted and welcomed the willingness of Hansard staff to provide additional services to committees subject to the availability of resources.

  1. Communication between Committees and Departments

There was discussion about the volume of documentation that was being provided to committees by departments and the timing of the submission of this documentation. Some members reported that committees were, on occasion, receiving papers from departments at short notice and attention was also drawn to the volume of correspondence and documentation received.

Agreed: Members agreed that in order to ascertain the factual position on the volume and timing of the documentation being received, committee clerks would be asked to monitor the receipt of correspondence and documentation; a further report will be made to the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group at its next meeting.

  1. Date and time of next meeting.

The next meeting of the Group will be held on Tuesday 16 October 2007 at 12.30 pm in Room 21.

The meeting closed at 12.56 p.m.

Mr Sammy Wilson,

16 October 2007

26 June 07  / Menu