Northern Ireland Assembly Flax Flower Logo



Mr Sammy Wilson MP MLA (Chairperson)
Mr Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Barry McElduff MLA
Lord Morrow 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 Jonathan Young, Clerical Officer

Mr Gregory Campbell MP MLA
Mr Fred Cobain MLA
Mr Jeffrey Donaldson MP MLA
Mr Mark Durkan MP MLA
Mr Robin Newton MLA
Mr Patsy McGlone MLA
Mr John O’Dowd MLA
Ms Sue Ramsey, MLA

The meeting opened at 1.16 p.m. in closed session

  1. Chairperson’s introduction

The Chairperson welcomed all present to the meeting. The Chairperson advised members that, due to the limited time available for the meeting, he intended to take agenda item 4 first as a reply on this matter was due by 29 February 2008.

  1. Minutes of the meeting of 19 February 2008

The minutes of the meeting of 19 February 2008 were agreed.

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

The chairpersons considered the initial findings of the Committee on Procedures on a range of issues relating to committee systems and structures including the size of committee membership, quorum, voting arrangements, joint committees, timing of committee meetings, use of substitutes and use of rapporteurs.

Agreed: Further consideration should be given to reducing the size of committee membership to 9.

Agreed: If the size of committee membership was reduced to 9 then the most appropriate quorum would be 4. If the size of committee membership remained at 11 then the quorum should continue to be 5.

Agreed: The quorum should be reduced to 3 for committee membership of 9 or 4 for committee membership of 11 under certain limited circumstances such as evidence sessions which are covered by Hansard, talking to witnesses and discussions that do not required any decisions or votes.

Agreed: The use of substitutes on committees should not be introduced at this time but the issue should be revisited by the Committee on Procedures in the future if necessary.

Agreed: The Liaison Group was not in favour of the use of rapporteurs.

Agreed: It is a matter for each individual committee as to when it meets and there should be no change regarding the days on which committees meet.

Agreed: Committees should be encouraged to experiment with the timing of committee meetings to suit their own schedule and work requirements including meeting at different times or meeting for a longer period once every two weeks.

Agreed: There should be no change to the voting arrangements in committees.

Agreed: The issue of joint committees should be explored further.

Agreed: The provision of Standing Order 59 for the overlap of committee business should remain in place.

Agreed: A response outlining the conclusions reached should be forwarded to the Committee on Procedures.

  1. Other issues relating to committees referred by the Committee on Procedures

The chairpersons considered a number of other issues regarding committees that were raised during the survey of Members conducted by the Committee on Procedures in relation to its inquiry into committee systems and structures.

Agreed: Research should be undertaken into the feasibility and cost of the provision of live broadcast feeds from each committee room.

Agreed: The attendance of members at committee meetings should be published at the end of each Assembly session.

  1. Specialist Advisers

The Chairperson of the Committee for Finance and Personnel requested that consideration be given by the Liaison Group to additional uses of specialist advisers by committees. The chairpersons discussed the arrangements currently in place for the provision of specialist advisers and support to committees.

Agreed: Research should be undertaken on the use of specialist advisers by committees in other legislatures and possible options for additional arrangements.

Agreed: The matter should be placed on the agenda for further consideration at a future meeting.

  1. Date and time of next meeting

The next meeting of the Liaison Group will be held on Tuesday 11 March 2008 at 12.30 p.m. in Room 21.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.38 p.m.

Mr Sammy Wilson,

11 March 2008

22 January 08  / Menu