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2 June 2008
PROC 4/07


The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee on Procedures today published a report on the structures and systems of Assembly committees.

The report contains recommendations which will improve scrutiny and the practical workings of the committees in the Assembly.

Speaking on Monday, the Lord Morrow of Clogher Valley, the Chairperson of the Committee on Procedures, said:

“The Committee recognises that the role of committees is an important and vital aspect to the overall work of the Assembly. In many ways they are the power house of the Assembly where much of the real work gets done to help improve government in Northern Ireland.

“In its inquiry, conducted over the past year, the Committee focused on how the systems and structures which support the work of committees could be improved.”

Lord Morrow suggested that the proposed changes will improve the capacity of committees to scrutinise the business of government. Further, it will foster an environment of increased co-operation between committees and the executive.

“The key recommendation is to allow for joint committees which should improve scrutiny of the many issues which cut across two or more departments. The term ‘joined-up government’ is frequently used, but joint committees will allow for joined-up scrutiny of government.”

The second recommendation looked at the practise of committee meetings, comparing Assembly procedure with other legislative bodies and recommends that Assembly practise be reflective of procedures elsewhere regarding quorum.



Background information

There are two types of Northern Ireland Assembly committees. Eleven statutory committees that advise and assist Ministers in the formation of policy with respect to their departmental responsibilities; and six permanent standing committees that aid the Assembly in the completion of its duties.

The powers of the statutory committees are descibed in strand one of the Belfast Agreement as those of scrutiny, policy development, legislation initiation, and consultation.

The standing committees, as stipulated in the Standing Orders of the Assembly, are the Assembly and Executive Review Committee, the Audit Committee, the Business Committee, the Committee on Procedures, the Committee on Standards and Priveleges, and the Public Accounts Committee.

Committee Membership:

Lord Morrow (DUP) (Chairperson)
Mervyn Storey (DUP) (Deputy Chairperson)
Mickey Brady1
Francie Brolly (SF)
Lord Browne (DUP)
Willie Clarke (SF)
Raymond McCartney (SF)
David McClarty (UUP)
Adrian McQuillan (DUP)
Sean Neeson ( Alliance)
Declan O’Loan (SDLP)
Ken Robinson (UUP)

Enquiries about the work of the Committee should be directed to the Clerk of the Committee, Ms Stella McArdle, Room 430, Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast BT4 3XX. Telephone 028 90521475 or to the Chairperson, Room 35, Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast BT4 3XX.

For other information contact: Stephanie Mallon, Press Office, Northern Ireland Assembly Information Office, Room B2, Parliament Buildings, Belfast BT4 3XX. Telephone 028 90521137, Mobile 07825 146794

1 Mickey Brady replaced Willie Clarke on the Committee on Procedures on 20 th May 2008