End of Session Report 2008-2009
1.0 Remit and Powers
1.1 The Assembly and Executive Review Committee was established as a Standing Committee in May 2007 to review the functions of the Assembly and the Executive Committee as outlined in Section 11 of the Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2006.
1.2 Section 29B of the 1998 Act directs that The Committee is expressly required to consider the operation of section 16A to 16C of the Act.
1.3 The powers of the Assembly and Executive Review Committee are expressed in Standing Order 59 of the Assembly’s Standing Orders. This gives the Committee the power detailed in section 44 (1) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 to call for persons and papers.
2.1 The Assembly and Executive Review Committee has eleven members including a Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson with a quorum of five. The membership of the Committee is as follows: 1
- Mr Jimmy Spratt (Chairperson) 2
- Mr Raymond McCartney (Deputy Chairperson)
- Mr Alex Attwood
- Mrs Carmel Hanna
- Mr Simon Hamilton 3
- Mr Danny Kennedy
- Mr Nelson McCausland
- Mr Alan McFarland
- Mr Alex Maskey 4
- Mr John O’Dowd
- Mr Ian Paisley Jnr 5
1 At a meeting on 14 October 2008, the Committee agreed to extend ‘observer status’ to those parties represented in the Assembly but not, at that time, represented on the Committee, when the Committee was considering the devolution of policing and justice matters.
2 Mr Jeffrey Donaldson resigned from the Committee with effect from Tuesday, 26 February 2008 and was replaced by Mr Jimmy Spratt on 4 March 2008.
3 With effect from 15 September 2008, Mr Simon Hamilton replaced Mr Ian McCrea
4 With effect from 20 May 2008, Mr Alex Maskey replaced Ms Caral Ni Chuilin.
5 With effect from 15 September 2008, Mr Ian Paisley Jnr replaced Mr George Robinson.
3.0 Key Activities, Outputs and Achievements 2008-2009
3.1 In September 2008, the Committee agreed to seek a fresh mandate from the Assembly relating to the devolution of policing and justice matters. The terms of reference for this work are as follows:
- a review of progress on the implementation of the recommendations of, and the resolution the resolution of outstanding issues identified in, the Report on the Inquiry into the Devolution of Policing and Justice Matters; and
- consideration of any other matter relating to the devolution of Policing and Justice matters.
3.2 Over the month of September 2008 the Committee sought the views of the First Minister and deputy First Minister and the leaders of all the political parties represented in the Assembly on the specific matters which the Committee should consider. In October 2008, the Committee decided on a list of twenty six issues, which it subsequently allocated to one of three categories as follows:
- Category One Issues - to be resolved, within the Committee, pre-devolution.
- Category Two Issues - to be resolved by the Committee, pre-devolution but which might require wider consultation and consideration.
- Category Three Issues - to be resolved, post-devolution.
3.3 During this period the Committee considered a number of written submissions and heard oral evidence prior to 6 January 2009 when it published a report on the Category One List of Issues:
The report was debated at a plenary session of the Assembly on 20 January 2009.
3.4 At its meeting of 13 January 2009, the Committee proceeded to consider the Category Two List of Issues with a view to publishing a second report before the end of 2009.
3.5 On 13 January 2009 the Committee agreed the appointment a Specialist Advisor to assist in its deliberations on the financial implications of devolving policing and justice powers.
3.6 In relation to these financial matters the Committee also sought written submissions from all agencies and organisations within the Policing and Justice field and conducted 12 oral evidence sessions.
3.7 Throughout the year the Committee also commissioned a number of research papers related to its work.
3.8 To aid in its consideration of the Category Two list of issues, the Committee made visits to Westminster, Scotland and Dublin and spoke with a range of individuals:
Westminster 16 & 17 June 2009
The Justice Secretary – Jack Straw
The Chairman and Menbers of the Justice Committee
Scotland 18 June 2009
The Convenor and Members of the Justice Committee
Officials from the Lord Advocate’s office
The Solicitor General
The Justice Minister
Dublin 25 June 2009
The deputy to the Attorney General
The Minister for Foreign Affairs
The Chairman and Members of the Justice Committee
The Justice Minister
The Garda Commissioner
3.9 Other than these 3 visits, the Committee has not convened any meetings outside Parliament Buildings. In total the Committee held 31 meetings.
4.0 Likely Key Priorities for the 2009 – 2010 Session
4.1 The completion of the second report on the arrangements for the devolution of policing and justice matters.
4.2 In addition the Committee is expected to address:
- the matter of Dual Mandates held by Members of the Assembly,
- the work of the proposed Efficiency Review Panel,
- the operation of the Ministerial Code,
- the power to refer Ministerial Decisions to the Executive Committee, and
- the Assembly voting system, designations and cross-community voting .
Assembly and Executive Review Committee – Expenditure for the period 1 September 2008 – 31 August 2009
Committee Travel - committee members and staff travel and subsistence in relation to visits and meetings outside Parliament Buildings
Includes the cost of 3 visits to London, Edinburgh and Dublin.
Printing of committee reports
The Committee produced 1 report:
Consultancy support - the cost of specialist advisers appointed by the committee and commissioned research
Specialist adviser to the Committee on the financial implications of the devolution of Policing and Justice matters.
Cost of refreshments for committee meetings, working lunches, seminars, room hire and witness expenses