Legacy Report

Remit, Powers and Membership

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, which amended the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

1.2 Section 29A(1)(a) of the 1998 Act states that:

(1) Standing orders shall make provision—

    (a) for establishing a committee to examine such matters relating to the functioning of the Assembly and the Executive Committee as may be specified in the standing orders;

1.3 Standing Order 59 further details the specific matters that the committee must consider. These are:

  • consider the operation of Sections 16A to 16C of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and, in particular, whether to recommend that the Secretary of State should make an order amending that Act and any other enactment so far as may be necessary to secure that they have effect, as from the date of the election of the 2011 Assembly, as if the executive selection amendments had not been made;
  • make a report to the Secretary of State, the Assembly and the Executive Committee, by no later than 1 May 2015, on the operation of Parts III and IV of the Northern Ireland Act 1998;
  • consider such other matters relating to the functioning of the Assembly or the Executive as may be referred to it by the Assembly;
  • review the arrangements for the appointment and removal of judicial office holders.

1.4 The powers of the Assembly and Executive Review Committee are expressed in Standing order 59 of the Assembly’s Standing Orders:

59 (2) The committee may –

(a) exercise the power in section 44(1) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998;

1.5 Section 44(1) of the Northern Ireland Act outlines what these powers are:

44 (1) The Assembly may require any person –

to attend its proceedings for the purpose of giving evidence; or to produce documents in his custody or under his control, relating to any of the matters mentioned in subsection (2).

2) Those matters are –

Transferred matters concerning Northern Ireland;

Other matters in relation to which statutory functions are exercisable by Ministers or the Northern Ireland departments.

2.0 Membership

2.1 The Committee has eleven members including a Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson with a quorum of five. The current membership of the Committee is as follows:

Mr Jimmy Spratt (Chairperson)
Mr Alex Maskey (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Jonathan Bell
Mr Fred Cobain
Mr Tom Elliott
Mr Paul Givan
Mr Simon Hamilton
Mr Raymond McCartney
Mr Conall McDevitt
Mr Declan O’Loan
Mr Pat Sheehan

3.0 Committee Work Areas

3.1 Over the course of the mandate since its establishment in May 2007 the committee
has addressed two key issues:

  • The Devolution of Policing and Justice; and
  • The Review of the Operation of Sections 16A to 16C of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.
The Devolution of Policing and Justice

3.2 The committee carried out a substantial formal inquiry into the devolution of policing and justice matters. In the course of the inquiry the committee met on 20 occasions between 11 September 2007 and 26 February 2008 during which it considered written and oral evidence from a range of individuals and organizations. Political parties also made submissions during the course of the inquiry. The Report on the Inquiry into Policing and Justice Matters (22/07/08R) based on the committee’s consideration of the issues presented in submissions and during witness sessions, was subsequently published on 28 February 2008.

3.3 On 23 September 2008 the Assembly referred to the committee:

a review of progress on the implementation of the recommendations of, and the resolution of outstanding issues identified in, the Report on the Inquiry into the Devolution of Policing and Justice Matters (22/07/08R).

3.4 The committee considered the views of the First and deputy First Minister and the leaders of all the political parties represented in the Assembly and decided to publish its report in two stages.

3.5 The First Report on the Arrangements for the Devolution of Policing and Justice (22/08/09R) which subsequently followed dealt with some, but not all, of the issues that needed to be addressed before a request would be made to transfer policing and justice matters.

3.6 The committee’s Second Report on the Arrangements for the Devolution of Policing and Justice Matters (42/09/10R) was published on 9 March 2010 in time to inform Members of its consideration of relevant matters including the financial implications of the devolution of policing and justice matters; the role of the Attorney General; the arrangements for the appointment, and removal, of judicial office holders; North/South policing and justice agreements; parading; the Public Prosecution Service; and the Justice Minister’s position in the Northern Ireland Executive.

Review of the Operation of Sections 16A to 16C of the Northern Ireland Act 1998

3.7 At its first meeting in September 2010 the committee decided to take forward two issues:

  • The ‘size’ of the Assembly in terms of the number of MLAs; and
  • The operation of sections 16A to 16C of the Northern Ireland Act 1998

3.8 While it awaited the outcome of the passage of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill through Westminster which would impact on the ‘size’ of the Assembly, the committee decided to focus on reviewing the operation of sections 16A to 16C of the Northern Ireland Act which was a specific requirement under section 29A of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and Standing Order 59 (3)(a) and (b).

3.9 To facilitate this, the committee sought submissions from all the political parties and independent Members represented in the Assembly.

3.10 Although the committee recognized the importance attached to reaching a consensus on this important issue ultimately this could not be achieved.

3.11 The committee considered two proposals and divided on both.

3.12 The committee decided by a majority vote to recommend to the Secretary of State that he should not make an order reversing the effects of the executive selection amendments.

3.13 The committee agreed to write to the Secretary of State indicating the committee’s position that section 16C(6) should be removed from the
Northern Ireland Act 1998.

3.14 The Report on the Review of the Operation of Sections 16A to 16C of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 was published on 31 January 2011.

3.15 The report was debated by the Assembly on 31 January 2011 and the following motion was agreed by the Assembly:

That this Assembly approves the Report of the Assembly and Executive Review Committee on the Review of the Operation of sections 16A to 16C of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

4.0 The Committee’s Approach

4.1 In relation to the inquiry into the Devolution of Policing and Justice Matters the
committee adopted a wide-ranging consultation approach.

4.2 The committee met on 20 occasions taking written and oral evidence from a range of individuals and organizations, including the NIO as well as submissions from two expert witnesses. In addition it also accepted submissions from the political parties.

4.3 The subsequent consideration of outstanding issues which were dealt with in two reports on the Arrangements for the Devolution of Policing and Justice Matters was achieved by considering the views of the First and deputy First Minister and the leaders of all the political parties represented in the Assembly.

4.4 In considering the operation of sections 16A to 16C of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 the committee sought submissions from all the parties and independent members represented at the Assembly.

4.5 The committee met on 10 occasions to consider this issue.

5.0 Future Work Programme

5.1 The committee reviewed its work programme with a view to recommending work
priorities to the incoming committee.

5.2 The committee agreed that the key piece of work to be carried forward in the new mandate is to review the arrangements for the appointment and removal of judicial office holders.

5.3 However, in accordance with Standing Order 64A (Matters of Joint Concern: Disposal by one Committee) the Chairs of the AERC and the Committee for Justice met to discuss which of the committees will take this issue forward, given the concerns that have been raised by members of the AERC. The Chairs agreed that the Committee for Justice should carry out this review.

5.4 At its meeting on 22 March 2011 the committee also agreed that the Committee for Justice should take this review forward.

5.5 The committee would advise the incoming committee to liaise closely with the incoming Committee for Justice to ensure a change in Standing Orders to establish a statutory basis for the transfer of this responsibility.

5.6 The incoming committee should review the ‘size’ of the Assembly in the context of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011.

Appendix 1

Changes in Membership

Over the course of current mandate the Committee has had a number of membership changes. These are detailed below:

Democratic Unionist Party Mr Jonathan Bell 4,11

Mr Paul Givan 10

Mr Simon Hamilton 3

Mr Jimmy Spratt (Chairperson) 1
Sinn Fein Mr Alex Maskey (Deputy Chairperson) 2,7

Mr Raymond McCartney

Mr Pat Sheehan 14
Social Democratic and Labour Party Mr Conall McDevitt 8

Mr Declan O’Loan 5.9.12
Ulster Unionist Party Mr Fred Cobain 6

Mr Tom Elliott 13

1 Rt. Hon Jeffrey Donaldson resigned from the Committee with effect from 26 February 2008 and was replaced by Mr Jimmy Spratt on 04 March 2008
2 With effect from 20 May 2008 Mr Alex Maskey replaced Ms Carál Ní Chuilín
3 With effect from 15 September 2008 Mr Simon Hamilton replaced Mr Ian McCrea and Mr Ian Paisley Jnr replaced Mr George Robinson
4 With effect from 15 September 2009 Rt. Hon Nigel Dodds replaced Mr Nelson McCausland
5 With effect from 15 January 2010 Mrs Carmel Hanna resigned as an MLA and with effect from 26 January 2010 Mr Declan O'Loan was appointed as a Member of the Committee
6 With effect from the 31 March 2010 Mr Alan McFarland stood down from membership of the Committee and on 19 April 2010 Mr Fred Cobain was appointed as a Member of the Committee
7 On 13 April 2010 Mr Alex Maskey replaced Mr Raymond McCartney as Deputy Chairperson. Mr Raymond McCartney remained as a Member of the Committee
8 With effect from 24 May 2010 Mr Conall McDevitt replaced Mr Alex Attwood
9 With effect from 7 June 2010 Ms Margaret Ritchie replaced Mr Declan O'Loan
10 With effect from 21 June 2010 Mr Ian Paisley Jnr resigned as an MLA and with effect from 27 September 2010 Mr Paul Givan was appointed as a Member of the Committee
11 With effect from 10 September 2010 Rt. Hon Nigel Dodds resigned as an MLA and with effect from 13 September 2010 Mr Jonathan Bell was appointed as a Member of the Committee
12 With effect from 11 October 2010 Mr Declan O'Loan replaced Ms Margaret Ritchie
13 With effect from 8 November 2010 Mr Tom Elliott replaced Mr Danny Kennedy
14 With effect from 13 December 2010 Mr Pat Sheehan replaced Mr John O’Dowd

Appendix 2

Assembly and Executive Review Committee

Committee meetings & visits

Session
Number of meetings held
Percentage minutes public / closed
Number of meetings held outside Parliament Buildings
Number of committee visits
2007
3
100% public
0% closed
0
0
2007/2008
25
90.2% public
9.8% closed
0
0
2008/2009
31
83.9% public
16.1% closed
0
3
2009/2010
26
67% public
33% closed
0
0
2010/11
14
45.3% public
54.7% closed
0
0

Committee Inquiries

Session
Name of report Committee Report (ordered to print)  Date debated in Plenary
2007/2008
Report on the Inquiry into the Devolution of Policing and Justice Matters Report: 22/07/08R
(26/02/08)
11/03/08

Committee Reports (excluding Bill and Inquiry reports)

Session
Name of report Date (date approved by Committee) Date debated in Plenary (if appropriate
2008/2009
First Report on the Arrangements for the Devolution of Policing and Justice Matters Report: 22/08/09R
(06/01/09)
20/01/09
2009/2010
Second Report on the Arrangements for the Devolution of Policing and Justice Matters Report:
NIA 42/09/10R
(25/02/10)
09/03/10

End of Session Report 2009-2010 (14/09/10)
2010/11
Review of the Operation of Sections 16A to 16C of the NI Act 1998 Report:
NIA 36/10/11R
(18/01/11)
31/01/11

End of Session Report 2010-2011 (22/03/11)

Legacy Report (22/03/11)

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