What is the purpose of the Committee?The Committee for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs is a new Committee, established just after the 2016 elections. As well as having responsibility for farming and rural issues; the environment and environmental policy is now part of the new Committee’s overall remit. The Committee is further tasked with advising and assisting the Minister on all matters within their responsibility.
An important element of the Committee’s work is to undertake a scrutiny, policy development and consultation role with respect to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs. It also plays a key part in the consideration and development of legislation.
How does it work?
Once the Committee has established its work programme, it will look at how it will approach each issue. This could involve consulting with relevant stakeholders, establishing their concerns and determining how best these issues should be tackled and resolved. The Committee will also examine all legislation brought forward by the Department and advise on what it believes is necessary to ensure that all laws are robust and fit for purpose. Throughout the year, the Committee will also examine and monitor Departmental policy, conduct inquiries and produce reports into areas of interest.
A further important component of the Committee’s work is to analyse the Department’s budget and proposed spending. The Committee does this through what are known as ‘Quarterly Monitoring Rounds’, when the Department will prepare and produce reports in June, October and January, outlining its expenditure. The reports detail how the Department has spent its monies to date, if there is any unused money that could be reallocated to the overall Executive budget, if it intends to make any spending changes or if it needs to bid for additional funding.
The Committee invites the Minister and Departmental Officials to attend meetings on a regular basis to update and inform Committee Members on the implementation of current and future policies. This is also an important opportunity for Committee Members to directly question the Minister and Departmental Officials on their work.
Who sits on the Committee?There are 10 MLAs on the Committee for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs
Committee. The Membership is currently:
• Committee Chairperson: Ms Caoimhe Archibald (Sinn Féin) East Londonderry
• Deputy Chairperson: Mr Oliver McMullan (Sinn Féin) East Antrim
• Mr Sydney Anderson (Democratic Unionist Party) Upper Bann
• Mr Maurice Bradley (Social Democratic and Labour Party) East Londonderry
• Mr David Ford (Alliance Party) South Antrim
• Mr William Irwin (Democratic Unionist Party) Newry and Armagh
• Mr Edwin Poots (Democratic Unionist Party) Lagan Valley
• Mr Patsy MGlone (Social Democratic and Labour Party) Mid Ulster
• Mr Harold McKee (Ulster Unionist Party) South Down
• Mr Robin Swann (Ulster Unionist Party) North Antrim
How can I get involved with the work of the Committee?There are lots of ways you can get keep up to date with the work of the Committee.
AttendThe Committee for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs meets each Thursday at 10.00am, when the Assembly is in session.
Watch/listen liveYou can watch the Committee’s meetings live via our website, or if you missed it, the video/audio file will be available for viewing by the next working day.
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Give evidenceCommittees carry out inquiries into specific areas of interest. You can contribute to any of the Committee’s Inquiries by providing evidence during the consultation period. Information on how and when to do this will be advertised in newspapers, via the Committee’s twitter page, in the weekly Committee newsletter and on the Committee’s webpage.
FollowYou can follow the Committee on Twitter @NIAAgriEnvRA
ContactWrite to the Committee Clerk:
Room243, Parliament Buildings,
Belfast, BT4 3XX
Tel: (028) 90 521475
You can also contact any of the Committee Members.