Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee


In July, a secret ballot of MPs selected Dr Andrew Murrison, the former Northern Ireland and Defence Minister, to replace the outgoing Northern Ireland Affairs Committee Laurence Robertson as Chair.

Following his appointment, parties then conducted an internal ballot to appoint members of the committee, later agreed by the House. Expected to reflect the balance of political parties in the house, there has been criticism over the fact that despite only having 10 MPs in total, the DUP have three representatives on the group, while there is no nationalist representation from within Northern Ireland or any representation from Scotland or Wales.

The parliamentary watchdog’s role is to scrutinise the expenditure, administration and policies of the Northern Ireland Office and associated bodies. The bulk of the committee’s work is conducted through enquiries and the results in the production of reports outlining findings and recommendations to the British Government, which then typically has 60 days in which to respond.

Meeting for the first time in September the committee outlined its future programme of work which will include the future of the land border in Ireland. In the prolonged absence of the Executive, the committee has also pledged to investigate new ways to engage with the people of Northern Ireland and ensure their views are represented in their work.

Notable former enquiries carried out by the committee include:

• HM Government support for UK victims of IRA attacks that used Gaddafi-supplied Semtex and weapons;

• the electricity sector in Northern Ireland; and

• corporation tax in Northern Ireland.

As well as the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, there were also places for the DUP’s remaining MPs on other select committees.

Emma Little Pengelly and Paul Girvan, both first time MPs will sit on the International Trade Committee and the Transport Select Committee respectively.

Sammy Wilson will continue to sit on the Brexit committee, while Gareth Robinson will sit on the Defence Select Committee and David Simpson will be a member of the Environment and Rural Affairs Committee.

Party Deputy Leader and Westminster leader Nigel Dodds and Chief Whip Jeffrey Donaldson are the two MPs who are not represented on a select committee.

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