THE CONVENERS GROUP
1. The Conveners Group comprises the Presiding Officer and the conveners of the mandatory and subject committees in terms of Rule 6.A.1. The Deputy Presiding Officers may attend and participate but are not members of the Group (Rule 6A.3.6). The Group is not a committee for the purposes of Standing Orders (Rule 6A.2.2).
2. The functions of the Group set out in Rule 6A.2 are as follows:
3. Under Rule 6A.3, the Presiding Officer convenes and chairs meetings of the Group. In practice, the Presiding Officer delegates this function to one of the Deputy Presiding Officers. However, when chairing the Group a deputy Presiding Officer does not take on the Presiding Officer’s role as a member of the Group. Accordingly, a deputy Presiding Officer chairing the meeting does not count toward the quorum of the Group which requires 5 members from 3 or more political parties to be present (Rule 6A.3.3). Where the membership of the Group is drawn from 3 or fewer political parties and any of those political parties has only one member of the Group, the quorum is reduced to 5 members from 2 or more political parties (Rule 6A.3.3A).
4. The Group can decide when and how frequently it meets. Currently, it normally meets once a month on the third Thursday of the month, whilst the Parliament is suspended for a lunch break. Rule 6A.3.2 provides that the Group shall normally meet in private and that has been the practice so far.
5. There is no provision in the Rules for voting and, under Rule 6A.3.4, decisions require agreement from all members present, which is achieved by reaching a consensus view.
6. The Group enables conveners to meet and discuss matters of mutual interest and, where appropriate, make recommendations. In addition to reaching decisions, jointly with the Bureau, on the location of committee meetings and travel by committee members outside the United Kingdom, the Group also prioritises the use of budgets for fact finding trips within the United Kingdom, externally commissioned research for the committees and committee sponsored events.
7. Examples of other work undertaken by the Group include making recommendations to the Procedures Committee in relation to the publication of this Guidance and the Guidance for Conveners and making recommendations to the Presiding Officer leading to the introduction of a pilot scheme to give committee representatives a speaking slot in Stage 1 debates.
8. The Group does, however, only have decision making powers where specifically stated in Rule 6A.2 and its role is otherwise consultative or advisory. The Parliament's Annual Report each year contains a section providing information about the work of the Conveners Group in the relevant year. The Conveners Group page on the Parliaments website contains notes of decisions taken by the Group and a link to the Guidance for Conveners which was approved by the Procedures Committee on 16 March 2004.