Accountability of government under scrutiny at special seminar
Aimed at voluntary and community organisations, the seminar explored the concept of scrutiny of government as a key element of maintaining a healthy democracy.
Speaking after the event, which was part of NICVA’s European Union PEACE III funded Vital Links project, Lisa McElherron, Head of Public Affairs at NICVA said:
“We were delighted to host this event as part of the larger Political Studies Association conference, and to welcome both The Speaker and The Lord Speaker to engage with the voluntary and community sector. Voluntary and community organisations believe that people in Northern Ireland deserve a strong and inclusive democracy.
"This morning’s event explored the effectiveness of some of the important tools we have for holding government to account, as well as discussing topical issues such as the role of an official opposition, the pros and cons of having an upper chamber like the House of Lords and the role of Northern Ireland MPs in the House of Commons.”
Speaker of the House of Commons, Mr John Bercow stated:
“I am delighted to attend this event today. A strong part of my role is outreach, to meet individuals and organisations from all sectors as an advocate for politics and to talk on the importance of participation. Northern Ireland’s elected representatives, more than ever before, are more actively involved in debates taking place in the House of Commons on a wide range of issues.”
Mr Bercow continued:
“The voluntary and community sector should have the opportunity to engage with legislation, and influence it. This is why it is so important that I attend events such as these, and talk about the role of the outreach services.”
The Lord Speaker, Baroness D’Souza stated:
“I am so happy to have been invited to speak here in Belfast. The scrutiny of Government is the core work of the House of Lords. Engagement with organisations like NICVA is crucial for insuring we are fully equipped and informed to hold Government to account.”
The event facilitated a lengthy debate with participants on a range of issues from double jobbing of elected representatives, future reforms of the House of Lords and potential impact, the influence of consultations on draft Bills, pre and post. For those attending, the roles of these institutions which were once shrouded with mystery are now much clearer, giving individuals from voluntary or community organisations more understanding how best to have influence within them.