Tuesday, June 20, 2006

"Very overworked"

Last week, I posted about the Local Government and Environment Select Committee delaying the the two Manukau local bills by four months. In the comments, Tony Milne said that this was because the committee was "very overworked" and had a large amount of business before it (which they do). But looking at the select committee timetable for this week, I see that they're dealing with this backlog by meeting for all of two hours. Not exactly busting a gut to catch up, are they?

I know there are significant constraints on select committee meeting times. Parliament is only in session for three days a week (Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays), and unless they are hearing submissions, committees will usually only meet in the mornings, before the House sits. Tuesday is eaten up by caucus, and MPs are often members of other committees, so some careful timetabling needs to be done. That said, other committees make far more use of the time available. Education and Science, Finance and Expenditure, Government Administration, Health... all are meeting for the full three hours to cope with their busy workloads. Why isn't Local Government?


Hey I/S. The reason for this is pretty simple. This Select Committee was supposed to be in OZ all this week on a Select Committee exchange (pretty common). But National pulled their MPs leave so they can debate a particular bill in the house. The Committee wasn't suppose to be meeting at all in NZ this week. Therefore the Select Committee staff had to pull together a programme at the last minute.

There are usual pretty simple non-conspiricy explanations for these things. Might be worth giving Steve Chadwick's Office a call beforehand....

I still stand by my comment:
"It's an interesting point, because under MMP Select Committees are becoming more important - almost like our second chamber - to scrutinise legislatoin. Yet they are under-resourced and only able to meet for limited time while the house sits"...

Posted by Anonymous : 6/20/2006 12:35:00 PM

So, they'll be meeting for the full three hours next time then?

As for the wider point: Firstly, I think its a very good thing that bills are getting more scrutiny from select committees, and that they are able to devote more time. But generally most seem to manage with the increased workload. As for serious time crunches, as I understand it, MPs aren't actually banned from the Parliamentary complex on Mondays and Fridays; they could always meet then (though this would come at the expense of their constituency work).

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/20/2006 12:55:00 PM

Select Committees are unable to meet other than Tue/Wed morning unless they get special permission (can't remebers if it's from Parliament as a whole, or the Business Committee). And I understand it has to be unanamous or it doesn't go ahead. So its a bit more difficult than just meeting. If the Party's aren't getting on very well, or members of a Committee don't like the Chair then it is very difficult for the Committees to meet outside that set Tue/Wed morning 3 hours.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/20/2006 01:30:00 PM

Looking at the timetable, surely that's Wednesday/Thursday morning?

I don't see the need for permission as a problem. Or rather, if it is a problem, then it is MP's problem to get over it. If they play silly buggers in a way that actually stops them from doing the work we expect them to, they will deserve every bit of flak they get for it.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/20/2006 02:16:00 PM