Independent study aims to increase power, impact, and effectiveness of Senedd Committees

A new report by London Met's Professor Diana Stirbu explores the role of Senedd Committees to improve how they work for the people of Wales.

Date: 19 November 2021

New research by London Met's Professor Diana Stirbu looking at the power, impact and effectiveness of Senedd Committees has been published, with the aim of improving how they work for the benefit of the people of Wales. 

The Stirbu Report was published by Llywydd of the Senedd, Elin Jones MS, and Chairs of all the parliament's committees (Chair's Forum). 

It recognised the current strengths of Senedd committees' structures and working practices, whilst also providing a framework for further strengthening their impact and effectiveness.

Professor Stirbu was commissioned by the Senedd's Chair's Forum to carry out the research with the aim of developing a way to evaluate the effectiveness of committees in the Sixth Senedd. 

In the report, there are recommendations for improving the effectiveness of committees (such as embedding the lived experience of regular citizens into committee work, making full use of the range of powers they have) as well as recommendations of improving the evaluative capacity of committees (i.e. monitor diversity of their witness, embedding evaluation self-practice in their work).

Professor Stirbu said: "The Senedd Committees are the heart of Wales' parliamentary democratic life. Their work is key for representation, oversight of the government and accountability, for ensuring good legislation is passed, and well evidenced policies developed. It is therefore critical that the work of committees is impactful and properly understood not only by its members but also by its stakeholders, the Media and the Welsh public. 

"This work investigates what makes Senedd committees effective, and how we evaluate, communicate and learn from the impact of their work? This report found a wealth of good committee practice that the Senedd can build from in the new term. The recommendations made by this report focus on 1) how committees can be more impactful and exert more influence over its main stakeholders (i.e. Welsh Government), and 2) how committees can improve and expand their evaluative practice, thus ensuring continuous improvement of their work in the light of the exciting opportunities and the challenges of the 6th term."

The report was discussed and endorsed by the Senedd's Chairs' Forum, at its meeting on 21 October 2021, with a commitment to overseeing the implementation of Professor Stirbu's recommendations throughout the course of the current Senedd.

In response to the report's publication, Elin Jones MS, the Llywydd of the Senedd said: "As a modern parliament, we must take steps to understand the impact our work is having and to continuously strive to improve what we do in the interests of the people of Wales. That is why we commissioned Professor Stirbu to develop a framework for our committees to better understand the impact of their work. 

"Professor Stirbu's report is very welcome. It demonstrates the good practice developed in the Senedd to date, but it also provides a framework with which to assess our future impact and effectiveness, to ensure we continue to strengthen the work of Senedd committees."

Work to act on the report's recommendation has already started, with a new process to monitor the diversity of committee evidence gathering. The monitoring scheme will enable committees to better understand who engages with their inquiries, who doesn't, and to design new methods of gathering views and expertise.