Open Meetings

Procedure for holding COMEAP meetings in open session

If you would like to attend a COMEAP meeting as an observer  please contact the secretariat for further information or┬Ěcomplete an application form:

Completed application forms should be sent to the Secretariat.


Introduction to open meetings

The purpose of committee meetings being held in open session is to increase the visibility and transparency of the committee's work and to enable interested parties to hear the committee's discussions. The meetings are not intended to provide a forum for independent observers or pressure groups to present their views on a subject to the committee.

If an interested party wishes to submit information relevant to a topic for consideration by the committee, they are welcome to do so but it should be submitted in writing to the secretariat at least ten days before the meeting. The Secretariat will discuss with the Chairman the most appropriate way to present the information to the committee and the Chairman's decision will be final.

Information concerning the dates of forthcoming COMEAP meetings and topics are available at the relevant section of the website. Most COMEAP meetings are held at the Department of Health, Skipton House, where access to the building is controlled. Information concerning COMEAP meetings can be obtained through the relevant sections of the COMEAP internet sites.

Applications to attend a meeting as an observer

Those wishing to observe can apply to attend either any forthcoming meeting or for a specific subject. If you are interested in a specific subject, the Secretariat will tell you when we expect it to be discussed and will contact you as soon as the agenda is confirmed

The application form asks whether you represent any group (eg manufacturers, trade associations, interest groups with specific concerns on public health or the environment). This information will be provided to committee members and recorded in the minutes of the meeting.

We will accept enquiries by email or phone/fax. Applications will be dealt with by post to ensure that a valid postal address is obtained for proof of identity. The closing date for completed application forms to be received is one week before the relevant meeting.

Selection of observers

The Committee meeting rooms have space for a limited number of observers. The maximum is about ten for any one meeting, depending on location. Priority will be given to those observers who have an interest in a specific subject. Observers will then be selected in order of priority depending on specific interest(s) notified and the order of receipt of applications. In the event of oversubscription, multiple representatives from a single organisation will be limited.

After the closing date for applications, the Secretariat will write to you with an invitation or an explanation if attendance at this meeting is not possible. The invitation will include all necessary information on Committee procedures and admission to the building.

Contributions from observers

Observers should not attempt to participate in the Committee's discussion. Observers who have submitted information to the Committee in advance of the meeting may be invited to provide further explanation or to make brief comments at the discretion of the Chairman. For further information, please refer to the Code of Conduct for observers:

Media enquiries

Representatives of the media should contact the Department of Health Press Office. Any member of the media attending as an observer will be accompanied by a member of the Department of Health's Press Office. Electronic recording devices are not permitted.

Reserved business and unpublished data

Some information may not be in the public domain at the time of discussion. Whenever possible discussions will take place in open session but sometimes part or all of an item may need to be discussed in closed session as reserved business and observers will be requested to leave the meeting. Such items will generally be discussed at the beginning or end of the agenda.

Publication of agendas, papers, statements and minutes

The agenda will be published on the COMEAP website about two weeks before the meeting and any items of reserved business will be identified. After the meeting, papers discussed will be published on the COMEAP website, with the exception of annexes containing certain types of unpublished data. A record of key points made by observers who have submitted information to the committee in advance and who have been asked to provide comment, will be included in the minutes and the final decision on the wording of the minutes will be made by the Committee.

 The draft minutes or statements (as Working Papers) of reserved business may need to be temporarily withheld in accordance with the Code of Practice on Openness (which can be downloaded from the members' page). The final version of minutes and statements will be published when agreed by the Committee.