The purpose of the committee is to read bills that are relevant to Northern Ireland before their second or third readings in Parliament. It also provides an opportunity for MPs to question ministers, debate current matters and for ministers to make statements. There are between three and six committee meetings per year.
Until recently, unlike its Scottish and Welsh counterparts, the Northern Ireland Grand Committee met at Westminster and never in Northern Ireland. However, the Democratic Unionist Party pressed for a meeting to take place in the province itself. The government agreed, and in December 2006 the first and so far only local meeting of the committee took place in the council chamber at Belfast City Hall.