Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Tuesday, 20 September 2011
Venue: Room 106
1. Introduction and Apologies
1.1 Apologies were noted from Mr Paul Maskey.
2. Minutes of the meeting held on 13 September 2011
2.1 The minutes of the meeting held on 13 September were agreed and signed by the Speaker.
3. Matters arising
3.1 With reference to paragraph 3.3 of the minutes, the Speaker advised members that, as agreed, he had written to the Committee on Procedures about priority written questions.
4. Finalisation of Order Papers for Week Commencing 26 September 2011
4.1 Members noted that in addition to business already scheduled, two further Ministerial Statements had been scheduled for Monday 26 September; the first, an additional statement from the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the second from the Minister of Education on the Next Steps for Education.
4.2 Members noted that the Legislative Consent Motion on the London Olympic and Paralympic Games (Amendment) Bill had been postponed until Tuesday 4 October 2011.
4.3 Members noted that no additional Executive Business had been scheduled for Tuesday 27 September.
4.4 Members agreed to schedule an Ulster Unionist Party motion to replace members on four Committees on Monday 26 September 2011.
Private Members’ Business
4.5 The DUP requested a change to the Private Members’ Motion on Tuesday 27 September 2011 which had been selected at last week’s meeting. The following motion was proposed:
- ‘Support for Rural Businesses’ (Mr A McQuillan, Mr G Campbell)
Members agreed to schedule the motion for Tuesday 27 September with the usual speaking times.
4.6 Junior Minister Bell confirmed that all relevant Ministers were available to respond.
5. Provisional arrangements for Plenary meetings in week commencing 3 October 2011
5.1 Members noted that, apart from Question Time to the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and the Minister for Employment and Learning, no further Executive business had been scheduled on Monday 3 October.
5.2 Members noted that, as well as Question Time to the Minister of Education and the Minister of the Environment, the Legislative Consent Motion on the London Olympic and Paralympic Games (Amendment) Bill had been now been rescheduled to Tuesday 4 October.
5.3 Members noted that the Assembly and Executive Review Committee may table a motion, seeking the agreement of the Assembly to refer to it the review of the arrangements for appointing the Minister of Justice, following its meeting later this week. Members further noted that two previous motions referring work to the Committee were treated as business motions, and that this could be scheduled for Monday 3 October.
Private Members’ Business
5.4 Members agreed to schedule two Private Members’ Motions on Monday 3 October and two on Tuesday 4 October.
Under the system of allocation for Private Members’ motions the selections lay with Sinn Féin, the DUP, the SDLP, and the DUP.
The following motions were proposed:
- ‘Public Procurement’ (Ms J McCann, M McLaughlin, C Murphy)
- ‘Illegal Fuel Smuggling and Laundering’ (W Irwin, Lord Morrow, P Weir)
- ‘Student Places at the University of Ulster’s Magee Campus’ (P Ramsey, M Durkan, C Eastwood)
- ‘Inadequate Weed Control by Roads Service Eastern Division’ (J Spratt, A Easton, J Craig)
5.5 Members agreed that up to 1 hour 30 minutes should be allocated for the debates, with the usual speaking times.
5.6 Members agreed to schedule an Adjournment Debate on Tuesday 4 October. Under the system for allocating Adjournment Debates, the selection lay with the DUP.
The DUP selected the following topic:
- ‘Executive Support for Rathlin Island’
Members agreed to schedule the topic as the Adjournment Debate on Tuesday 4 October.
5.7 Junior Minister Bell confirmed that all relevant Ministers were available to respond.
6. Any Other Business
6.1 The Speaker advised Members that he had written to the Executive to encourage it to bring a legislative programme to the Assembly as early as possible to help avoid the pressures experienced in the final weeks of the last mandate.
6.2 Lord Morrow raised a query regarding instances where the provisions of an Act do not come into operation at the same time as it receives Royal Assent. He noted that while Royal Assent, and the fact that a particular Bill has become an Act, is announced to the Assembly, it is not always apparent to Members that commencement of its provisions may take place at a later date. Mr Widdis advised that each Act will have a commencement section which will indicate when certain provisions will come into operation, or will provide that a commencement order or orders may be made by the relevant Minister. Commencement can therefore take place after Royal Assent has been signified. Members noted that the Assembly does have the opportunity to consider the arrangements for commencement during the passage of the Bill either at committee stage or, ultimately, in the House, and could propose that they be amended. In relation to the power to bring a Commencement Order, it was noted that the Order itself, when laid, would be referred to the relevant statutory committee.
The junior Ministers noted the potential for confusion and undertook to consider whether anything more could be done by Ministerial colleagues to clarify the position for Members on when Acts will come into operation.
6.3 The Speaker highlighted his continuing concern that Members were being discourteous during plenary business, arriving late in the Chamber only to speak and then leave again, without taking time to hear, and respond to the debate underway. The Speaker reminded Members that it is expected that those who wish to participate in a debate should be in the Chamber for the start of the item of business, and should remain in the Chamber for a period of time after they have spoken.
The Speaker advised Whips that Members who continue to be discourteous in this manner will not be called to participate.
7. Date and Time of next meeting
7.1 Members agreed to meet at approximately 12.30pm on Tuesday 27 September 2011 in Room 106.
The Speaker brought the meeting to a close at 12.52pm.
Mr William Hay