Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Tuesday, 23 April 2013
Venue: Room 106, Parliament Buildings
1.1 There were apologies from Mrs Karen McKevitt, Lord Morrow and Mrs Sandra Overend.
2. Minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday 16 April 2013
2.1 The minutes were agreed and signed by the Speaker.
3. Matters arising
3.1 Mr Robin Swann expressed his disappointment that, although it was recorded in the minutes at paragraph 4.9 that all relevant Ministers were available to respond to business selected for the week commencing 22 April, there had been no Ministerial response to the UUP motion on the 'Repeal of the Exception for Teachers in the Fair Employment and Treatment Order', debated on Monday 22 April.
3.2 Junior Minister Bell advised that the junior Ministers were only in a position to inform the Business Committee about the availability of those Ministers who appeared to be relevant to business selected. However, they would not be in a position to know whether an Executive response would be made to any item of business.
3.3 The Speaker confirmed that, whilst it is good practice for Ministers to respond to private Members' business falling within their area of responsibility, decisions about which, if any, Minister would do so, ultimately rest with the Executive.
4. Finalisation of Order Papers for the plenary meetings in week commencing 29 April 2013
4.1 Members noted that there was no change to the Executive business previously scheduled for Monday 29 April.
4.2 Members noted that in addition to the Executive business previously scheduled for Tuesday 30 April, a statement on the recent NSMC meeting in Environment sectoral format was expected on that day.
4.3 Members noted that there were still no requests for Committee business.
Private Members' Business
4.4 Members noted that there was no change to the Private Members' business previously scheduled. Mr Weir sought clarification regarding the scheduling of a motion relating to marriage equality, when a motion on the same subject area had already been debated during the current session. Members noted that, in line with convention, six months had elapsed since the previous motion had been debated. Following a request for clarification from Ms Ruane, Junior Minister McCann advised that the Minister of Finance and Personnel would respond to the motion on 'Marriage Equality at the Constitutional Convention', scheduled for Monday 29 April. The Speaker reminded Whips that it is for the Executive to decide which, if any, Minister will respond to any item of business.
4.5 Following a request for clarification at the previous meeting on the specific nature of the Adjournment topic scheduled for Tuesday 30 April, it was noted that the Minister for Employment and Learning would respond to the debate.
4.6 Junior Minister McCann confirmed that all relevant Ministers were available to respond to the business selected.
4.7 The draft Order Papers were agreed.
5. Provisional arrangements for the plenary sitting on Tuesday 7 May 2013
5.1 Members noted that, due to the Public Holiday on Monday 6 May, four Question Time slots were scheduled on Tuesday 7 May; and that these would be to the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister; the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development; the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure; and the Minister of Education.
5.2 Members noted that no Committee business had been requested.
Private Members' Business
5.3 Members agreed to schedule two Private Members' motions on Tuesday 7 May. Under the system of allocation, the selections lay with the DUP and the UUP. The following motions were selected:
• 'New Primary School for Inner South Belfast' (Mr J Spratt, Mr M Storey, Mrs B Hale); and
• 'Fall in Farm Incomes' (Mrs J Dobson, Mr R Swann).
5.4 Members agreed that up to 1 hour 30 minutes should be allocated for each debate, with the usual speaking times.
5.5 Members agreed to schedule an Adjournment Debate on Tuesday 30 April. Under the system of allocation, the selection lay with the SDLP. Mr Ramsey initially proposed the topic on 'Oversubscription of Primary School Places in South Belfast (Dr A McDonnell) but, in view of its apparent similarity to the private Members' motion already selected by the DUP, undertook to confirm his party's intention to the Clerk after the meeting.
5.6 Following a request for clarification from Ms Ruane about similarities in the subjects of private Members' motions and Adjournment topics, the Clerk advised that, although similar issues may be dealt with under either, a motion includes a call for action, while an Adjournment debate allows for a general discussion on a particular topic without the need for the Assembly to come to a decision.
5.7 Junior Minister McCann confirmed that all relevant Ministers were available to respond to the business selected.
5.8 The provisional Order Paper was agreed.
6. Recess dates 2013/2014
6.1 Members agreed the 2013/2014 recess dates.
7. Any other business
7.1 The Speaker referred members to a letter from the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment requesting an exchange of Question Time slots on 4 June with the Minister for Employment and Learning on 3 June.
7.2 Members agreed to the request.
7.3 In response to Mr Swann's query about the Welfare Reform Bill, it was noted that no date had yet been proposed by the Executive for Consideration Stage.
8. Date and Time of next meeting
8.1 Members agreed to meet at approximately 12.30pm on Tuesday 30 April 2013 in Room 106.
The Speaker brought the meeting to a close at 12.46pm.