Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Tuesday, 29 January 2013
Venue: Room 106, Parliament Buildings
1.1 Apologies were noted from Mr Gerry Kelly.
2. Minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday 22 January 2013
2.1 The minutes were agreed and signed by the Speaker.
3. Matters arising
3.1 There were no matters arising.
4. Finalisation of Order Papers for plenary meetings in week commencing 4 February 2013
4.1 Members noted that, in addition to Executive Business agreed previously, a Legislative Consent Motion relating to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill (DETI) was scheduled for Monday 4 February.
4.2 Members noted that there was no change to the Executive Business previously scheduled for Tuesday 5 February.
4.3 Members noted that there was no additional Committee Business.
Private Members’ Business
4.4 Members noted that the text of the Alliance motion on ‘Feasibility of Free School Transport for all Pupils’, scheduled for Monday 4 February, had been revised.
4.5 The UUP requested that the motion on ‘Continuing High Rates of Fuel Poverty’ scheduled for Monday 4 February be changed. The following motion was scheduled in its place:
- ‘National Crime Agency’ (Mr T Elliott, Mr R Hussey).
4.6 Members were advised that neither of the junior Ministers would be available in the early part of the morning of Tuesday 5 February to respond to the cross-party motion on ‘Internet Safety for Children’, due to an existing school engagement relating to ‘Safer Internet Day’. In order to accommodate the motion, the Alliance party offered to exchange slots on Monday, a proposal which all parties indicated would have been helpful in progressing the matter. However, the Junior Ministers advised that they were both also unavailable on Monday.
Mrs Overend expressed her concern about the position, indicating that, while she was content to hear the views of other members of the committee, her party was in favour of retaining the motions in the order agreed for Tuesday’s business at the previous meeting. Other parties indicated their positions on either retaining the agreed order of business, with no ministerial response to the cross-party motion; or scheduling the Sinn Féin motion on ‘Regulation of Social Networking Websites’ as the first item of business, to allow the junior Ministers time to return to the Assembly to respond to the cross-party motion. The long-standing view of the Business Committee about the priority that Ministers should accord to Assembly business was restated by members and the Speaker.
During other exchanges, the Speaker reminded the junior Ministers that their role was as observers at the Business Committee, and of the need to be mindful of the authority of the Committee.
Following discussion, consensus was not reached on changing the draft Order Paper. The order of business therefore remained as agreed previously:
i) ‘Internet Safety for Children’ (Mrs S Overend, Miss M McIlveen, Mr M Durkan, Mr C Lyttle, Ms C Ruane); and
ii) ‘Regulation of Social Networking Websites’ (Ms R McCorley, Mr R McCartney, Mr S Lynch).
Members agreed that the junior Ministers should explore the possibility of another Minister responding to the cross-party motion in their absence.
4.7 Junior Minister McCann confirmed that all other relevant Ministers were available to respond to business.
4.8 The draft Order Papers were agreed.
5. Provisional arrangements for plenary meetings in week commencing 11 February 2013
5.1 Members noted that motions on the Supply Resolution for the 2012-2013 Spring Supplementary Estimates and the Supply Resolution for the 2013-14 Vote on Account had been scheduled for Monday 11 February. Members agreed the usual arrangements with one debate on both motions; an allocation of 4 and a half hours for the debate, with one hour for the Minister to divide between moving and winding at his discretion; and 10 minutes for all other speakers.
5.2 Members noted that the following Executive business was also scheduled for Monday 11 February:
- First Stage of the Budget Bill (subject to the necessary agreements);
- Final Stage of the Business Improvement Districts Bill;
- Legislative Consent Motion on Part 1 of the Energy Bill (DETI); and
- Question Time to the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister and the Minister for Regional Development.
5.3 Members further noted that a motion to approve a Statutory Rule may also be scheduled for Monday 11 February, subject to the consideration and agreement of the relevant Committee.
5.4 Members noted that the Consideration Stage of the Water and Sewerage Services (Amendment) Bill was scheduled for Tuesday 12 February, subject to the Committee for Regional Development reporting on the Bill this week. Members further noted that Second Stage of the Budget Bill was scheduled for that day, along with Question Time to the Minister for Social Development and the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.
5.3 Members noted that no Committee business had been requested.
Private Members’ Business
5.4 Members agreed to not schedule any Private Members’ motions on Monday 11 February and Tuesday 12 February; but did agree to schedule an Adjournment Debate on Tuesday 12 February. Under the system of allocation, the selection lay with the UUP. The following adjournment topic was selected:
- ‘Consultation on care homes in residential areas in South Antrim’ (Mr D Kinahan).
5.5 Junior Minister McCann confirmed that all relevant Ministers were available.
5.6 The provisional Order Papers were agreed.
6. Requests to Exchange Question Time Slot
6.1 The Speaker referred members to a letter from the Minister of Education requesting an exchange of his Question Time slot on 18 February with the Minister for Employment and Learning’s slot on 19 February.
6.2 The Speaker referred members to a letter from the Minister for Social Development requesting an exchange of his Question Time slot on 12 February with the Minister for Regional Development’s slot on 11 February.
6.3 Members agreed to both requests.
7. Any other business
7.1 Mr Swann asked to place on record his concern about the nature of junior Minister Bell’s remarks to Mrs Overend, during the discussion about plenary business on Tuesday 5 February.
The Speaker reminded all those present that junior Ministers had been permitted to attend Business Committee meetings only as observers and to provide information, when requested, about Executive business and Ministerial availability.
8. Date and Time of next meeting
8.1 Members agreed to meet at approximately 12.30pm on Tuesday 5 February 2013 in Room 106.
The Speaker brought the meeting to a close at 12.54pm.