Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Tuesday, 29 May 2012
Venue: Room 106, Parliament Buildings
1.1 The Speaker thanked Mr Weir for taking the Chair for the previous meeting. Apologies were noted from Mr R Swann, Mrs S Overend and Mr P Ramsey. The Speaker welcomed Mr D Kinahan as the UUP substitute.
2. Minutes of the meeting held on 22 May 2012
2.1 The minutes of the meeting held on 22 May were agreed and signed by the Speaker.
3. Matters arising
3.1 The Speaker advised Members that, with reference to paragraph 3.1 of the minutes, statistics on withdrawn questions would be considered under agenda item 5.
4. Finalisation of Order Papers for plenary meetings in week commencing 11 June 2012
4.1 Members noted that, in addition to the Executive Business already agreed, a Legislative Consent Motion on the Financial Services Bill from the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment had been scheduled for Monday 11 June.
4.2 Members noted that, in addition to the Executive Business already agreed, a motion to affirm the draft Local Government (Boundaries) Order (Northern Ireland) 2012 from the Minister of the Environment had been scheduled for Tuesday 12 June.
4.3 Members agreed a request from the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment to increase to two hours the time for the debate on its Report on the Inquiry into Developing the Northern Ireland Economy through Innovation, Research and Development, on Monday 11 June.
4.4 Members agreed to schedule a motion from the Committee on Procedures to amend Standing Order 49A on Tuesday 12 June.
Private Members’ Business
4.5 Members noted that the Alliance party had submitted revised wording for their motion on ‘Mixed Housing’, scheduled for Tuesday 12 June.
4.6 Junior Minister Bell confirmed that all relevant Ministers were available.
4.7 The draft Order Papers were agreed.
5. Provisional arrangements for Plenary meetings in week commencing 18June 2012
5.1 In addition to Question Time to the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister and the Minister of the Environment, members noted that the Supply Resolution for the Northern Ireland Main Estimates 2012/13 and Supply Resolution for the 2010/11Excess Votes were scheduled for Monday 18 June; and that the First Stage of the Budget Bill was also scheduled for that day.
5.2 Members noted that, in line with convention, both motions would be debated together. Members agreed to allow 4 hours for the debate, with one hour for the Minister to divide as required between moving and winding; and up to 10 minutes for all other speakers.
5.3 Members also noted that a motion to Suspend Standing Orders 10(2) to 10(4) on Monday 18 June had been scheduled in the name of the Minister of Finance and Personnel.
5.4 In addition to Question Time to the Minister of Finance and Personnel and the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, members noted that the Second Stage of the Budget Bill and a motion to affirm the Statistics and Registration Services Act (Disclosure of Social Security Information) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 were also scheduled for Tuesday 19 June.
5.5 Members agreed to schedule a joint motion from the Committee on Standards and Privileges and the Assembly Commission on the appointment of an Assembly Commissioner for Standards for Tuesday 19 June.
Private Members’ Business
5.6 Members agreed that, given the budget related business debates, no Private Members’ business would be selected for the week commencing 18 June.
5.7 The provisional Order Papers were agreed.
6. Statistics on withdrawn oral questions
6.1 Members noted a paper detailing statistics on the number of withdrawn oral questions. They further noted that the overall figure of withdrawn questions since the start of the mandate was 11%, but that 80% of these were withdrawn on the day before, or the day of, Question Time.
6.2 The Speaker advised that he would provide Whips with details of withdrawals by their own party; that he would continue to monitor the situation closely; and that he would apply sanctions, if necessary, including not calling Members for supplementaries at future Question Times.
6.3 The Speaker asked Whips to put arrangements in place in their own offices to deal with late withdrawals, and reminded them that Members’ names should not be put forward for the ballot if they know they will not be available on the day.
6.4 Whips expressed their support for the Speaker’s position on this matter and indicated that they were content to deal with the issue within their own parties, including emphasising the responsibility that rests on Members themselves with regard to ensuring their availability.
6.5 Junior Minister Bell advised that the matter had been discussed at an Executive meeting and that Ministers were supportive of the Speaker’s stance and the proposed way forward.
7. Any other business
7.1 There was no other business.
8. Date and Time of next meeting
8.1 Members agreed to meet at approximately 12.30pm on Tuesday 12 June 2012 in Room 106.
The Chairperson brought the meeting to a close at 12.46pm.
Mr William Hay