APN 27 - 17/22: Procedure for the Election of a Speaker and Deputy Speakers

Section 39(1) of the Northern Ireland Act provides that each Assembly shall as its first business elect from among its members a Presiding Officer (i.e. the Speaker) and deputies.  The Assembly cannot conduct any further business until a Speaker and deputies have been elected.

The outgoing Speaker and deputy Speakers continue to hold office until a Speaker has been elected.  

The Election of a Speaker and Deputy Speakers is therefore on the Order Paper for:

Thursday 29 June 2017

The election will be conducted using the procedures set out in Standing Orders guided by Assembly precedent.

Procedure for the Election of the Speaker – Standing Order 4

  • Either the outgoing Speaker, Mr Robin Newton, or an Acting Speaker, the oldest Member of the Assembly not seeking to be elected as Speaker, will preside over the election and will commence by asking for nominations.
  • Any Member may rise to propose that another Member is elected as Speaker.  If two or more Members rise to make a proposal the [Acting] Speaker will look to the largest party first, in accordance with Assembly precedent.
  • The [Acting] Speaker will then ask for the first proposal to be seconded by another Member and if the proposal is not seconded, there is no valid nomination.
  • Once seconded, the [Acting] Speaker will verify that the candidate is willing to accept the nomination. There will not be an opportunity for speeches at this stage. 
  • The [Acting] Speaker will then ask for further proposals and follow the same procedure for each. When there are no further proposals, the [Acting] Speaker will indicate that the time for proposals has passed and a debate may then take place.
  • Members should indicate their intention to speak to the Business Office or to the Table in the usual way. Members may speak for up to 3 minutes and may not speak more than once. The debate will be limited to 30 minutes.
  • At the conclusion of the debate, the [Acting] Speaker will put the question that the first candidate proposed shall be Speaker of the Assembly. The vote will be on a cross-community basis and any dissenting voices will result in a division.
  • If the question is not carried, the [Acting] Speaker will put the question in relation to the next candidate and so on, until a candidate is elected or all nominations are exhausted. Once a Speaker is elected, all other nominations automatically fall.
  • If a Speaker is elected, he/she will be invited to take the Chair and there will be an opportunity for him/her to address the Assembly briefly.  [There will be no further opportunity for party representatives to speak]. 
  • If a Speaker is not elected, the outgoing Speaker or an Acting Speaker will continue in the Chair.

Procedure for the Election of Deputy Speakers – Standing Order 5

  • The election will be presided over by the newly appointed Speaker or, if a new Speaker has not been elected, the outgoing/ Acting Speaker.
  • The procedure for electing the three Deputy Speakers is the same as for the Speaker.
  • Any Member may rise to propose that another Member is elected as a Deputy Speaker.  If two or more Members rise to make a proposal the [Acting] Speaker will look to the largest party first, in accordance with Assembly precedent.
  • The [Acting] Speaker will then ask for the first proposal to be seconded by another Member and if the proposal is not seconded, there is no valid nomination.
  • Once seconded, the [Acting] Speaker will verify that the candidate is willing to accept the nomination. There will not be an opportunity for speeches at this stage. 
  • The [Acting] Speaker will then ask for further proposals and follow the same procedure for each. When there are no further proposals, the [Acting] Speaker will indicate that the time for proposals has passed and a debate may then take place.
  • Members should indicate their intention to speak to the Business Office or to the Table in the usual way. Members may speak for up to 3 minutes and may not speak more than once. The debate will be limited to 30 minutes.
  • At the conclusion of the debate, the [Acting] Speaker will put the question that the first candidate proposed shall be a Deputy Speaker of the Assembly. The vote will be on a cross-community basis and any dissenting voices will result in a division.
  • If the question is not carried, the [Acting] Speaker will put the question in relation to the next candidate and so on, until three candidates have been elected or all nominations are exhausted. Once three Deputy Speakers have been elected, all other nominations automatically fall.
  • There will be no opportunity for speeches after the Deputy Speakers have been elected.
  • If a new Speaker has not been elected and only one or no Deputy Speaker is elected, the requirements of section 39 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 will not have been fulfilled. In that circumstance, no further business on the Order Paper can be taken and the party representatives will be consulted on the rescheduling of these items of business.

All Party Notices can only be issued by the Business Office.

Templates should be forwarded to the Clerk of Plenary Business, Room 32, Parliament Buildings, Stormont  (Fax:  90 (5)21962) or emailed to the Business Office on business.office@niassembly.gov.uk,  Please note that the deadline for submission of templates is 4.00pm and that only one APN is issued each day, as soon as possible after 4.00pm, containing all requested notices.

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