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Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: 26 June 2012

Venue: Room 144, Parliament Buildings

1.00pm  The meeting opened in public session.

1.      Apologies

Mr Trevor Clarke  
Mr Mervyn Storey 

2.      Draft Minutes of the meeting held on 22 May 2012

Agreed : Members agreed the draft minutes of the meeting held on 22 May 2012. 

3.      Matters Arising

The Chairperson informed Members that the dates that had been suggested for

the meeting with the junior Ministers, in relation to written Assembly

Questions, were no longer suitable.  The Chairperson advised Members that he

had written to the junior Ministers requesting a meeting, which would

hopefully take place at the Committee meeting scheduled for 25 September


1.02pm  Mr Gardiner joined the meeting.

1.03pm  Mr Lyttle joined the meeting.

Mr Allister informed Members that, following discussions with Mr Agnew,

Mr McClarty and Mr McNarry, he wishes to put forward a proposal in relation

to having an Assembly grouping of independent Members and single party


1.06pm  Ms Ramsey joined the meeting.

Agreed: It was agreed to write to the Party Whips seeking their views and to discuss the matter further at the meeting scheduled for 25 September 2012.

4.         Review of Standing Order 47

The Committee considered proposed amendments to Standing Orders, which would introduce a new Standing Order 49B, to reflect establishing the number and membership of statutory committees during the course of a mandate.

Agreed:The Committee agreed the amendments and the motion to amend Standing Orders.

The Chairperson explained why a consequential amendment needed to be made to Standing Order 52A(3) to make it consistent with the new Standing Order 49B.

Agreed: As nothing substantive would be changed, the Committee agreed that an end of year editorial amendment should be made to Standing Order 52A(3).

5.         Amendments to Standing Order 59

1.14pm  Mr McMullan joined the meeting.

The Chairperson advised Members that Standing Order 59 needed to be amended as the Assembly and Executive Review Committee had completed its review of the operation of sections 16A to 16C of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

Agreed: It was agreed that the necessary amendments to Standing Orders should be drafted for the Committee’s consideration.

6.         Budget Scrutiny

The Committee noted that the Committee for Finance and Personnel had issued a discussion paper on the options for improving the Assembly’s input to the budget process, which may require amendments to Standing Orders.

As it is likely to be the autumn before the Committee for Finance and Personnel forms a view on the way forward, Members were content to note the position and to discuss the matter further at the meeting scheduled for 23 October 2012.

7.         Standing Order 69A etc – Assembly Commissioner for Standards

The Committee noted a memo from the Clerk to the Committee on Standards and Privileges advising that, subject to the Assembly’s agreement, the Assembly Commissioner for Standards would be appointed with effect from 17 September 2012. 

As the Assembly had now agreed to the appointment of the Assembly Commissioner for Standards, the Chairperson advised Members that to facilitate the appointment of the Commissioner, the motions to amend Standing Orders (agreed at the meeting on 17 January 2012) would be tabled for debate in week commencing 17 September 2012.

8.         Inquiry into Topical Questions

The Committee considered the written submissions that had been received on  its inquiry into Topical Questions, along with a summary of the evidence.

The Committee discussed a number of issues relating to the Terms of Reference for the inquiry.

Agreed: It was agreed that Committee staff should progress the inquiry during summer recess and bring options for the Committee’s consideration to the meeting scheduled for 25 September 2012.

9.         Size of Committees

The Committee noted the position in relation to the Assembly and Executive Review Committee’s review of the provisions of Parts III and IV of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, which includes the size of the Assembly and its committees.

The Chairperson advised Members that when the Assembly and Executive Review Committee has completed its review, it intends to instruct the Committee on Procedures to bring forward the necessary amendments to Standing Orders.

The Committee was content to note the position and to discuss the matter further at the meeting scheduled for 27 November 2012, unless developments mean that attention will be required sooner.

10.       Review of Forward Work Programme

            The Committee was content with the Forward Work Programme.

11.       Freedom of Information matters during summer recess

The Committee was content to continue with the practice under which authority is delegated to the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson in relation to submitting views on releasing or withholding information in any non-routine or contentious Freedom of Information requests that are received during summer recess. 

12.       Correspondence

There was no other correspondence.

13.       Any other Business

The Chairperson advised Members that the contract for drafting Standing Orders expires in October 2012, and that it is proposed not to put the contract out to tender again, as the drafting could be done in-house, or if necessary, by using the ad hoc facility in the Bill drafting contract.

The Committee was content that the drafting contract is not put out to tender again.

14.       Date, time and place of next meeting

It was agreed that the next meeting of the Committee would take place on 25 September 2012 at 1.00pm in Room 144, Parliament Buildings.

1.40pm  The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

Gerry Kelly
Chairperson, Committee on Procedures
25 September 2012

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