Minutes of Proceedings
Date: 09 April 2013
Venue: Room 106, Parliament Buildings
1.1 Apologies were noted from Mr Stewart Dickson, and the Speaker welcomed Mr Chris Lyttle as the Alliance substitute.
2. Minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday 19 March 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 the plenary meetings in week commencing 15 April 2013
4.1 Members agreed to schedule the presentation of a public petition on Monday 15 April by Ms Megan Fearon, relating to the closure of Crossmaglen Jobs and Benefits Office.
4.2 A business motion to suspend Standing Orders 10(2) to (4) was scheduled for Monday 15 April to allow the sitting to continue past 7.00pm, if necessary.
4.3 Members agreed to schedule a DUP motion, and a Sinn Féin motion to change Committee memberships on Monday 15 April.
4.4 Members noted that Standing Order 5 states that there must be three Deputy Speakers; and, that following the resignation of Mr Francie Molloy as an MLA, a vacancy for Deputy Speaker existed. Members agreed to schedule the election of a new Deputy Speaker on Monday 15 April; and noted a briefing paper outlining the process that would be followed in the Chamber.
4.5 Members also agreed to schedule the nomination of a new Principal Deputy Speaker on Monday 15 April; and noted a further briefing paper outlining the process that would be followed in the Chamber.
4.6 Members noted that Standing Orders allow for debates on both items, and the convention that Members have up to 3 minutes to speak. Members further noted that, as nominations for Principal Deputy Speaker are dealt with individually, the convention had been established that only one Member from each party would speak in any debate.
4.7 Members agreed to proceed with both items of business according to the procedures and conventions outlined.
4.8 Members noted that the First Stage of the Tobacco Retailers Bill was scheduled for Monday 15 April, subject to the Speaker's agreement to introduce.
4.9 Members noted that the Consideration Stage of the Welfare Reform Bill had been withdrawn from business scheduled for Tuesday 16 April shortly before the Committee meeting had begun, but that all other Executive business scheduled for that day remained unchanged.
4.10 In addition to the Committee Business agreed previously for Monday 15 April, Members agreed to also schedule a motion from the Committee on Procedures on its Report on the Inquiry into Topical Questions on that day, with the usual timings.
Private Members' Business
4.11 Having deferred its choice of a Private Members' motion at the last meeting, it was noted that Alliance had selected a motion on 'Integrated Education' for Monday 15 April.
4.12 As a result of the Consideration Stage of the Welfare Reform Bill not going ahead on that day, members agreed to schedule the Further Consideration Stage of the Civil Service (Special Advisers) Bill for Tuesday 16 April.
4.13 Members agreed to schedule an Adjournment Debate for Tuesday 16 April and, under the system of allocation, the selection lay with the UUP. The following adjournment topic was selected:
• 'Security Preparations for G8 Summit in County Fermanagh' (Mr T Elliott).
4.14 Junior Minister McCann confirmed that all relevant Ministers were available to respond to the business selected.
4.15 The draft Order Papers were agreed.
5. Provisional arrangements for the plenary meetings in week commencing 22 April 2013
5.1 Members noted that, along with Question Time to the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister and the Minister of the Environment, a motion to approve the draft Renewables Obligation (Amendment) Order (Northern Ireland), was scheduled for Monday 22 April 2013.
5.2 Members noted that Question Time to the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, and the Minister of Finance and Personnel was scheduled for Tuesday 23 April. Members noted that the Second Stage of the Tobacco Retailers Bill was also scheduled for that day, subject to the introduction of the Bill on Monday 15 April.
5.3 Members noted that no Committee business had been requested.
Private Members' Business
5.4 Members agreed to schedule two Private Members' motions on Monday 22 April. Under the system of allocation, the selections lay with the UUP and the DUP. Mr Swann agreed to notify the Clerk of his party's selection after the meeting. The following motion was selected by the DUP:
• 'Special Needs Provision' (Mr P Weir, Lord Morrow).
5.5 In relation to business for Tuesday 23 April, the Speaker alerted members to the possibility that the Executive might be in a position, after its meeting later in the week, to schedule the Consideration Stage of the Welfare Reform Bill on that day, and that this might be taken into account when scheduling Private Members' business.
Mr Weir suggested that, while the Provisional Order Paper for Monday 22 April could be agreed at today's meeting, consideration of other business to be included on the Provisional Order Paper for Tuesday 23 April should be deferred until the next meeting, to allow for clarification regarding the scheduling of the Consideration Stage of the Welfare Reform Bill.
Ms Ruane advised members that it was her strong view that, given the ongoing uncertainty about the Bill, the Business Committee should proceed to schedule Private Members' business on Tuesday 23 April to avoid the scenario of having to schedule motions at short notice at the next meeting if the Bill Stage still did not proceed.
Mr Ramsey expressed his disappointment and frustration at the late notification of the removal of the Consideration Stage of the Welfare Reform Bill as business for 16 April; and noted that, while Private Members' business could be scheduled for Tuesday 23 April, it would be unfair to those proposing the motions for them to be postponed or cancelled at short notice.
Mr Lyttle noted that, if the decision to schedule Private Members' business was deferred until the next meeting, members would have little time to prepare.
5.6 Following discussion, Members agreed to schedule one Private Members' motion on Tuesday 23 April and, under the system of allocation, the selection lay with Sinn Féin. Ms Ruane agreed to notify the Clerk of her party's selection after the meeting.
5.7 Members also agreed to schedule an Adjournment Debate on Tuesday 23 April. Under the system of allocation, the selection lay with the DUP. Mr Weir agreed to notify the Clerk of his party's selection after the meeting, and the following topic was subsequently notified:
• 'Opening of the Sexual Assault Referral Centre at Antrim Area Hospital' (Ms P Brown)
5.8 In relation to party selections that were to be notified after the meeting, Junior Minister McCann advised that the Minister of Culture Arts and Leisure, the Minister of Education, the Minister of the Environment, and the Minister for Regional Development would not be available to respond to plenary business on Tuesday 23 April.
5.9 Members agreed to reconsider the position regarding Private Members' business scheduled for Tuesday 23 April at the next meeting, pending any further developments within the Executive on the scheduling of the Consideration Stage of the Welfare Reform Bill.
5.10 The provisional Order Papers for Monday 22 April and Tuesday 23 April were agreed.
5.11 Ms Ruane asked that her dissatisfaction with the late notification about the removal of the Consideration Stage of the Welfare Reform Bill from business for Tuesday 16 April be recorded; and requested that the dissatisfaction of the Business Committee regarding the situation be notified to the Executive.
5.12 The Speaker asked the Junior Ministers to reflect the views of the Business Committee on this matter to the Executive. He also advised that he had previously written to the Executive regarding the importance of ensuring that Ministers make themselves available on sitting days to attend plenary business.
6. Any other business
6.1 There was no other business.
7. Date and Time of next meeting
7.1 Members agreed to meet at approximately 12.30pm on Tuesday 16 April 2013 in Room 106.
The Speaker brought the meeting to a close at 1.13pm.