Minutes of Proceedings
Date: 13 September 2011
Venue: Room 106
1. Introduction and Apologies
1.1 The Speaker thanked Ms McCann for taking the Chair at last week’s meeting. Apologies were noted from junior Minister Anderson and junior Minister Bell.
2. Minutes of the meeting held on 6 September 2011
2.1 The minutes of the meeting held on 6 September were agreed and signed by the Speaker.
3. Matters arising
3.1 With reference to paragraph 3.1 of the minutes, the Speaker advised members that, in reply to his letter to the First Minister and deputy First Minister about late answers to written questions, it was stated that questions are answered as promptly as possible.
3.2 Mr Alan Rogers advised that the junior Ministers had raised the matter with Ministerial colleagues at a meeting of the Executive on 30 June. Members noted that there are three ‘late’ questions from the original query which still require an answer.
3.3 On a related matter Mr Weir enquired about the process and criteria for tabling priority written questions. The Clerk advised that there are no restrictions in Standing Orders regarding the tabling of priority written questions. While noting that this can be a valuable facility for Members who need information in a shorter timescale than normal, Members agreed to write to the Committee on Procedures asking it to consider whether the current absence of qualifying criteria may leave the option of priority questions open to abuse.
3.4 Members noted that updated figures on late answers to written questions would be provided to Whips at the Halloween Recess.
4. Finalisation of Order Papers for Week Commencing 19 September 2011
4.1 There was no additional Executive business scheduled on either Monday 19 September 2011 or Tuesday 20 September 2011.
4.2 There was no Committee Business requested for Monday 19 September or Tuesday 20 September.
Private Members’ Business
4.3 Members noted that there was no change to Private Members’ Business on Monday 19 September.
4.4 Having deferred the choice of a Private Members’ motion at the last meeting, it was noted that the SDLP had selected the motion on ‘Programme for Government’ for Tuesday 20 September. Mr Ramsey requested that the Business Committee consider allocating two hours to this debate, with the usual timings.
4.5 Members agreed to schedule the motion for Tuesday 20 September and allocated two hours to this debate, with the usual speaking times.
4.6 Having deferred the choice of an Adjournment Debate at the last meeting, the DUP selected the following topic:
- Multi-schools capital build project for Holywood.
Members agreed to schedule the topic as the Adjournment Debate on Tuesday 20 September.
4.7 Mr Rogers confirmed that all relevant Ministers were available to respond.
5. Provisional arrangements for Plenary meetings in week commencing 26 September 2011
5.1 Members noted that, in addition to Question Time to the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister and the Minister for Social Development, two Legislative Consent Motions had been scheduled on Monday 26 September 2011; the first from the Minister of Justice on the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Amendment) Bill; and the second from the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister on the Protection of Freedoms Bill.
5.2 Members further noted that two Ministerial Statements had been scheduled on Monday 26 September; the first from the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development on the NSMC meeting in Aquaculture and Marine Sectoral Format; and the second from the Minister of Justice on the Youth Justice Review Report.
5.3 Members further noted that, aside from Question Time to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, no further Executive Business had been scheduled for Tuesday 27 September.
5.4 There was no Committee business requested for Monday 26 September or Tuesday 27 September.
Private Members’ Business
5.5 Members agreed to schedule one Private Members’ Motion on Monday 26 September and two on Tuesday 27 September.
Under the system of allocation for Private Members’ motions the selections lay with Sinn Féin, the DUP and the UUP.
The following motions were proposed:
- ‘Energy Prices’ (Ms J McCann, Mr P Flanagan, Mr D McKay)
- ‘Car Insurance’ (G Campbell, A McQuillan)
- ‘Relationship between Government and the Community and Voluntary Sector’ (M Copeland, R Beggs, J McCallister)
5.6 Members agreed that up to 1 hour 30 minutes should be allocated for the debates, with the usual speaking times.
5.7 Members agreed to schedule an Adjournment Debate on Tuesday 27 September. Under the system for allocating Adjournment Debates, the selection lay with Sinn Féin.
Sinn Féin selected the following topic:
- Broadband access in Greencastle and other parts of West Tyrone.
Members agreed to schedule the topic as the Adjournment Debate on Tuesday 27 September.
5.8 Mr Rogers confirmed that all relevant Ministers were available to respond.
6. Continuation of Plenary Sittings over Lunchtime on Tuesdays
6.1 Following consultation with party colleagues over the recess period, Members agreed to retain the lunchtime suspension on Tuesdays, noting that a number of All Party Groups use the current suspension to meet, and that Members often arrange meetings with stakeholder groups at this time. Members also noted that there continues to be flexibility around the lunchtime suspension which can be altered to suit the demands of plenary business as and when required.
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 20 September 2011 in Room 106.
The Speaker brought the meeting to a close at 12.43pm.