The Northern Ireland Assembly has been dissolved. The election will take place on Thursday 5 May 2016.

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 15 May 2012

Venue: Room 106

1. Apologies

1.1 Apologies were recorded from Mr Paul Maskey.  

2. Minutes of the meeting held on 8 May 2012

2.1 The minutes of the meeting held on 8 May were agreed and signed by the Speaker.  

3. Matters arising

3.1 There were no matters arising.

4. Finalisation of Order Papers for plenary meetings in week commencing 21 May 2012

Executive Business

4.1 Members noted that in addition to Executive business previously agreed, a statement from the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment on the reform of credit unions had been scheduled for Tuesday 22 May. Junior Minister Anderson indicated that some Executive issues regarding the statement have yet to be resolved.

Committee Business

4.2 Members agreed to schedule a DUP motion to change Committee membership for Monday 21 May.

Private Members’ Business

4.3 Members noted that Sinn Féin had selected an adjournment topic on the ‘Narrow Water Bridge Project’ after the previous meeting, but that the Minister for Regional Development had subsequently become unavailable to respond. Members therefore agreed to schedule a replacement topic on the ‘Environmental impact of ongoing neglect of Ballyhoran/Bishopscourt, Co.Down’ (Mr C Hazzard) as the adjournment topic for Tuesday 22 May.      

4.4 Junior Minister Anderson confirmed that all relevant Ministers were available.

4.5 The Order Papers were agreed.

5. Provisional arrangements for Plenary meetings in week commencing 28 May 2012

Executive Business

5.1 Members noted that, in addition to Question Time to the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure and the Minister Regional Development, a Legislative Consent Motion on the Finance (No.4) Bill had been scheduled for Monday 28 May.

5.2 Members noted that, in addition to Question Time to the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister, a second Legislative Consent Motion relating to other provisions in the Finance (No.4) Bill had been scheduled on Tuesday 29 May.

Committee Business

5.3 Members agreed to schedule a motion from the Committee for Social Development on its Fuel Poverty report for Monday 28 May.

5.4 Members agreed to schedule a motion from the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety on the ‘Use of “0844” Numbers by GP Surgeries; and a motion from the Committee for the Environment on ‘Clarification of the Intention of a Charge on Single Use Carrier Bags’ for Tuesday 29 May.

5.5 Members agreed the usual timings for all the committee motions, in the absence of any specific requests.

Private Members’ Business

5.6 Members agreed to schedule one Private Members’ motion on Monday 28 May, but none on the Tuesday due to the two Committee motions.  

Under the system of allocation for Private Members’ motions the selection lay with the DUP. However, following agreement at the previous meeting to consider scheduling a cross-party motion on a health-related theme, the DUP agreed to postpone their selection.

On Mr Ramsey’s proposal, members agreed to schedule the following motion for Monday 28 May:

  • ‘You Need to Know’ Campaign (Mr D Bradley, Mr J Craig, Ms M Boyle, Mr K McCarthy, Mr R Hussey and others).

5.7 Members agreed that up to 1 hour 30 minutes should be allocated for the debate, with the usual speaking times.

5.8 Members agreed to schedule an Adjournment Debate on Tuesday 29 May 2012 and the selection lay with the SDLP. The following adjournment topic was scheduled:  

  • ‘The Causeway Hospital, Coleraine’ (Mr J Dallat).

5.9 Junior Minister Anderson confirmed that all relevant Ministers were available to respond.

5.10 The provisional Order Papers were agreed.

6. Any other business          

6.1 The Speaker expressed his disappointment that the number of withdrawn questions at Question Time had been raised again on the Floor. Extracts from the Business Committee minutes of 30 November 2010 and 8 February 2011, which recorded actions to be taken by Whips in this regard, were tabled for information.

The Speaker reminded Whips that it was in the best interests of the House that they should take a personal interest in the names and questions submitted for Question Time, and ensure that Members selected in the ballot would be present on the day. This responsibility was a matter for the Whips alone, and not for the Speaker or the clerks.

The Speaker also reminded Whips of their further responsibility to be present in the Chamber to organise the progress of business and to ensure that Members are in their places to participate fully in all aspects of business, including statements, debates and Question Time, notwithstanding any exceptional circumstances which may arise.

6.2 It was agreed that statistical information would be provided to the Business Committee on the withdrawal of questions at Question Time since the start of the mandate.

6.3 Members also discussed the option of asking the Committee on Procedures to consider the matter and bring forward a procedure to deal with it formally.  The Speaker indicated that this matter had been explored before, and stressed again the need for Whips to recognise that the solution lay largely within their own control.

6.4 The Speaker reported that he would not be present for the next meeting and that Mr Weir would act as Chairperson in his place.

7. Date and Time of next meeting

7.1 Members agreed to meet at approximately 12.30pm on Tuesday 22 May 2012 in Room 106.

The Speaker brought the meeting to a close at 12.50pm.

Mr Peter Weir
Acting Chairperson

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