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

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 31 January 2012

Venue: Room 106

1.         Apologies

1.1       Apologies were noted from Mr McCallister and Mrs McKevitt.

2.         Minutes of the meeting held on 24 January 2012

2.1       The minutes of the meeting held on 24 January were agreed and signed by the Speaker. 

3.         Matters arising

3.1       There were no matters arising.

4.         Finalisation of Order Papers for Week Commencing 6 February 2012

Executive Business

4.1      Members noted that, aside from the business already agreed, a statement from the Minister of Justice on “Speeding up Justice” had been scheduled for Monday 6 February 2012.

4.2      Junior Minister Bell confirmed that no further Executive Business was expected.

Committee Business

4.3      Members agreed to include a Business Committee motion to suspend Standing Orders, to allow the sitting to continue past 7pm on Monday 6 February if necessary.

4.4      Members agreed to schedule a motion on “Widening Access to Education Maintenance Allowance” from the Committee for Employment and Learning on Monday 6 February. Members agreed to allocate 1 hour 30 minutes for the debate, with the usual speaking times.

Private Members’ Business

4.5      Members noted that there were no changes to the Private Members’ Business previously agreed.

4.6      The draft Order Papers were agreed.

5.         Provisional arrangements for Plenary meetings in week commencing 13 February 2012

Executive Business

5.1       Members noted that, in addition to Question Time to the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, and the Minister of Justice, motions on the Supply Resolution for the 2011/2012 Spring Supplementary Estimates  and the Supply Resolution on the 2012/2013 Vote on Account had been scheduled on Monday 13 February 2012. Members agreed the usual arrangements with one debate on both motions; an allocation of 4 and a half hours for the debate, with one hour for the Minister to divide between moving and winding at his discretion; and 10 minutes for all other speakers.

5.2       Members noted that the First Stage of the Budget Bill was also scheduled for Monday 13 February.

5.2       Members noted that in addition to Question Time to the Minister for Regional Development and the Minister of Social Development, the Second Stage of the Budget Bill had been scheduled for Tuesday 14 February. Members agreed that the Bill would be the focus for the whole day’s business.

Committee Business

5.3      Members agreed that a Business Committee motion to suspend Standing Orders, to allow the sitting to continue past 7pm on Monday 13 February if necessary, should be included on the Order Paper.

5.4      Members also agreed to schedule a motion from the Committee for Finance and Personnel on its Report on the Response to the Executive’s Review of the Financial Process in NI for Monday 13 February, with the usual timings.

Private Members’ Business

5.5      Given the Executive Business scheduled for Monday 13 February and Tuesday 14 February, members agreed that no Private Members’ Business would be scheduled for these plenary sittings. 

6.         Further consideration of correspondence from the Committee on Procedures: Standing Order 27 – Voting/Divisions

6.1       Following further consideration of correspondence from the Committee on Procedures regarding Standing Order 27, members agreed that the Business Committee continued to be in favour of Standing Order 27(2) be amended to remove the three minute period, subject to the following safeguards:

i.        It would always be at the discretion of the Speaker, who would first consult whips, and then seek the leave of the House; and

ii.        It would only apply where more than two divisions related to the same subject are to be held immediately after each other.

6.2       The Speaker agreed to write to the Committee on Procedures about the view of the Business Committee.

7.         Any Other Business

7.1       The Speaker advised members that the Business Committee is required, “as soon as is practicable” following any numerical change to party memberships in the Assembly, to review the representation of the different political parties on:

a. Statutory Committees (SO 49(6)); and

b. Standing Committees (SO 52(4)).

7.2       Members noted that the recalculation following the change to the membership of the UUP resulted in two fewer seats on Statutory Committees for that party. It was also noted that Mr McNarry must be offered one of these seats and that, in relation to the second seat, the result of the recalculation did not automatically reallocate it to another party.  In line with the agreement on 8 January 2008 that, where the recalculation results in an additional seat it should go to the party with the highest residual fraction, it was agreed that the seat should be allocated to Sinn Féin.

7.3       Members noted that the change in party membership did not result in any changes to Standing Committees, and therefore no action was required by the Business Committee.

7.4       Members agreed that a motion to change committee memberships could be tabled in the Business Office after the meeting and could therefore be added to the Order Paper for Monday 6 February.

8.         Date and Time of next meeting

8.1       Members agreed to meet at approximately 12.30pm on Tuesday 7 February 2012 in Room 106.

The Chairperson brought the meeting to a close at 13.00.

Mr William Hay

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