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

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 06 March 2012

Venue: Room 106

1. Introduction and Apologies

1.1 Apologies were noted from Ms J McCann, Mrs K McKevitt and Mr P Maskey.

2. Minutes of the meeting held on 28 February 2012

2.1 The minutes of the meeting held on 28 February 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 12 March 2012

Executive Business

4.1 Members noted that, in addition to business scheduled previously, a motion to endorse the Programme for Government had been scheduled for Monday 12 March. Members agreed an allocation of 5 hours for the debate, with one hour for the First Minister and deputy First Minister to divide between moving and winding at their discretion, and 10 minutes for all other speakers. 

Mr McCallister asked about the proposed timescale for making the Programme of Government document available to Members. He asked for his concerns to be recorded about the lack of time available for scrutinising the document before the Assembly would have to endorse it. Junior Minister Bell advised that the Executive would meet on Thursday 8 March to agree the Programme for Government and took note of the concerns raised about making it available to Members as soon as possible. 

Members also noted that the First Stage of the Superannuation Bill and a motion to suspend Standing Orders had been scheduled for Monday 12 March. 

4.2 Members noted that, in addition to business scheduled previously, a motion to endorse the Northern Ireland Economic Strategy was scheduled for Tuesday 13 March.

Mr McCallister again raised concerns about the timescale for making the documentation on the Northern Ireland Economic Strategy available to Members, given that it was scheduled for debate on Tuesday 13 March. 

Members agreed an allocation of 3 hours for the debate, with 15 minutes for the Minister to move the motion and 30 minutes to wind, and 8 minutes for all other speakers.  

A motion on the draft Dog Control Orders (Prescribed Offences and Penalties, etc.) Regulations (NI) 2012 was also scheduled for Tuesday 13 March.

Committee Business

4.2 Members noted that, in view of the impact of the motion on the Northern Ireland Economic Strategy on business, the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety was content for the motion on IVF Treatment to be postponed until 20 March.

Private Members’ Business

4.3 Given the impact of the two major Executive motions on 12 and 13 March, members agreed to postpone the three private Members’ motions previously scheduled.

4.4 Members noted that the DUP and Sinn Féin had agreed to swap adjournment debate slots to allow Mr Gordon Dunne’s adjournment debate on the ‘Regeneration of Bangor’ to be taken on Tuesday 20 March, as the Minister for Social Development was not now available on 13 March, and that Sinn Féin would take the slot on 13 March.

The following topic was proposed and selected:

  • ‘Hotel provision in Ballycastle’ (Mr D McKay).

4.5 The Order Papers were agreed.

5. Provisional arrangements for Plenary meeting on Tuesday 20 March 2012

Executive Business

5.1 Members noted that the following Executive Business was scheduled for Tuesday 20 March:

  • Motion – Draft Welfare of Animals (Permitted Procedures by Lay Persons) Regulations (NI) 2012;
  • Motion – Draft Welfare of Farmed Animals Regulations (NI) 2012;
  • Motion – Mesothelioma Lump Sum Payments (Conditions and Amounts) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2011;
  • Motion – Pneumoconiosis, etc., (Workers’ Compensation) (Payment of Claims) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2011; and
  • 4 Question Time slots –
    • Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development;
    • Minister for Employment and Learning;
    • Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment; and
    • Minister of Finance and Personnel.
Committee Business

5.2 Members agreed to reschedule the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety’s motion on ‘Provision of IVF Treatment’.  

Private Members’ Business

5.3 Members agreed that no private Members’ motions would be scheduled. However, the rescheduling of Mr Dunne’s adjournment topic on the Regeneration of Bangor Town Centre was agreed, see paragraph 4.4.          

5.4 The provisional Order Paper was agreed.

6. Question Time Rota

6.1 The Speaker referred Members to the Question Time Rota from Easter to Summer Recess 2012. Members noted the two day public holiday on Monday 4 and Tuesday 5 June, including the fact that there would be no sittings on those days and, therefore, no Question Time.

7. Any other business

7.1 The Speaker referred to his concerns about comments made during two recent Matters of the Day.  He asked Whips to ensure that this item of business is not used for political point scoring, and cautioned parties that he will not hesitate to intervene in future if he believed that it was being abused.

7.2 Lord Morrow referred to his continued concerns that Standing Orders provide for very little in the way of sanctions when Members or Ministers contravene them. 

7.3 The Speaker thanked members for their co-operation in relation to the changes on 12 and 13 March resulting from the additional Executive business on those days.

8. Date and Time of next meeting

8.1 Members agreed to meet at approximately 12.30pm on Tuesday 13 March 2012 in Room 106.

The Speaker brought the meeting to a close at 12.55pm.

Mr William Hay

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