Minutes of Proceedings
Date: 13 September 2011
Venue: Room 21
1.30pm The meeting opened in public session.
Mr George Robinson.
2. Minutes of the meeting held on 14 June 2011
Members agreed the minutes of the meeting held on 14 June 2011.
3. Declaration of Interests
The Chairperson reminded members of the on-going need to declare any interests which are relevant to the work of the Committee.
4. Committee Stage of Bills
The Chairperson explained that further background research needed to be
undertaken before proceeding with this issue.
Agreed: It was agreed to defer consideration of this matter until the next
meeting scheduled for 11 October 2011.
5. Legislative Consent Motions
The Committee considered a briefing paper prepared by the Clerkwhich outlined the progress to date on Legislative Consent Motions, along with the
process used by the previous Committee in developing proposed amendments to Standing Orders.
Agreed: It was agreed to continue using the same process as the previous Committee in developing proposed amendments to Standing Orders.
Agreed: To issue the latest draft of the proposed Standing Orders 42(A) and 42(B) to stakeholders for comment by 29 September 2011. The Legal Services Office should attend the next meeting scheduled for 11 October 2011, when a final draft of the proposed Standing Orders should be available for consideration.
6. Budget Scrutiny
The Chairperson explained the background and progress to date on the Review of Financial Process for scrutiny of the Executive’s budget and expenditure. As the outcome of the Department of Finance and Personnel consultation on this matter was not expected until early 2012, it was agreed that the Clerk should keep a watching brief on progress and provide updates at subsequent meetings as required.
7. Arrangements for answering Members’ questions in other legislatures
The Committee considered a paper from the Research and Information Service on the arrangements for answering Members’ questions in other legislatures.
Mr Maginness declared an interest, as a family member had prepared the Research paper.
Agreed: It was agreed to forward the Research paper to the Speaker for information, and to invite his comments in relation to the time limits for answering questions.
The Committee agreed that research should be carried out into the Cabinet Office guidance for officials drafting answers to Parliamentary Questions.
8. Amendment to Standing Order 15(4) – Amendments to Motions
The Chairperson advised members that a typographical error existed in line 5 of Standing Order 15(4). The word “question” should read “motion” so that it reads, “That the motion, as amended, be agreed”.
Agreed: It was agreed that Standing Order 15(4) should be corrected on the Assembly website now, and that this error should be corrected in the next reprint of Standing Orders.
9. Amendments to Standing Order 59(4A) – Assembly and Executive Review Committee to Committee for Justice
The Committee considered a letter from the Deputy Chairperson of the Assembly and Executive Review Committee (AERC) regarding Standing Order 59(4A), which relates to the appointment of judicial office holders. The Chairpersons of the AERC and the Committee for Justice had agreed that these matters should now fall to the Committee for Justice rather than the AERC, and requested that Standing Orders be amended accordingly.
Agreed: It was agreed that proposed draft amendments to Standing Orders should be considered at the meeting scheduled for 11 October 2011.
10. Consideration of Standing Order 27 – Voting/Divisions
The Chairperson advised members that the Business Committee had agreed that the Committee on Procedures should consider amending Standing Order 27 to allow the three minute rule to be dispensed with in the event of successive questions.
1.48pm Mr Lyttle joined the meeting.
The Committee considered a briefing paper prepared by the Clerkwhich outlined the procedures in other legislatures and options for the way forward.
Agreed: The Committee’s preference was for Option C – To amend Standing Orders to say that the three minutes do not apply when there is a series of questions to be put immediately after the decision on a previous question, i.e. Members will not have left the Chamber. It was agreed that this option should include the caveat, “subject to the views of the Speaker, having considered Party concerns”.
It was also suggested that an explanatory note be included e.g. “When one or more of the Party Whips requests that the three minute rule be observed”.
Agreed: The Clerk should liaise with the Legal Services Office in preparing proposed draft amendments to Standing Order 27, for consideration by the Committee.
11. Consideration of Standing Order 65(6) – Grave disorder and suspending for one hour
The Committee considered Standing Order 65(6) which states that in the case of grave disorder arising in the Assembly, the Speaker may, if he or she thinks it necessary, adjourn the Assembly without question put or suspend any sitting for one hour.
The Committee considered a briefing paper prepared by the Clerkwhich outlined the procedures in other legislatures and options for amending the Standing Order to allow some flexibility.
Agreed: While the Committee’s preference was for Option B (amend Standing Order 65(6) to allow the Speaker to suspend any sitting for a time to be named by him or her), it was agreed to seek Party views before making a final decision. The Committee agreed a letter for issue to the Party Whips seeking their comments on this matter.
Agreed: The Clerk should liaise with the Legal Services Office in preparing proposed draft amendments to Standing Order 65(6), for consideration by the Committee at the meeting scheduled for 11 October 2011.
12. Forward Work Programme
The Committee was content with the Forward Work Programme.
13. Any other Business
14. Date, time and place of next meeting
It was agreed that the next meeting of the Committee would take place on Tuesday, 11 October 2011 at 1.30pm in Room 21, Parliament Buildings.
1.53pm The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.