Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 27 March 2012

Venue: Room 144

1.00pm  The meeting opened in closed session. 

1.  Apologies

Ms Sue Ramsey. 

2. Draft Minutes of the meeting held on 28 February 2012

Agreed: Members agreed the draft minutes of the meeting held on 28 February 2012.  

3. Standing Order 76 – Remuneration and Pensions

The Chairperson advised Members that further legal advice had been sought before the motion to amend Standing Order 76 (which had been agreed at the meeting on 28 February 2012) was tabled in the Business Office.

The Chairperson explained that, in view of the further legal advice, it was necessary to rescind the decision taken at the meeting on 28 February 2012.  

Agreed: The Committee agreed to rescind the decision to amend Standing Order 76, taken at the meeting on 28 February 2012.

The Committee considered a revised motion to amend Standing Order 76. 

Agreed: The Committee agreed the revised motion to amend Standing Order 76. 

1.02pm  The meeting moved into public session.

4. Amendments to Standing Order 26(1)(a)

1.03pm  Mr Storey joined the meeting.

The Committee considered proposed amendments to Standing Order 26(1)(a). 

Agreed: The Committee agreed the motion to amend Standing Order 26(1)(a). 

5. Amendments to Standing Order 27 – Voting/Divisions

 The Committee considered proposed amendments to Standing Order 27, giving the Speaker, in consultation with the Whips, discretion to dispense with the three minutes before putting the question a second time, where more than two divisions relating to the same subject were to be held in succession. 

Agreed: The Committee agreed the motion to amend Standing Order 27. 

Agreed: It was agreed that the motions to amend Standing Orders 76, 26(1)(a) and 27 would be taken at the same time in Plenary. 

6. Departmental performance on Written Questions

The Committee noted a paper outlining the position in the other UK legislatures in relation to whether any sanctions are placed on Ministers for failing to answer written questions within the timescales set.

Agreed: A draft letter to the Speaker, expressing the Committee’s concerns about the statistics on departmental performance, was agreed.  

7. Inquiry into Topical Questions

Agreed: The Committee agreed the Terms of Reference for its mini inquiry into Topical Questions.  

Agreed: The Committee agreed the programme of work for the mini inquiry, the timeframe and who should be invited to give written evidence. 

8. Written responses to Oral Questions – Standing Order 20(9)

The Committee considered a paper by the Research and Information Service, outlining the procedures in some other legislatures which allow another Member to ask the question on a Member’s behalf if they are unavailable.

The Committee also considered a briefing paper including a number of options for amending Standing Order 20(9).

1.15pm  Mr Lyttle joined the meeting.

Agreed: It was agreed that there should be no change to Standing Order 20(9).

1.21pm  Mr McMullan joined the meeting.

9. Use of electronic devices in the Chamber

1.21pm  Staff from the IS Office joined the meeting and answered Members’ questions in relation to the use of electronic devices in the Chamber. 

The Chairperson advised Members of the views expressed by the Party Whips who had responded on the use of electronic devices in the Chamber. Members from the other Parties present gave their Party views on the issue.

1.30pm  Mr Clarke left the meeting.

Agreed: It was agreed that Members should be allowed to use electronic devices in the Chamber.

The Committee considered whether there should be any restrictions on the types of electronic devices that that can be used.

1.36pm  Mr Clarke rejoined the meeting.

Agreed: It was agreed that Members should be allowed to use hand held electronic devices in the Chamber such as iPads, Blackberries, etc.  It was agreed that devices must be kept on silent mode, so that the dignity of the House is preserved at all times and that there is no interference with the audio system or proceedings. It was also agreed that laptops cannot be used because of size and noise issues. 

Agreed: A draft letter to the Speaker, informing him of the Committee’s decision and asking him to issue a ruling on the use of
electronic devices in the Chamber, was agreed.

1.44pm  The Chairperson thanked the officials for their attendance and they left the meeting.

10. Attorney General participation in proceedings of the Assembly

The Chairperson updated Members on the Attorney General’s participation in the proceedings of the Assembly.

Agreed: It was agreed to return to the issue in September or October 2012, when the report on the responses to the Department of
Justice consultation on the Governance and Accountability of the Public Prosecution Service should be available.

11. Budget Scrutiny

The Chairperson updated Members on proposals to amend the budget scrutiny process. The Chairperson advised Members that before the summer recess the Committee for Finance and Personnel will be issuing a discussion paper to statutory committees and the Committee on Procedures setting out the options for improving budget scrutiny.

Agreed: It was agreed to consider the matter further on receipt of the discussion paper.

12. Forward Work Programme

Agreed: It was agreed that a review of Standing Order 47 should be added to the Forward Work Programme, and considered at the meeting scheduled for 24 April 2012.

Agreed: Subject to the decisions taken at the meeting, the Forward Work Programme was agreed.

13. Correspondence

The Committee considered correspondence from Lisa Saunders.

Agreed: A draft response to Ms Saunders was agreed.

14. Any other Business

None.

15. Date, time and place of next meeting

It was agreed that the next meeting would take place on Tuesday, 24 April 2012 at 1.00pm in Room 144, Parliament Buildings.

1.50pm  The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

Gerry Kelly
Chairperson, Committee on Procedures
24 April 2012

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