Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: 13 February 2013

Venue: Room 21, Parliament Buildings

The meeting commenced at 1.42pm in open session.  

Chairperson’s Introduction

Agreed:  The Committee agreed that the meeting should be held in closed session. 

The Chairperson welcomed Committee members to the meeting. 

1.       Apologies

As above.

2.       Declaration of Interests

The Chairperson reminded Members of their obligation to declare any relevant financial or other interests before and during each Committee meeting.

3.      Draft minutes of the meeting held on 12th December 2012 

Agreed:  The draft minutes of the meeting held on 12th December 2012 were agreed by the Committee.  

4.      Matters arising

There were no matters arising.

5.     Correspondence from the Assembly Commissioner for Standards on a complaint against a Member

The Committee noted the Clerk’s Paper and correspondence dated 20th December 2012 from the Assembly Commissioner for Standards.

The Clerk briefed the Committee on this issue. 

The Chairperson welcomed Mr Douglas Bain, Assembly Commissioner for Standards to the meeting and invited him to brief the Committee on this issue. 

Following the briefing the Chairperson thanked Mr Bain and asked him to remain for the next item on the agenda.

6.     Correspondence from the Assembly Commissioner for Standards on a complaint against a Member 

The Committee noted the Clerk’s Paper and correspondence dated 7th February 2013 from the Assembly Commissioner for Standards. 

The Clerk briefed the Committee on this issue.

The Chairperson invited Mr Douglas Bain, Assembly Commissioner for Standards to brief the Committee on this issue.

Following the briefing the Chairperson thanked Mr Bain and asked him if there were any other issues which he would like to raise with the Committee.

Mr Bain updated the Committee on work he was undertaking.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Bain for attending the meeting.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed with the Assembly Commissioner’s decision that the complaints against a Member included in his correspondence of 7th February were inadmissible.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed that the Clerk should write to the complainant and the Member complained of, enclosing the Assembly Commissioner’s correspondence and setting out the Committee’s decision. 

Agreed:  The Committee agreed that the Clerk should write to the Assembly Commissioner for Standards informing him of the Committee’s decision.

The Chairperson referred Members back to item 5 - correspondence dated 20th December 2013 from the Assembly Commissioner for Standards on a complaint against a Member.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed with the Assembly Commissioner’s decision that aspects of the complaint were inadmissible.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed that the Clerk should write to the complainant and the Member complained of, enclosing the Commissioner’s correspondence and setting out the Committee’s position. 

Agreed:  The Committee agreed that the Clerk should write to the Assembly Commissioner for Standards informing him of the Committee’s decision.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed that the Clerk should liaise with the Assembly Commissioner on the work about which he had updated the Committee.

7.     Proposed Review of the Assembly’s Code of Conduct

The Committee noted the Clerk’s Paper.

The Clerk briefed the Committee on this issue.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed that the Clerk should prepare a paper for a future meeting setting out the terms of reference for a committee inquiry on a review of the Code of Conduct.

8.     Registration and Declaration of Interests – Attorney General for Northern Ireland 

The Committee noted the Clerk’s Paper; a memo from the Committee on Procedures and correspondence from the Committee on Standards and Privileges to the Committee on Procedures. 

The Clerk briefed the Committee on the background to this issue. 

Agreed:  The Committee agreed that the position set out in the correspondence of 9th December 2010 from the Committee on Standards and Privileges to the Committee on Procedures remained its position.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to seek legal advice on the issues set out in the Clerk’s paper before sending its response to the Committee on Procedures. 

9.     Streaming of All-Party Group Meetings

The Committee noted the Clerk’s Paper; correspondence from the Chairperson of the All-Party Group on Science and Technology; correspondence from the Committee to the Speaker; and correspondence from the Speaker to the Committee.

The Clerk briefed the Committee on the background to this issue.

Agreed:   The Committee agreed that the rules on All-Party Groups should not be amended and that the Chairperson should respond to the Chairperson of the All-Party Group on Science and Technology enclosing the correspondence from the Speaker.

10.     Application for an All-Party Group on Country Sports

The Committee noted an application for an All-Party Group on Country Sports.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed the formation of an All-Party Group on Country Sports.

11.     Consideration of responses on the Interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards’ recommendations in relation to preventing leaks

The Committee noted the Clerk’s Paper; correspondence from the Northern Ireland Audit Office; correspondence from the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group; and correspondence from the Speaker.

The Clerk briefed the Committee on the background to this issue.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed that the Clerk should prepare a draft Committee Report for consideration by Members at the next meeting of the Committee. 

12.     Any other business

Members noted correspondence received from the Chairperson of the All-Party Group on Neurology requesting that the name of the group be changed to the All-Party Group on Epilepsy.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed that the name of the group be changed to the All-Party Group on Epilepsy.

Members noted an invitation received from the Northern Ireland Assembly Legislative Strengthening Trust for the Committee to participate in an Effective Questioning and Scrutiny Workshop for committees.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed that the subject to a sufficient number of members being available such a workshop should be organised for the Committee. 

The Clerk updated the Committee on his forthcoming meeting with the Electoral Commission.

13.     Time, date and place of next meeting 

The next meeting of the Committee will take place on Wednesday, 13th March 2013 in Room 21 at 1.30pm (lunch will be available from 1.15pm). 

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 2.22pm. 

Mr Alastair Ross MLA
Chairperson, Committee on Standards and Privileges

Wednesday 13th March 2013

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