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Minutes of Proceedings

Session: Session currently unavailable

Date: 31 March 2020

The Assembly met at 10.30am, the Speaker in the Chair.

1. Prayers

Members observed two minutes' silence.

2. Speaker's Business

Royal Assent

The Speaker advised Members that Royal Assent had been signified on 27 March 2020 to the Budget Act (Northern Ireland) 2020.

Assembly Business

The Speaker made some remarks in respect to the items on the Order Paper and how, if agreed, they would help the Assembly conduct business in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

3. Matter of the Day

Abortion Regulations

Mr Jim Allister made a statement, under Standing Order 24, in relation to Abortion Regulations on 31 March 2020. Other Members were also called to speak on the matter.

4. Assembly Business

4.1 Motion: Committee Membership

Proposed:

That Mr Andrew Muir replace Mr Trevor Lunn as a member of the Public Accounts Committee.

Ms Kellie Armstrong
Mr John Blair

The Question being put, the motion was carried.

4.2 Motion: Trustees of the Assembly Members' Pension Scheme

Proposed:

That this Assembly appoints Dr Caoimhe Archibald, Mr Pat Catney and Mr Andrew Muir as Trustees of the Assembly Members' Pension Scheme.

Mr Keith Buchanan
Mr John O'Dowd
Mrs Dolores Kelly
Mr Robbie Butler
Mr John Blair

The Question being put, the motion was carried.

4.3 Motion: Establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee on the COVID-19 response

Proposed:

That, as provided for in Standing Order 53(1), this Assembly appoints an Ad Hoc Committee to receive oral statements from Ministers on matters relating to the COVID-19 response and to question Ministers on such statements.

Composition: All Members of the Assembly shall be members of the Committee. The Chairperson of the Committee shall be the Speaker or, in his absence, a Deputy Speaker.

Quorum: The quorum shall be five members including the Chairperson.

Procedure: The Committee may not meet on days when the Assembly is sitting. The procedures of the Committee shall otherwise be such as the Chairperson may determine. Any report of the Committee shall be limited to its minutes of proceedings together with the minutes of any evidence taken before it.

Timeframe: Unless the Assembly previously resolves, the Committee shall exist for a period of 12 months.

The establishment of this Ad Hoc Committee does not prevent Ministers from continuing to make statements to the Assembly in line with the provisions of Standing Order 18.

Mr Keith Buchanan
Mr John O'Dowd
Mrs Dolores Kelly
Mr Robbie Butler
Ms Kellie Armstrong
Ms Clare Bailey

The Question being put, the motion was carried.

5. Executive Committee Business

5.1 Statement – Budget 2020-21

The Minister of Finance, Mr Conor Murphy, made a statement regarding the Budget 2020-21, following which he replied to questions.

5.2 First Stage - Domestic Abuse and Family Proceedings Bill (NIA 3/17-22)

The Minister of Justice, Mrs Naomi Long, introduced a Bill to create a course of conduct offence and a sentencing aggravation concerning domestic abuse and make rules as to procedure and giving evidence in criminal cases involving domestic abuse; and prevent cross-examination in person of certain witnesses in particular circumstances in family proceedings in the civil courts.

The Domestic Abuse and Family Proceedings Bill (NIA 3/17-22) passed First Stage and was ordered to be published.

Deputy Speaker Beggs took the Chair.

5.3 Legislative Consent Motion: Agriculture Bill

Proposed:

That this this Assembly endorses the principle of the extension to Northern Ireland of the Agriculture Bill, as introduced into the House of Commons on 16 January 2020, and consents to the Agriculture Bill being taken forward by the Westminster Parliament.

Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs

Debate ensued.

The sitting was suspended at 12.56pm.

The sitting resumed at 2.00pm, with the Principal Deputy Speaker in the Chair.

6. Executive Committee Business (cont'd)

6.1 Legislative Consent Motion: Agriculture Bill (cont'd)

The Question being put, the motion was carried.

6.2 Motion: The draft Discretionary Support (Amendment No. 2) (COVID-19) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020

Proposed:

That the draft Discretionary Support (Amendment No. 2) (COVID-19) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 be approved.

Minister for Communities

The motion was not moved.

7. Committee Business

Motion: Amend Standing Orders

Proposed:

After Standing Order 109 insert -

110. Temporary Provisions

(1) Unless the Assembly previously resolves, Standing Orders 110-116 ('the temporary provisions') apply in the period from 31st March 2020 - 30th September 2020.

(2) A resolution under paragraph (1) shall require cross-community support.

111. Voting – General

(1) The temporary provisions of this Standing Order supersede those in Standing Order 26 (and see Standing Order 114).

(2) The Speaker, or a Deputy Speaker when in the chair, shall not be entitled to vote on any decision.

(3) A vote shall not be taken on any matter if a quorum is not present.

(4) The Speaker shall judge whether a question is carried or not in accordance with Standing Order 113.

(5) Except where paragraph (6) applies, every decision of the Assembly shall be taken by a simple majority.

(6) This paragraph applies to any decision where these Standing Orders or any statutory provision requires a decision to be taken with cross-community support or other form of enhanced majority.

112. Voting by Proxy

(1) This Standing Order contains temporary provisions for proxy voting.

(2) A member may vote in person or by proxy.

(3) A member who wishes to vote by proxy must give notice in writing to the Speaker.

(4) A notice under paragraph (3) must contain–

the name of the member who wishes to exercise the proxy vote (M);the identity of the member who will vote on M's behalf (P) – see paragraph (6);confirmation that P is willing to vote on behalf of M; anddetails of the period for which P will vote on behalf of M - see paragraph (7).

(5) A notice under paragraph (3) may include confirmation from M that P is authorised to nominate another member to carry out P's functions.

(6) P shall be–

the whip or deputy whip of the party of which M is a member;another member; orwhere–

(i) M has identified a person under sub-paragraph (a) or (b);

(ii) that person is for any reason unable to act for M; and

(iii) M has provided confirmation under paragraph 5

such other member as that person may in writing to the Speaker identify as voting on behalf of M.

(7) M may authorise P to exercise M's vote in the Assembly–

in respect of one or more items of business;in respect of one or more sitting days; oruntil further notice.

(8) Notice under paragraph (3) must be given to the Speaker's Office not later than 9:30am on the sitting day (or as the case may be the first sitting day) on which M intends P to vote on M's behalf.

(9) P shall exercise M's vote in the Assembly by communicating M's name to the lobby clerks and tellers and M's vote shall be included in the numbers counted.

113 Voting – Divisions

(1) The temporary provisions of this Standing Order supersede those in Standing Order 27.

(2) The Speaker shall first seek to judge whether a question is carried by collecting voices.

(3) In collecting voices under paragraph (2) the Speaker may take account of the number of proxy votes exercised by any member.

(4) Subject to paragraph (5), the Speaker shall direct that the lobbies be cleared and the division bells sounded if–

the Speaker is unsure whether or not a question is carried following the collection of voices under paragraph (2); orthe Speaker's judgement as to whether a question is so carried is challenged.

(5) Where a question is put immediately after the result of a previous division is announced, and paragraph 4(a) or (b) applies–

the Speaker may direct that the lobbies be cleared and the division bells sounded; orthe Speaker may direct that the lobbies be cleared and proceed immediately in accordance with paragraphs (7) to (13)

and in deciding whether to direct that the lobbies be cleared and the division bells sounded under this paragraph, the Speaker shall have regard to any representations made by or on behalf of any party whip.

(6) Three minutes after a direction under paragraph (4) or (5)(a), the Speaker shall put the question again, and if paragraph (4)(a) or (b) still applies, he or she shall proceed as set out below. Otherwise he or she shall judge whether the question be carried in accordance with paragraph (2).

(7) The Speaker shall call for the nomination of two tellers for each side of the question but, if within a reasonable time after this call–

a. two tellers for one side but not the other have been nominated, the determination of the Assembly shall be that of the side which has nominated the two tellers;

b. two tellers for each side have not been nominated, the question shall not be carried.

(8) After tellers have been nominated, the Speaker shall direct the Assembly to divide, "ayes" to the right and "noes" to the left, and that the division bells be again sounded.

(9) Four minutes after this direction, the Speaker shall direct that the doors from the corridors to the Chamber and lobbies are secured.

(10) When all members in the lobbies have voted, the tellers shall bring the division lists to the table clerks who will announce the result.

(11) In a division, a member–

is not obliged to vote;may vote although he or she did not hear the question put; andmay vote by proxy (see Standing Order 112).

(12) If the votes in a division are equal the question shall not be carried.

(13) If any member is present within the precincts of the Assembly and is disabled by infirmity from passing through a lobby, his or her name may be communicated by his or her party whip to the lobby clerks and tellers and may be included in the numbers counted.

114. Financial Acts

(1) This Standing Order makes temporary provision equivalent to Standing Order 26(1)(b).

(2) A vote, resolution or Act which–

appropriates a sum out of the Consolidated Fund of Northern Ireland or increases a sum to be appropriated; orimposes or increases a tax

shall require cross-community support (within the meaning of section 4(5) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998).

115. Temporary provision for statutory committees

(1) This Standing Order contains temporary provisions relating to committees established under Standing Order 48, and supersedes paragraphs (3)-(6) of Standing Order 46 and paragraphs (5) and (7) of Standing Order 49.

(2) A committee may meet on any day.

(3) Any member(s) of a committee, including the chairperson and deputy chairperson may attend a meeting remotely, for example by video-link or telephone attendance.

(4) Decisions taken by a committee shall be taken by consensus, and in the absence of consensus following a vote.

(5) A member of a committee may vote in person, by video-link or by telephone.

(6) A member of a committee who is for any reason unable to attend in person, or by video-link or telephone may delegate authority to another member of the committee, including the chairperson or deputy chairperson, to vote on his or her behalf.

(7) The minimum number of members required for a decision, whether by consensus or vote (including delegated votes under paragraph (6)) shall be five.

(8) A committee may agree to make decisions (including a decision not to meet) without meeting.

(9) This paragraph applies where a committee has agreed, or proposes to make, a decision without meeting:

Before a decision is to be taken, the chairperson must:

(i) inform members of the subject matter of the decision;

(ii) provide members with such supporting information as the chairperson considers relevant;

(iii) allow a reasonable time for members to consider the subject matter and supporting information; and

seek consensus among members on the decision.

Where–

(i) there is no consensus on the decision; or

(ii) any member of the committee requires a vote to be taken on that decision

the committee shall vote on that decision.

Committee members may communicate their views under sub-paragraph (b)(i), and their votes under sub-paragraph (b)(ii) to the Committee Clerk by telephone, video-link or e-mail.A member of a committee who is for any reason unable to participate in decision-making under this paragraph may delegate authority to another member of the committee, including the chairperson or deputy chairperson, to act on his or her behalf.The minimum number of votes required for a decision shall be five.Where the chairperson is for any reason unable to exercise functions under this paragraph, those functions may be exercised by the deputy chairperson, and if the latter is for any reason unable to exercise those functions, they may be exercised by a member of the committee determined by the committee.

(10) Votes under this Standing Order shall be carried (or negatived) by simple majority.

(11) Notice of a delegation of authority under paragraph (6) or (9)(d) shall be given in writing to the Committee Clerk.

(12) A general record of the proceedings of a committee shall be maintained by the Committee Clerk.

116. Temporary provision for standing committees

(1) This Standing Order contains temporary provisions relating to committees established under Standing Order 51, and supersedes paragraphs (5) and (6) of Standing Order 52, and that part of Standing Order 58(4) relating to quorum.

(2) Standing Order 115 shall apply to standing committees as it applies to statutory committees, subject that:

The minimum number of members required for a decision of the Audit Committee, whether by consensus or vote, (including delegated votes under paragraph (6)) shall be two.In its application to the Business Committee–

(i) a reference to a member of a committee shall include, where appropriate, a substitute member attending in place of a member and a reference to a deputy chairperson shall include a nominee of the Speaker;

(ii) The quorum shall be five members attending in accordance with Standing Order 115, except when no decision is taken or question put, when the quorum shall be four; and

(iii) Paragraph (10) shall not apply to votes (and Standing Order 55(7) will continue to apply).

Chairperson, Committee on Procedures

Debate ensued.

The Speaker took the Chair.

The Question being put, the motion was carried.

5. Adjournment

Proposed:

That the Assembly do now adjourn.

The Speaker

The Assembly adjourned at 3.13pm.

Mr Alex Maskey
The Speaker
31 March 2020

Northern Ireland Assembly

Papers Presented to the Assembly on 25 March 2020 – 31 March 2020

1. Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly

Budget Act (Northern Ireland) 2020

2. Bills of the Northern Ireland Assembly

Domestic Abuse and Family Proceedings Bill (NIA Bill 03/17-22)

3. Orders in Council

4. Publications Laid in the Northern Ireland Assembly

Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service Trust Statement for the year ended 31 March 2019 (Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service).

Northern Ireland Assembly Members' Pension Fund- Annual Report and Accounts as at 31 March 2019 (The Assembly Commission)

5. Assembly Reports

Report of the Examiner of Statutory Rules to the Assembly and the Appropriate Committees Fifth Report of Session 2019 – 2020, NIA 15/17-22 (Examiner of Statutory Rules)

6. Statutory Rules

SR 2020/42 The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order (Northern Ireland) 2020 (Department for Economy)

SR 2020 (draft) The Discretionary Support (Amendment) (COVID-19) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 (Department for Communities)

SR 2020/44 The Discretionary Support (Amendment) (COVID-19) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 (Department for Communities)

SR 2020/45 The Employment and Support Allowance and the Housing Benefit (Transitional Provisions) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 (Department for Communities)

SR 2020/46 The Mental Health (Northern Ireland) (Amendment) Order 2020 (Department for Health)

SR 2020/49 The Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (General Levy) (Revocation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 (Department for Communities)

SR 2020/50 The Historical Institutional Abuse Redress Board (Applications and Appeals) Rules (Northern Ireland) 2020 (The Executive Office)

SR 2020/51 The Automatic Enrolment (Earnings Trigger and Qualifying Earnings Band) Order (Northern Ireland) (Department for Communities)

SR 2020/ 55 The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 (Department of Health)

For Information Only

SR 2020/47 The Pensions Increase (Review) Order (Northern Ireland) 2020 (Department of Finance)

SR 2020/48 Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Act 2019 (Commencement No. 1) Order (Northern Ireland) 2020 (The Executive Office)

7. Written Ministerial Statements

Minister for the Economy - Small Business Grants

Minister for Infrastructure – COVID-19 Update

Minister of Justice - COVID-19 Temporary Release of certain types of prisoners who have 3 months or less remaining to serve

8. Consultation Documents

9. Departmental Publications

10. Agency Publications

11. Westminster Publications

12. Miscellaneous Publications

Northern Ireland Assembly Legislation:

Stages in Consideration of Public Bills

First Stage: Introduction of Bill.

Second Stage: General debate of the Bill with an opportunity for Members to vote on its general principles.

Committee Stage (Comm. Stage): Detailed investigation by a Committee which concludes with the publication of a report for consideration by the Assembly.

Consideration Stage (CS): Consideration by the Assembly of, and an opportunity for Members to vote on, the details of the Bill including amendments proposed to the Bill.

Further Consideration Stage (FCS): Consideration by the Assembly of, and an opportunity for Members to vote on, further amendments to the Bill.

Final Stage: Passing or rejecting of Bill by the Assembly, without further amendment.

Royal Assent.

Proceedings as 31 March 2020

2017-2022 Mandate
Executive Bills      

  

Title &
   NIA Bill Number

  
  

First
   Stage

  
  

Second Stage

  
  

Comm. Stage to Conclude

  
  

Report Ordered to be Printed

  
  

CS

  
  

FCS

  
  

Final Stage

  
  

Royal Assent

  

Budget   Bill (NIA Bill 02/17-22)

24/02/20

25/02/20

/

/

02/03/20

03/03/20

09/03/20

27/03/20

Domestic   Abuse and Family Proceedings Bill (NIA Bill 03/17-22)

31/03/20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017-2022 Mandate
Non-Executive Bills

  

Title &
   NIA Bill Number

  
  

First
   Stage

  
  

Second Stage

  
  

Comm. Stage to Conclude

  
  

Report Ordered to be Printed

  
  

CS

  
  

FCS

  
  

Final Stage

  
  

Royal Assent

  

Functioning   of Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill (NIA Bill 01/17-22)

03/02/20

16/03/20

 

 

 

 

 

 

/ Bills progressing by accelerated passage

 

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