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NORTHERN IRELAND ASSEMBLY
COMMITTEE ON PROCEDURES
Clerk to the Committee:
The meeting commenced at 1.07p.m.
Mr F Agnew, Mr I Davies, Mr D McClarty.
The minutes of the Committee meeting held on 3 July 2002 were agreed and signed by the Chairperson.
The Chairperson advised that matters arising were tabled as agenda items. However he advised that the issue re ministerial appointments had not been tabled. This was on account of ongoing discussions with the Assembly legal advisor on the proposed wording of the new standing order. The Chairperson proposed that this matter be deferred until those discussions have concluded. The Committee agreed.
The Chairperson introduced the proposed work programme. He explained that as the programme envisaged substantial amendments to Standing Orders he proposed that the Committee engage the services of a legislative draughtsman. The Committee agreed.
The Chairperson proposed that any future amendments to Standing Orders should be written in a more concise and clear format and that the Committee should move away from the traditional Westminster-style terminology that had been used to date. The Committee agreed.
The Clerk presented the proposed work plan. Rev Dr McCrea requested that the forthcoming meetings be identified by date. Following discussion the Committee agreed the workplan.
The Chairperson referred Members to the briefing paper and explained that these recommendations were based on the analysis of the Questionnaire, the Business Committee Report and best practice in other legislatures. The Chairperson expressed his disappointment that, despite the Committee having written on 29th May, the Executive had failed to offer its views on how the procedures re Assembly Questions could be improved.
The Clerk gave a Power Point presentation, outlining draft recommendations along with a number of potential, more radical, recommendations for members' consideration.
Following discussion the Committee agreed that there was little merit in adopting the potential recommendations re Question Time to be on Monday and Tuesday and the First Question to every Minister to be topical. The Committee therefore agreed to remove these from the list of recommendations.
In progressing the Inquiry the Committee agreed to:
The Clerk presented a paper outlining a number of options for recording an abstention.
The Committee agreed to proceed with option 2 in the paper i.e. that Members who wished to abstain should be able to do so by approaching the table and advising the Clerk at Table accordingly. The Clerk was instructed to organise the necessary amendments to the Voting Software and to draft the necessary amendments to Standing Orders and the Operational Advice Notes.
Members considered a briefing paper setting out an amendment to the proposed Standing Order to enable an urgent motion to proceed beyond 7.00pm on a Monday. The Chairperson advised Members that the Clerk was engaged in discussion with the Assembly legal advisor regarding the issue of consequential amendments.
The Committee agreed to the principle of allowing business to proceed beyond 7.00pm on a Monday in order to consider urgent business. The Committee instructed the Clerk to prepare a draft Standing Order and consequential amendments following consultation with the Assembly legal advisor.
There was no other business.
It was agreed that the next meeting of the Committee would be held on Wednesday 25th
September 2002 in Room 152 Parliament Buildings at 1:00 pm.
The meeting adjourned at 2.15pm.
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