Northern Ireland Assembly Flax Flower Logo

Northern Ireland Assembly

Tuesday 19 June 2001 (continued)

The Deputy Chairperson of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development (Mr Savage):

I too welcome the Minister's comments. He mentioned that the agriculture sector is of much greater significance to our country than it is in England and that we need to think very carefully about how our Budget can best be deployed.

Does the Minister agree that following the foot-and-mouth disease crisis, which came hard on the heels of the BSE crisis and, effectively, a decade of collapse in agriculture, that the time is right to restructure the agriculture sector? Everybody says that that needs to be done, and I moved a motion to that effect last December. Does the Minister agree that we should take this opportunity to try to restructure the agriculture sector, including fishing?

We have come through a crisis through which no other industry has come. My Colleague mentioned the pay rises to lecturers in further education colleges. We are not talking about a pay rise; we are talking about a survival package. Something has to be done . I hope that the Minister will take that on board. Those of us on the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee pride ourselves on the fact that agriculture is, as he said earlier, a value-for-money sector.

Mr R Hutchinson:

The Member is making a speech.

Mr Savage:

I hope that I work in the department of value for money, but this has to work two ways, and we need help.

I shall ask my question and shall come to my point. I do not need any help. - [Interruption]

Mr Speaker:


Mr Durkan:

Mr Savage has asked a number of questions and made some salient points about the pressures and difficulties facing agriculture - and not just the pressures from the immediate fallout and impact of foot-and-mouth disease, but some of the longer-term structural challenges.

This is an area in which I want to be careful. After all, we are at preparatory stage for the Budget, and I look forward, on the basis of Mr Savage's remarks, to the views and insights that will come from the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee on those matters. The Committee will help the Executive think through how best to support the sort of changes and developments that are needed for the long-term good of agriculture.

I want to be careful about taking up his invitation to make a specific call for restructuring, wholesale restructuring or whatever. Many people in agriculture might make a benign response to a call from him phrased in those terms, but they might not make such a benign response to a similar call from the Minister of Finance and Personnel. People tend to look negatively at any strategic analysis that we offer as a threat rather than as an encouragement.

I have shared this with you before, Mr Speaker: as Minister of Finance and Personnel, I do not suffer from depression, but I am a carrier, so I will be more than happy, as will the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and Executive Colleagues, to reflect on the sort of thinking that Mr Savage is sharing with us on behalf of the Committee.

Mr Bradley:

I too welcome the Minister's statement and endorse the other comments made. Can the Minister confirm that more professional procurement can play an important role in generating value for money and helping to achieve the wider social and economic goals that will meet society's needs?

Mr Durkan:

The procurement review implementation team, which was established in February 2001, is reviewing procurement policy and procedures with very much the purpose that Mr Bradley has referred to in mind. The findings of the initial review, which was conducted before devolution, indicated that, if we were to set similar targets to those set for Departments in Great Britain, we could achieve procurement savings of £30 million.

Such significant savings for a devolved Administration to administer and direct towards some of our spending priorities would be useful. The more efficient our procurement procedures are, the more value for money can be achieved, and, in turn, the more money can be allocated to other public service needs.

11.30 am

The review team has also been asked to identify the scope for using procurement to achieve local social and economic objectives. That is a fairly complex legal area, and I look forward to receiving the report from the review team.

Mr R Hutchinson:

I thank the Minister for his - [Interruption]

I suppose that one has to take as much as one gives. I welcome the Minister's statement and the moneys set aside for the redevelopment of Belfast city. It is important that that should happen. However, does the Minister agree that there are several important provincial towns that also need investment? Some of those towns have been allowed to fall into a terrible state because of sectarian trouble, population movement or out-of-town shopping. Will the Minister assure the House that some consideration will be given to that?

Mr Durkan:

Members have an exercise that allows them the opportunity in the Chamber - and particularly in the Committees - to raise and explore issues such as that which Roger Hutchinson mentioned. Today we are allowing for pre-Budget reflection and input from the Assembly and Committees.

The position report is reflecting issues concerning the Departments, issues that they have brought to the attention of the Office of the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister and the Department of Finance and Personnel relating to Programme for Government planning and Budget planning.

The references made to Belfast in the context of the Department for Social Development budget are clear. If Members wish to make further representations to the Department for Social Development to apply similar attention in other towns, they are free to do so. It is not for me in any context - and certainly not in this preliminary pre-Budget context - to give definitive commitments of the nature that Mr Hutchinson has sought.

Mr McHugh:

Go raibh maith agat, a Cheann Comhairle. I agree with much of the Minister's statement. However, my problem with previous statements was that they were vague in stating what might be spent in the next round in areas that we consider priorities, and with how we might approach that.

In Britain, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) has been removed. Will that impact upon the Assembly's views on how to prioritise spending for agriculture in our Budget? Will this perceived movement away from agriculture by the British Government impact on how the Executive might view priority spending for agriculture in the next round?

Mr Durkan:

The Executive are alert to the importance of the agriculture sector in our economy and its importance to the whole region. The implications of the changes in departmental designations in Whitehall will not make any material difference to how we set our priorities.

It is for the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister to determine what Departments we have and to designate their structures and titles. The move to a dedicated Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is supported by the Assembly. It is a Department that is working hard to serve the needs of its sector and one that is co-operating with the Committee.

The Executive will be as supportive and as responsive as possible to the needs and services that are represented in the work of all Departments, including the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Changes in departmental designations will not materially affect the priority that we want to see accorded to agriculture, and the type of support and intervention that we want to undertake in agriculture.

It might make some difference at representational level. It might affect how well our needs are reflected at UK level when it comes to some EU considerations. There may be some change at representational level and in the European policy-influencing area, but not in our own priorities.

The Chairperson of the Committee for Social Development (Mr Cobain):

I want to raise a number of issues on behalf of the Social Development Committee. First, it is important to target social need. Housing is central to that. This year we shall spend less on housing than we did last year. Next year we shall spend less again. The Housing Executive has targeted north Belfast, citing it as having the worst housing conditions in western Europe and highlighting the need for £157 million over the next eight years to tackle that. To date, the Executive have allocated £5 million, and if we continue at that rate, it will take 20 or 30 years to address that issue in north Belfast.

Secondly, there is the matter of rents. Last year's budget was based on an increase of twice the rate of inflation for rents. I benchmark that against targeting social need (TSN). People who live in the poorest sections of society, such as Housing Executive tenants on housing benefits, had their bathroom and kitchen replacement schemes cancelled. That is another first for targeting social need.

Fuel poverty issues that were agreed by the Executive affect a small portion of society. People who are over 60 and have a small income-related pension are not entitled to the fuel poverty entitlements. Similarly, most people who are under 60 and who have severe physical disabilities and those who are under 60 and have a small family are not entitled to the fuel poverty entitlements.

Roger Hutchinson raised an issue about the regeneration of towns and cities. We are spending less this year than we did last year, and according to the Budget we shall spend less next year than we did this year.

I ask the Minister to take on board the concerns of the Social Development Committee. Unless the Executive take those issues on board and allocates sufficient funds that will tackle some of those needs, we are in for a lively Budget debate in November.

Mr Durkan:

I thank Mr Cobain for his warning and the points that he made. Our spending on housing was not reduced last year. We reversed a pattern and saw an increase in housing expenditure last year. The Executive, when budgeting for services for which charges are made, such as rents, will allocate moneys based on certain assumptions.

Those are the working assumptions on which the Executive allocates the money. I indicated at the draft Budget stage and at other points of consideration that, in relation to the Housing Executive budget, the Executive were working on the assumption of rent increases of GDP plus 2%. The Housing Executive was funded on that basis. However, it fell to the Minister and the Department to decide whether that would be the case in practice. The option to go for a lower rate increase of GDP plus 0·5% was taken, and that in turn meant that there would be less rental income and less money to spend on the housing programme. That was not the Executive's choice; it was the choice of the Department and the Minister concerned, and was made within their budget. The Committee for Social Development is free to engage the Minister on that issue in relation to further Budget planning.

Members referred to what was or was not in the statement, and I ask them to look at the overall position report. Mr Cobain stressed that the Executive will have to take account of the needs that he referred to under the responsibilities of the Department for Social Development. I hope that all Committees will take account of the wider realities and pressures that the Executive face and the service issues that the Budget must meet. We cannot go on automatically increasing every single Budget line year on year. If we are serious about making a difference and about reprioritisation as a devolved Assembly, we must spend less on some Budget lines, either because success has been registered in meeting particular needs and overcoming problems or because there are other new needs that take greater priority. We cannot sustain increases in every single Budget line - we do not have the additional money to do that. We hope that all Committees will be realistic about that matter, as well as being assertive in the context of the services that they want to see bettered and protected.

The Chairperson of the Committee for Regional Development (Mr A Maginness):

I welcome the Minister's statement. It has been both interesting and provocative. I note that he said that

"The scale of the bids received from the Department for Regional Development is described as very high; it is beyond what can be afforded through available resources for 2002-03."

As Chairperson of the Committee for Regional Development I accept that. However, I re-emphasise that there has been a historic underfunding of the roads infrastructure, which has led to a serious deterioration in the standard of roads throughout Northern Ireland. There has also been a historic underfunding of water and sewerage, and underinvestment in public transport, and that has led to a serious situation. All three areas must be addressed, and, unfortunately, they must be addressed simultaneously. The high bids are not inflated artificially but reflect the growing need in our society for better roads, better water and better public transportation.

The Minister has rightly stated that there are profound questions on future funding for the Department for Regional Development. I ask the Minister to consider whether there are alternative sources of funding that he or his Department can envisage in the near future that would effectively address the needs mentioned and of which he is aware.

Mr Speaker:

I ask all Members and the Minister to be as concise as possible. I have a substantial list of Members who wish to ask questions, but there are only 15 minutes left for them to do so.

11.45 am

Mr Durkan:

I assure Mr Maginness that my reference to the scale of bids from the Department for Regional Development was not meant to imply that there were inflated bids. I reflected on the historical underfunding that exists there. We have consultations at Committee and Executive level, and it is important to hear the results of deliberations such as those from the Committee for Regional Development on issues that are, as Mr Maginness acknowledges, profound.

If there has been historical underfunding, there is also current underfunding in the Northern Ireland budget at large, and we have to work with that reality. We need to look at issues that must be addressed to get more resources for certain services. That comes back to the issue about charges that was raised by Mr Leslie, in particular, for services for which we get no money from the Barnett formula. We get no money for water and sewerage from the Barnett formula, and we must fund those services out of whatever resources we have. We need to think about the degrees of priority that we accord to the needs that are registered. We shall try to take account of particular priorities and pressures that exist across all Departments, and we shall take the Committees' views into account. We ask the Committees to look not only at what needs more money, but at how to get more money.

My Department does not have a "magic bullet". Some people think that there are easy options, that it is just a matter of establishing a new super bond. Unfortunately, that would not help us under existing Treasury rules. We are governed by a departmental expenditure limit. As my officials point out, the departmental expenditure limit does exactly what it says: it limits the amount of money that Departments have to spend. Therefore, if we were to get resources by other means, we would still come up against that spending limit. That is one of the reasons for having a high-powered working group to look at ways of supplementing our public spending through other means, including private funding.

Mr Gibson:

I thank the Minister for his pre-Budget statement and for yesterday's draft. An unfortunate phrase has entered our political vocabulary - "rural proofing". I do not regard the rural community as something to be equated to vandal proofing, child proofing or theft proofing. The rural community is an important part of society. However, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development introduced that phrase. The Programme for Government talks about social inclusion and New TSN, but there is no mention of rural proofing.

As a result of the crisis in the rural community, we expect some form of positive discrimination so that we can get an equality of results. I am grateful that the Minister has allocated £10 million to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for a vision for the future of agriculture. However, nowhere in today's statement or yesterday's draft was there any indication of how rural proofing would be carried out, whose responsibility it is, which Department is in charge or how it will be financed. How will rural proofing be carried out to support the rural community?

Mr Durkan:

I hope that Members do not expect the concept of rural proofing to be translated into a Budget line of that name. The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development has championed and emphasised the concept. Although that Department will, obviously, have a particular responsibility for, and interest in, ensuring that the needs of the rural community are properly met, a similar responsibility will fall to all Departments that provide services across the region, including those services to people in rural communities. The issue can also be usefully taken up through the channels available to the various departmental Committees, which can question how well rural proofing is done by the corresponding Departments as far as their particular spending programmes are concerned.

In a draft or revised Budget, I present the spending decisions made, in broad terms, at Executive level. It is then the responsibility of individual Departments and Ministers to translate those into specific spending decisions that support services across the region. I reiterate that Committees are free to explore and interrogate those detailed spending issues. Questions on those issues should not be asked in a setting such as this, but should be taken up with the various Departments.

The Deputy Chairperson of the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment (Mr Neeson):

In the past, the "economy budget" has been an easy option for extracting funding at a time of crisis. Can the Minister assure me that the Budget will not be tampered with, bearing in mind that major projects, such as the Northern Ireland science park, have not been outlined as part of the Budget itself?

The Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment is currently investigating energy provision in Northern Ireland. Will the necessary funding, especially for the expansion of the natural gas pipeline, be made available from the Executive programme funds?

Mr Durkan:

I assure Mr Neeson that we are not identifying any departmental budget as an easy option. I hope that Members recognise that if we do not allow ourselves to reprioritise, or to refuse to increase one Budget line so as to make more money available for significant increases elsewhere, we shall only continue the patterns set under direct rule. Either we want to make a difference or we do not.

The Executive will decide the broad Budget allocations in respect of different programmes. In the Programme for Government, the Executive have defined a competitive economic situation as a high priority. Infrastructural commitments are of similar importance. We have made clear that money could be available from the Executive programme fund for infrastructure for projects like the gas pipeline. That obviously depends on the value and economic strength of the given proposals. It would be wrong to promise more than that or to pre-empt negotiations or Executive decisions about either the Executive programme funds or to the wider Budget.

The Chairperson of the Audit Committee (Mr Dallat):

As an eternal optimist, I welcome the Minister's statement. If I were in the Gallery, would I be right to assume that the statement triggers a process that, if properly used, will enable us to break away from the pattern of direct rule expenditure?

Am I correct to assume that we can now prioritise expenditure against our agreed Programme for Government, thereby meeting people's needs in a more appropriate way?

Mr Durkan:

I would like to think that the eternal optimist Mr Dallat would be correct in making that assumption if he were sitting in the Gallery. We have challenges before us. We must match the limited public expenditure available to us to the right priorities, and they must be our priorities. We have taken some strides in that direction through the creation of the Programme for Government, the agreed Budget and the establishment of the Executive programme funds. We want to continue to break away from direct rule patterns of expenditure. We shall be able to do that only if we do not insist, as an Assembly or as an Executive, on being handcuffed to previous Budget patterns and commitments. We need to be ready to reprioritise. We can reprioritise as effectively as our decisiveness will allow.

Mr Armstrong:

I welcome the Minister's statement. It is very fitting that we have a devolved Government in Northern Ireland. Today we are looking to the future of Northern Ireland, and especially to next year's Budget. Since the Belfast Agreement in May 1998, we have been looking forward to a brighter future for all the people of Northern Ireland. We all hoped for a time when we could make decisions in Northern Ireland for the people of Northern Ireland. However, today the future of Northern Ireland is still in the hands of Sinn Féin and the IRA. For the past 30 years, the country has been put in debt following the destruction of people and property.

Mr Speaker:

Order. This is an opportunity for the Member to ask questions on the pre-Budget statement, not on the Budget or anything else.

Mr Armstrong:

The agriculture industry is a shambles, and most of the budget is spent on administration. Is the budget too small, or is the Department not efficient enough? That question must be addressed by the Executive. Agriculture must be restructured so that farmers in Northern Ireland can have a fair day's pay for producing a superior product. Farmers are living on the knife-edge of bankruptcy. We cannot sell the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Mr Durkan:

I note Mr Armstrong's point, but I shall not borrow the phrase that he used, because the wrong connotation would be put on it. The Member asked whether the budget for agriculture is inadequate, or whether the Department, or the plans that are in place, are efficient enough. It may be either or both. However, this exercise, with the pre-Budget reflections and the consideration when it comes to the draft Budget, allows departmental Committees to explore those issues with their Departments and Ministers. Our total Budget is not adequate to meet all our needs and service demands. We also must ask whether our existing spending plans and patterns are as efficient or as effective as they could be.

Mr Byrne:

I welcome the Minister's statement. I particularly welcome its tone and tenor regarding the introduction of resource accounting and development priorities in the Programme for Government. How will that impact on our future spending powers? Does the Minister envisage discussion with the Treasury leading to an improvement of the Barnett allocation to Northern Ireland, given the limiting factors that we currently have?

Mr Durkan:

I have already touched on some of the points that Mr Byrne raises. The Executive are trying to address with the Treasury the difficulties that the Barnett formula gives us. I have said that it is not just the amount, which is the usual issue with which everyone readily identifies, but some of the implications of resource accounting and budgeting. That is a complex issue, but we must note that the move to resource accounting does not, in itself, have implications for our spending power. However, a fundamental principle of resource accounting is that budgets have to bear a cost in respect of assets held. That will have implications, because, as I have already said, we have a much larger asset base than England.

The Executive - while trying to address those allocation and ambit issues of the Barnett formula with the Treasury - are establishing a high-powered working group to look at other means of supplementing and supporting our public expenditure needs.


Dr McDonnell:

I welcome the statement. Will the Minister confirm that the process initiated today offers a real opportunity for the Assembly and the Committees to play a full part in ensuring that the broad needs of our society are met and that we are not just exploring and raising issues? Will our views be taken seriously?

Mr Speaker:

I am afraid that the time for questions is up. The Member will not be able to complete his question or, I regret, receive an answer from the Minister, except perhaps in writing if the Minister feels able to do so.

I regret the fact that some Members who wished to ask the Minister questions were not able to do so in the maximum time available under Standing Orders. Several Members asked questions that were almost identical to some that had already been asked. In some cases, Members had an excuse as they were not in the Chamber when the questions were asked. However, some Members were in the Chamber when questions were asked, and they asked exactly the same questions again, which is perhaps less excusable. I am sure that the Environment Committee will be happy about the recycling nature of this, but for the rest of the Assembly it is not particularly the best way to use the very limited time available for such a broad issue.


Budget (No. 2) Bill: First Stage

The Minister of Finance and Personnel (Mr Durkan):

I beg leave to lay before the Assembly a Bill [NIA17/00] to authorise the issue out of the Consolidated Fund of certain sums for the service of the year ending 31 March 2002; to appropriate those sums for specified purposes; to authorise the Department of Finance and Personnel to borrow on the credit of the appropriated sums; to authorise the use for the public service of certain resources (including accruing resources) for the year ending 31 March 2002; and to repeal certain spent enactments.

Bill passed First Stage and ordered to be printed.

Mr Speaker:

The Bill will be put on a list of future pending business until a date for its Second Stage has been determined.


Family Law Bill: Final Stage

The Minister of Finance and Personnel (Mr Durkan):

I beg to move

That the Family Law Bill (NIA 4/00) do now pass.

Taking account of your earlier observations, Mr Speaker, I shall not repeat the comments that I made at Second Stage.

This is a short but significant reforming Bill that will best serve the interests of children, their unmarried fathers and step-parents. Generally, it will support strong, healthy family relationships. Equally, the parentage of a child will be more easily established when that is in dispute, and certain presumptions of paternity will be set down in statute.

I sponsored the Bill, as law reform falls within my departmental responsibility. At the Second Stage, it became apparent that the Health, Social Services and Public Safety Committee had an obvious interest in the subject matter. The Finance and Personnel Committee was obliging in allowing another Committee to conduct the scrutiny stage of the Bill. As a direct result of the deliberations of the Health, Social Services and Public Safety Committee, five amendments were tabled in my name at Consideration Stage. I thank those Committee members.

Although only one of the five amendments was substantive in nature, it significantly improved the Bill in the way in which it amends the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995. The amended provision directs courts to look to the best interests of the child when considering an application to make a parental responsibility order in favour of an unmarried father or a step-parent.

As I said in an earlier debate, our legislation on the interests of the child is more advanced than that in other jurisdictions on these islands. Another innovation that others are following is the conferral of joint parental responsibility on those who jointly register the birth of their child. We all agree that that is a common sense measure that most people already assume to be the law.

Members are interested to know when the reforms will come into operation - should the Bill be passed. I cannot give a precise commencement date, but it is likely that the Bill's substantive provisions will come into force in the autumn. The reason for the delay is that, although the Bill is short, there are a considerable number of court Rules and other Regulations that must be made so that the reforms can operate as intended.

For the most part, those Rules are the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Court Service, and they are subject to scrutiny and endorsement by the Lord Chancellor. A complicating factor is the interaction between this Bill and certain provisions in Part IV of the recent Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Bill at Westminster.

My officials will use the time to develop an effective publicity and information campaign to raise the public's awareness of the effect of the changes. Members who spoke earlier referred to that point.

Mr Speaker, I commend this short Bill to the Assembly.

Question put and agreed to.


That the Family Law Bill [NIA 4/00] do now pass.

12.15 pm


Committee Business: Assembly Standing Orders


The Chairperson of the Committee on Procedures (Mr C Murphy):

I beg to move

That, in Standing Order 47(7), after "five" insert:

"and such quorum shall be deemed to be present where Members are linked by a video conferencing facility."

The motion to amend Standing Order 47(7), a Cheann Comhairle, is required after advice from the Assembly Commission that it is actively exploring proposals to provide several of off-site locations to facilitate Committee meetings. The aim is to allow local people to have greater access to Assembly Committees and, equally, to allow Committees to interface with local communities. I am aware that several Committees have already undertaken oral evidence sessions outside Parliament Buildings. It is likely that that practice will increase.

One of the key issues raised by Committee Chairpersons in the Commission's consultations about off-site meetings was the feasibility of using video conferencing. That raised the issue of whether a Committee meeting would be in quorum should video conferencing be used with, for example, three members in Parliament Buildings and two members in Omagh. The Assembly's legal adviser has stated that, although the existing Standing Order 47 could be interpreted as permitting a quorum when members are linked by video, it would be better if the Standing Order made it absolutely clear that a quorum can be achieved in such instances. The Committee on Procedures accepts that advice and proposes the amendment to Standing Orders.

Mr Leslie:

I listened carefully to Mr Murphy, and, although for the most part this seems to be a sensible measure, it occurred to me that there might be one problem with it. The circumstances to which the Member referred were essentially in the context of a public Committee hearing, and I do not see any difficulty there. However, if for some reason a Committee does part of its business in private, how can it be certain that those persons who are participating in the meeting by video link are equally conducting their business in private? Although I regret to say that I did not think of that in time to table down an amendment, I wonder whether the Chairperson of the Committee might like to reflect on that matter for future reference.

Mr C Murphy:

I thank Mr Leslie for his observation. Of course, Standing Orders provide that it is up to the Committees to set their own procedures on many of the issues. I am sure that that advice could be relayed to Committee Chairpersons who are intent on setting up an outside meeting with a video conference link. If some of the business must be done in private, they obviously need to reflect on that and set their own procedures in that regard.

I imagine that only certain types of meeting would be held outside of Committee rooms. To date, the only meetings of that nature have been to hear oral evidence. Those are the sorts of meetings - rather than private, in-house meetings about sensitive issues - that people would want to hold in the community. Once the motion to amend has been passed, the Members' Committee can pass on observations and advice to the Committee Chairpersons through the Chairpersons' liaison group.

Question put.

The Assembly divided: Ayes 49; Noes 16



Alex Attwood, P J Bradley, Joe Byrne, Annie Courtney, John Dallat, Bairbre de Brún, Mark Durkan, John Fee, Tommy Gallagher, Joe Hendron, Patricia Lewsley, Alban Maginness, Alex Maskey, Alasdair McDonnell, Gerry McHugh, Mitchel McLaughlin, Eugene McMenamin, Pat McNamee, Conor Murphy, Mick Murphy, Mary Nelis, Dara O'Hagan, Eamonn ONeill, Sue Ramsey, John Tierney.


Ian Adamson, Pauline Armitage, Billy Armstrong, Billy Bell, Esmond Birnie, Joan Carson, Fred Cobain, Ivan Davis, Sam Foster, John Gorman, Derek Hussey, James Leslie, David McClarty, Alan McFarland, Ken Robinson, George Savage, David Trimble, Peter Weir, Jim Wilson.


Eileen Bell, Seamus Close, David Ford, Jane Morrice, Sean Neeson.



Paul Berry, Gregory Campbell, Mervyn Carrick, Wilson Clyde, Boyd Douglas, Oliver Gibson, William Hay, Roger Hutchinson, Gardiner Kane, Maurice Morrow, Ian Paisley Jnr, Ian R K Paisley, Edwin Poots, Peter Robinson, Denis Watson, Jim Wells.

Total Votes 65 Total Ayes 49 (75.4%)
Nationalist Votes 25 Nationalist Ayes 25 (100.0%)
Unionist Votes 35 Unionist Ayes 19 (54.3%)

Question accordingly agreed to.


Resolved (with cross-community support):

That, in Standing Order 47(7), after "five" insert:

"and such quorum shall be deemed to be present where Members are linked by a video conferencing facility."


<< Prev / Next >>