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Northern Ireland Assembly

Monday 31 January 2000 (continued)

Assembly Business


Mr McFarland:

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Sir Reg has kindly addressed the House at the first opportunity following his meeting. Have you had notice that the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety will come to the House this morning to make a statement on maternity services in Belfast?

Mr Speaker:

As the Member knows, the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety will answer questions this afternoon, and there is to be a debate on the issue to which the Member refers. Members know that two and a half hours’ notice is required for a statement. I have not received such notice. If I had, I would have conveyed it to the House.

Mr McFarland:

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. The difficulty is that there will be no opportunity this afternoon to question the Minister in debating terms.

Mr Speaker:

That is an extraordinary suggestion since a two-hour debate is scheduled, for which I am sure the Minister will be present. The time to put questions and seek ministerial response on this issue is in that debate. Given Members’ creative imaginations, supplementary questions may sneak their way into health, social services and public safety questions, for which half an hour has been allotted this afternoon.

Mr P Robinson:

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. You said in response to a point of order that it would not have been in order for you to give a reason for not accepting an amendment. I ask you to reconsider that, because, although you do not have to give a reason for your decision, it would not be out of order for you to do so, and it would be helpful.

Mr Speaker:

It is not appropriate for me to give reasons from the Chair. The Member knows that I am open to conversations outside the Chamber with any Member. A reason given from the Chair would not be proper and would be a breach of precedent in other places. Such action would set an unsatisfactory precedent.

Mr Beggs:

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can you confirm that during the debate this afternoon there will be an opportunity for supplementary questions? My understanding is that there was no such opportunity during previous debates.

11.15 am

Mr Speaker:

There will be no opportunity for supplementary questions. I know of no place in the world where there is an opportunity for supplementary questions after a debate. Members will have an opportunity to speak in the debate, which, I suspect, will be energetic, so I shall have to consider the question of time limits. The Minister is not required to respond but may well do so, perhaps towards the end of the debate. The opportunity for supplementary questions is during Question Time, which will take place this afternoon between 2.30 pm and 4.00 pm.

We must move to the next item of business. I have received notice from the First Minister that he wishes to make a statement on the proposed programme of legislation for the Northern Ireland Assembly.


Legislative Programme


The First Minister (Mr Trimble):

With your permission, Mr Speaker, I wish to make a statement on my own behalf and that of the Deputy First Minister relating to the legislative priorities of the Executive Committee as identified thus far.

Members will recall that the press release issued following the Executive Committee meeting of 18 January announced that four Bills would be brought forward to the Assembly in this session. Of those, the Equality (Disability, etc) Bill has already been introduced. The first of the Appropriation Bills will follow shortly — the second will be introduced in June. The timing of the introduction of the Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Bill will depend on the progress of the parity Bill currently before the House of Commons. The main purpose of this Bill is to amend the law relating to child support, occupational pensions, war pensions, social security benefits and social security administration. It is hoped that this Bill will be introduced before the summer recess.

Members will know that the Equality (Disability, etc) Bill was introduced in the Assembly on 24 January. The reason for moving ahead with the legislation in advance of this statement relates to timing. The Bill would confer additional disability enforcement powers on the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. These powers would be broadly similar to those conferred on the Disability Rights Commission in Great Britain by the Disability Rights Commission Act 1999. In Great Britain the Disability Rights Commission will come into operation on 25 April 2000. Northern Ireland must have similar legislation on this important matter. To enable this Bill to be finalised in time to match the Great Britain timetable, it was necessary to introduce it ahead of this announcement.

In addition to the Equality and Appropriation Bills, the intention is that five Assembly measures will be introduced in February 2000.

The first is the Trustee (Amendment) Bill. This Bill aims to modernise the law on trustee investments by giving trustees wider investment powers. It would introduce for Northern Ireland provisions parallel to Great Britain legislation on the appointment and retirement of trustees.

The Ground Rents Bill would introduce measures to simplify the process by which residential property owners can buy out ground rents and acquire freehold title. This would simplify the conveyancing process in Northern Ireland.

The main purpose of the Deregulation (Weights and Measures) Bill is to introduce self-verification, third-party testing and pre-test stamping of equipment used for weighing or measuring.

The Dogs Bill would amend the Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1983 to give a court or resident magistrate discretion in all circumstances in determining the fate of a dog, including the circumstances of an attack.

Finally, the Fisheries (Amendment) Bill would introduce a package of measures relating to fisheries. In particular, it would enhance the functions of the Foyle, Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission in relation to the promotion and development and licensing of aquaculture in the loughs. It would also include measures dealing with the promotion and development of angling, improvements to licence control, conservation and protection and the regulation of the collection of shellfish from the foreshore. This Bill needs to proceed in parallel with corresponding legislation in the Republic of Ireland.

In addition to the Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Bill and the second Appropriation Bill, there are three Bills which it is intended to introduce before the summer recess.

The Adoption (Intercountry Aspects) Bill should be ready for introduction in mid-April. The main purpose of this Bill will be to create a statutory basis for inter-country adoption, ensuring that this takes place only when it is in the interests of the child and that children adopted from overseas enjoy the same legal status as those adopted in Northern Ireland.

The Health and Personal Social Services (Amendment) Bill should be ready for introduction in May or June. It would establish the Northern Ireland Social Care Council. This body would regulate the social work profession and other social care workers. It would be one of four regional bodies, replacing the UK-wide central council for education and training of social workers.

Of particular local interest, not just in Belfast but throughout Northern Ireland, will be the intention to introduce a Street Trading Bill in June. This Bill aims to permit and support a licensing system to avoid nuisance, interference and inconvenience to persons and vehicles. It will introduce a raft of measures giving district councils power to designate areas where trading may take place, to decide on licence applications, set conditions and fees and take more effective steps to deal with illegal street trading.

So far, I have mentioned only the primary legislation that we intend to bring forward before the summer recess. This is not, of course, an exhaustive list, and it does not preclude other items coming forward. There are a number of other measures which we want to bring forward later in the year but which are not yet ready because of policy or parity issues that have still to be resolved. These include a Limited Liability Partnership Bill, a Financial Services and Markets Bill, an Insolvency Bill, a Resource Accounting and Budgeting Bill, and a Landlords’ Liability for Defective Premises Bill.

Of course, legislation will be necessary to deal with the sale of Belfast harbour, but until the Assembly decides on the precise formulation for that, we will not be in a position to bring any legislation forward.

I am advised by the Minister for Regional Development that there are a number of measures which he hopes to bring forward in a Transport Bill before the summer recess. I will be asking the Procedures Committee to consider, particularly in relation to Bills which will not have completed their passage before the summer recess, an amendment to Standing Order 39, paragraph 4. It would be simpler and more practical if we could ensure that Bills were carried forward from one Assembly session to the next.

This programme is not exhaustive but reflects the legislative needs identified by the Executive Committee so far. As Ministers bring forward new policy initiatives and the programme of government is developed, I expect that additional legislative proposals will be brought to the Assembly.

Mrs E Bell:

I thank the First Minister for giving us details of the intended programme of legislation. It outlines a number of very significant and sensitive issues that we are all concerned about, and we know that the legislation must be brought forward quickly. I look forward to examining the various Bills as they come through the House.

Can the First Minister confirm that there was adequate consultation with the Disability Action representative from the Equality Commission before the Equality (Disability, etc) Bill was laid and that there will be adequate consultation with relevant bodies before the other legislation is passed?

The First Minister:

With respect to the Equality (Disability, etc) Bill, the Member will recall that this proposal has a long history. Originally, it was going to come forward as an Order in Council, and, in that respect, significant consultation had taken place. The Equality Commission met with the Deputy First Minister and myself to urge that the Bill be brought forward as quickly as possible in order to meet the March target for the operation of equivalent legislation across the water.

Under the Order in Council procedure we were accustomed to having extensive consultation with various interests before the introduction of legislation. This was because under that procedure there was not a proper debate in a legislature, with appropriate consideration being given, or a committee structure where amendments could be brought forward. Pre-legislation consultation was, in my view, a very inadequate substitute for the proper legislative procedures that we now have.

Of course, consultation with various interests will take place, where appropriate, before policy is formulated and before legislation is brought forward. However, society should generally regard the legislative procedures of this House — its Committee Stages in particular — as the best vehicle for ensuring that a particular interest in the detail of legislation is considered.

Mrs E Bell:

I am encouraged by that.

Mr Speaker:

I remind Members that we will be taking half an hour for these questions.

Mr Wells:

Does the First Minister accept that there is enormous concern among the angling community in South Down at the proposal in the Fisheries (Amendment) Bill that all the waters flowing into Carlingford Lough will be under the control of a cross-border executive body? The bailiffs who have served the area well under the Fisheries Conservancy Board will be made redundant, and control of fishery activity will be handed over to bailiffs from the Irish Republic who do not know the area. A new licensing system will also be introduced whereby anglers will have to buy licences from both the Fisheries Conservancy Board and the new cross-border body. Does the First Minister accept that what is proposed in this Bill does not have the support of both sides of the angling community in that area?

The First Minister:

I am aware of the concerns to which the Member refers. [Interruption]

Mr Speaker:

Order. It is ridiculous that Members and others are leaving their telephones switched on in the Chamber. This matter has been raised before, and it is absolutely clear that it is discourteous to the Assembly. It has happened on three occasions already this morning, and that is not acceptable. If it continues we will have to request that the Doorkeepers ask Members to leave their telephones outside the Chamber. And what applies to Members applies also to those in the Gallery also.

The First Minister:

As I was saying, I am aware of the concerns that have been expressed about the south Down area, but one should not prejudge this matter. It should not be assumed that the introduction of the new arrangements will automatically mean that those currently working with the Fisheries Conservancy Board will lose their jobs or be transferred elsewhere. People may be able to continue in their jobs or, at least, to apply for posts under the new arrangements.

Regarding his other concerns, the Member will be aware that what is happening in the south Down area parallels what has been happening in the Foyle catchment basin for nearly half a century. This is not an entirely novel proposal, and it works reasonably successfully there. There is no reason to suppose that it cannot work in a similar way in the south Down area.

Sir John Gorman:

Can the First Minister explain what is wrong with Standing Order 39(4)? Why does it need an amendment?

The First Minister:

I thank the Member for raising this point. Under the current Standing Orders there is a provision to carry over legislation from one session to another with the leave of the House, which might or might not be granted. This could cause a problem with parity legislation, and the problem will arise in particular with the Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Bill. This is parity legislation which affects payment of benefits.

The equivalent legislation is going through the House of Commons, and it will not complete its passage there until shortly before the recess. Consequently, we are limited in how far we can proceed with the measure in this Chamber, because we can amend legislation only during the Consideration Stage, and we cannot amend provisions until they have completed the last stage in London at which an amendment can occur. Towards the end of our session, maybe even later, we might have to try to introduce a Bill very quickly. That would obviously cause difficulties, because we must have the Northern Ireland Bill on the statute book at the same time as the Great Britain Bill comes into operation, and that is intended to be the beginning of October.

11.30 am

There is a unified process for the payment of benefit in both areas. Everything is on one computer, and with regard to parity legislation coming into operation, we cannot permit a gap of even one day. The potential difficulty in carrying over legislation from one session to another could create such a gap. This is an important matter, particularly with regard to parity legislation, and it is therefore appropriate that the Procedure Committee re-examine this issue in order to ensure that there will not be a gap in respect of benefit entitlement.

Mr Neeson:

I listened to the First Minister’s statement with interest, and it seems to me that the programme is fairly unadventurous, to say the least. Some people might feel that the Assembly needs to find its feet gently. However, does the First Minister not agree that there is an urgent need for the Assembly to prove its value to the wider community and to show that it makes a real difference to the lives of ordinary people in Northern Ireland?

The Bills which have been suggested may be worthy, but they seem intended merely to bring Northern Ireland legislation into line with that in the rest of the UK and to comply with European directives. How does the Assembly intend to show the policy innovation that is supposed to be the hallmark of regional government?

It is almost six weeks since the Minister of Finance and Personnel made his Budget statement. Why are we still waiting for an Appropriations Bill?

The First Minister:

With regard to Mr Neeson’s last point, I expect the Appropriations Bill to be introduced very soon, and I hope it will proceed quickly through the Chamber.

On the Member’s more general comments, I am glad that he at least finds the programme to be worthy. It may be unadventurous and largely to do with achieving parity, but it also brings forward proposals which were in the pipeline when we assumed office. There will be a need for us, in terms of the development of the programme of government, to consider what areas of policy the Assembly wishes to develop and carry forward. The consideration of these matters rests with Ministers, with Departments and also with the appropriate Committees. It will take time for the Assembly to evolve its own policies, but it is better to take that time than to rush matters in order to grab a few headlines. That is not how we intend to proceed.

Mr Gibson:

I am grateful to the First Minister for the information.

May I enquire where the Dangerous Wild Animals Act (1976) has got to? The Minister of the Environment promised us that plans were in place to introduce equivalent legislation here. Is the First Minister aware of the ridiculous situation, particularly in my constituency of West Tyrone, whereby a person can walk up the street of Omagh town with a lion on a piece of binder twine as a pet, yet a farmer cannot move his livestock without a permit? Even a dog requires a permit. I ask the First Minister to consider seriously the fact that these animals are being fed on dead domestic animals and that there is a high consequential risk of disease being imported from all over the constituency as well as from across the border.

Is the Minister aware that in the Minister of the Environment’s constituency it cost £250,000 to catch a Sligo wolf, and is he also aware that it cost £750,000 to catch the Aughnacloy beast? Is he aware too that recently a resident of Seskinore — a Siberian cat — was exported illegally and shot in the streets of Los Angeles? [Laughter]

The First Minister:

I am disappointed that some Members find this cause for hilarity. This is a very serious issue, and the Member is quite right to draw attention to it. He is aware that it is a matter for concern, and we fully understand those concerns and the need to make rapid progress.

I can refer the Member to the answer given by the Minister of the Environment in response to an oral question on 24 January when he stated his intention to bring a Bill before the Assembly as soon as possible. As far as we can, we will fulfil that commitment.

Mr A Maginness:

I welcome the First Minister’s statement and, in particular, the proposed legislation on street trading, which has been an extremely serious problem in Belfast and has affected a great many citizens, especially bona fide retailers. I understand that the Bill is to be introduced in June. However, given that it is the Christmas period which gives rise to the most serious problems with illegal street trading, can the First Minister indicate whether that legislation will be in place before Christmas, thus enabling us to deal with this particular mischief?

The First Minister:

I thank the Member for drawing our attention to the urgency of this matter. The comments I made earlier about the ability to carry over legislation from session to session are also appropriate with regard to this matter in case any problem arises with it. As the hon Member says, it is our intention to introduce this legislation in June with a view to having it on the statute book by Christmas. It is clearly our intention to have it in place for Christmas, which is when the greatest nuisance is caused.

Mr Leslie:

I welcome the First Minister’s statement with slight misgivings. I notice that some six of these Bills seem to be headed for the Finance and Personnel Committee for their Committee Stage. In the interest of equality, I trust that the programme of government will spread the burden more evenly in the future. I should like to return to the Street Trading Bill. I notice that the First Minister mentioned a raft of measures giving power to district councils. I wonder whether he sees this as a first step towards a reallocation of powers and an increase in district councils’ functions.

The First Minister:

I thank the Member for his comments and note what he says about providing more work for other Committees, rather than overloading the Committee on which he has the honour to serve. We shall, as far as we can, pay attention to that.

With regard to his other comment about local government generally, I hope that he will forgive me if I decline to follow him down that road, except to say that the Assembly has committed itself to undertaking, among other things, a review of public administration generally, outside the departmental structures. That is something that the Executive intends to carry forward as soon as is practicable.

Mrs Nelis:

Go raibh maith agat, a Chathaoirligh. I note with concern the Minister’s views on Down fisheries. He said that this legislation would not be entirely different from that which applies to the Foyle. Perhaps the Minister should note that fishermen in the Foyle area have no confidence whatsoever in the former Foyle Fisheries Commission. This lack of confidence in the existing legislation has contributed to a serious decline in the fishing industry of that area. Would this legislation address that decline in the indigenous industry and promote parity of esteem with the existing oyster, mussel and shellfish industry in the South of Ireland, particularly in Clew Bay and Tralee Bay?

The First Minister:

It is our intention to make provision in this legislation for the collection of shellfish in the inter-tidal zone and, indeed, to put in place procedures which will encourage the shellfish industry. I would have thought that the hon Member would welcome that, given that the absence of such provision with regard to the Foyle Fisheries Commission has inhibited the development of a shellfish industry in Lough Foyle. We wish to see it develop. I was sorry to hear her comments about the impact of the Foyle Fisheries Commission on finned fish fishing and her suggestion that the industry there has declined.

A closer examination of the matter would show that the decline is not due to the commission’s activities but to illegal fishing, smuggling and poaching.

Dr McDonnell:

I understand why so many of these Bills are functional or technical. When will we reach the stage of debating new legislation? I was struck by the reference to health and personal social services. I have no doubt that it is vital to regulate the social work profession and other social care workers. Some 30% to 35% of our health expenditure is on illnesses that are the direct result of smoking. Can we anticipate the early presentation of a Bill that will make smoking more difficult and, perhaps, raise some taxes that could go towards the Health Service? Can we anticipate raising tax on tobacco to alleviate the serious financial pressure on the Health Service?

The First Minister:

The Member is right to note that the matters he raised will not be included in the proposed Health and Personal Social Services Amendment Bill, although it will deal with specific aspects in that field. He raises general issues that need to be considered more fully by Departments, departmental Committees and the Assembly as a whole. I am not sure that some of the measures he proposes are within the competence of the Assembly, but no doubt he will find ways of pursuing this issue in the course of our proceedings.

Mr McCartney:

Sir John Gorman spoke about the amendment to Standing Orders. I appreciate that on issues of parity such as the First Minister has described, it is necessary for this amendment to be brought forward. Will such instances be limited to issues of parity where speed is obviously of the essence, or will it be a general requirement to have the approval of the House to be withdrawn entirely?

I move from that specific issue of parity to some of the matters that were raised by Mr Neeson. It appears that most of the proposed legislation is parity legislation, in the sense that we are rubber-stamping provisions that are applicable to the United Kingdom as a whole, and that those matters that specifically refer to Northern Ireland are not ones that will cause consternation in the streets of Belfast, Derry or Newry. I am thinking of measures such as the Dogs Act or legislation on the gathering of shellfish. Does the Minister propose to give us any indication of projected fundamental legislation relating, essentially, to the welfare and social strength of the people of Northern Ireland?

The First Minister:

My answer to the Member must be a repeat of my earlier answer to Mr Neeson. Yes, these are unexciting and largely parity measures. Development of more innovative legislation depends on the development of more innovative policies. It is for the Assembly and the Administration to develop policies. That is why we have a programme of government and why we are considering that programme. I am sure that if we have the opportunity during the coming weeks and months, we shall present to Committees and to the Assembly measures relating to the programme of government, or policies intended to be included in that programme, which can then be clothed in legislation.

The Member asked about parity. From a benefit point of view we have to maintain parity. The other measures that I mentioned relate to commercial matters, limited liability partnership and financial services insolvency, and there are powerful arguments there for the maintenance of parity. Some of those measures actually stem from European directives where commercial law provision is largely now uniform on a European Union basis. It is valid to ask why there should be legislative capacity here on matters that have to be — and which it is generally acknowledged ought to be — uniform, either on a UK basis or an EC-wide basis.

11.45 am

The Member may recall from the time he spent at the inter-party talks that I never succeeded in persuading other parties to debate the valuable issue of the legislative competence of this Assembly and where it would or would not be appropriate.

With regard to the carry-over provision, I will be suggesting to the Procedures Committee — and, of course, this is a matter for that Committee and for the Assembly — that we have a general power to carry over from session to session. The absence of a carry-over provision will cause problems with the legislative programme. It will mean that the legislative programme will have to be stacked at the beginning of a session, and that will cause a bunching of matters. It could also, on occasion, hold up and delay legislation. In my view this is a rather archaic requirement which is going to cause us particular problems with social security legislation.

Mr McClelland:

I welcome this programme of legislation. As other Members have said, it appears dull and unexciting at first sight, but it will affect a large number of people. When the First Minister comes to deal with the Dogs Bill he should recognise the high cost incurred by local authorities under the current legislation. They are responsible for initiating proceedings, for looking after the welfare of animals pending court cases and for further costs in the event of an appeal. Will the First Minister look at an alternative approach to this problem?

The First Minister:

I note the Member’s comments. I hope he will forgive me, but I am not in a position to reply to them at the moment. I will ensure that he gets a detailed reply.

Mr Savage:

Following from that, may I ask the First Minister whether the phrase "as a result of an attack" includes dogs that attack sheep? There are a number of such attacks in my constituency, especially at this time of year. Will the new Bill take this into consideration?

The First Minister:

Yes. Under the Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1983, a dog that has attacked a person or livestock is subject to a destruction order. The amending Bill proposes to give the court discretion to take account of all the circumstances, rather than simply impose the mandatory sentence.

Mr Dallat:

My question is not about dogs but about fish. I welcome the Ground Rents Bill, which will solve innumerable problems for people seeking freehold title. Has the First Minister any plans to extend that legislation or to examine the question of fishing rights? Decisions reached under dubious charters of the past, particularly around 1600, need to be addressed and anglers, among others, given rights that they would otherwise have had.

The First Minister:

I am sorry to disappoint the Member, but the Fisheries (Amendment) Bill relates specifically to the measures I have mentioned with regard to shellfish and the development of aquaculture in the Foyle and Carlingford areas. It is not intended to explore the much wider issue that he has mentioned, which would involve interfering with rights that have been established for a long time.

Mr Morrow:

The First Minister has told the House that the Fisheries (Amendment) Bill will enhance the functions of the Foyle, Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission. Will this new body also be in control of the rivers that run into these loughs? Furthermore, will this be the licensing authority and the authority that monitors water quality and pollution? The Foyle Fisheries Commission is not perfect, yet this new body is going to be modelled on it, thereby enhancing its credibility.

The First Minister:

I am not aware of any provision in the proposed Fisheries (Amendment) Bill which relates to pollution matters such as have been raised, and I do not know whether it would be possible to introduce amendments along the lines suggested by the Member to the long title. I cannot advise at present, so the Member will have to contain himself until the legislation is published to see whether it can be broadened in the direction referred to.

The commission will deal with the catchment areas of Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough. This means that the way in which the Foyle Fisheries Commission deals with all of the Foyle catchment basin is the way in which Carlingford, which is much smaller, will be managed.

Mr ONeill:

Will the First Minister assure the House that the Fisheries Bill will be subject to examination by the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee and that Members’ concerns will be examined in detail and considered fully?

Will he also comment on the fact that last week the Committee launched an inquiry into angling and fishery control in Northern Ireland and that the information that will be assembled and examined will be of relevance to this piece of proposed legislation? Will the promotion and development of angling, pollution and other issues which concern Members also be examined?

Regarding the management of Carlingford, all Members should welcome the step being taken towards greater control and management — this did not exist before and led to some exploitation.

The First Minister:

The Member made some broad points about angling. Angling is important as a leisure activity for people in Northern Ireland and in terms of tourism generally. During the passage of the legislation there will be opportunity for some matters to be brought forward by way of amendment, but I have to point out that some of the provisions in this Bill relate to the establishment of the Foyle, Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission. They are subject to agreements previously endorsed by the Assembly and entered into with the Irish Government. The legislation has to be brought forward in parallel with similar legislation in the Irish Republic, and so, on those matters, the opportunity to amend will be limited.

Mr Speaker:

The time for questions is up.


Assembly: Election of Deputy Speakers


Mr Speaker:

I now move to the procedure for the election of three Deputy Speakers under Standing Order 5. Standing Order 5 requires that three Deputy Speakers "shall be elected".

I will remind Members of the procedure to be followed. Any Member can rise to propose that another Member be elected as Deputy Speaker. This must then be seconded by another Member, and I will have to check that the Member so nominated is willing to accept the nomination. I will then ask if there are any further proposals, and I will continue to do that until it appears that there are no further proposals. I will then say that the time for proposals is past. If the House wishes, there may be a brief debate.

At the conclusion of the debate, or at the conclusion of the nominations if there is no debate, I shall put the Question that the Member first proposed shall be a Deputy Speaker of this Assembly. Such a vote will have to be taken on a cross-community basis, and the Lobbies will be used for that. We will then proceed through all of those nominated in turn until three Deputy Speakers are elected. Of course, it is possible that no Deputy Speaker will be elected, because each nominee requires cross-community support, but I do not think that that will happen. Once three Deputy Speakers have been elected, any other nominations will fall. The Standing Orders are clear on that.

Rev Dr Ian Paisley:

I propose Mr William Hay, a former Mayor of Londonderry.

Mr Dodds:

I second that nomination.

Mr Speaker:

Mr Hay, do you accept the nomination?

Mr Hay:

I accept the nomination.

Mr Hume:

I propose Mr Donovan McClelland.

Mr A Maginness:

I second that nomination.

Mr Speaker:

Mr McClelland, do you accept the nomination?

Mr McClelland:

I accept the nomination.

Mr J Wilson:

I propose Sir John Gorman for the office of Deputy Speaker.

The First Minister:

I second that nomination.

Mr Speaker:

Sir John, do you accept the nomination?

Sir John Gorman:

I accept the nomination.

Mrs E Bell:

I propose Ms Jane Morrice for the position of Deputy Speaker.

Mr Watson:

I second that nomination.

Mr Speaker:

Ms Morrice, do you accept the nomination?

Ms Morrice:

I accept the nomination.


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