Assembly: Committee on Standing Orders

Part of the debate – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 6:00 pm on 1st July 1998.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord John Alderdice Lord John Alderdice Initial Presiding Officer 6:00 pm, 1st July 1998

I said not that they could not be represented but that they did not have a right to be represented. That is what the provision says. In other words, as Mr Peter Robinson points out, if it were decided that one or two or all of them should be on a Committee, that would be entirely possible, but other representations would have to be reduced as the size of the Committee is also laid down. But the matter would have to be discussed. Parties of two or more have certain entitlements, which must be respected. This group of three could turn themselves into a party or make some other arrangement. The Committee on Standing Orders may have to pay particular attention to individuals who are not members of parties.

I know a place where there are Cross-Benchers who do not take any party Whip but have a convenor. They do not have all the privileges that parties enjoy, but neither do they have all the responsibilities. There are some things that the three individuals here do not have, but I understand that they have reasonably commodious accommodation — much more than individual party members.

We must try to ensure that all these matters are dealt with properly, but that could not be done without a Committee on Standing Orders, whose appointment will require a resolution, either today or at the next sitting — perhaps on 14 September — which will necessitate changes in the other membership.

It is not possible to move to an amendment now, because it was not put forward one hour ago. Members who are getting to their feet were aware of the situation.