Assembly: Committee on Standing Orders

Part of the debate – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 6:15 pm on 1st July 1998.

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Photo of Lord John Alderdice Lord John Alderdice Initial Presiding Officer 6:15 pm, 1st July 1998

I shall respond to that point of order and then call Mr Maskey.

Such a matter could perhaps be dealt with — I would have to take advice — by leave of the Assembly, which is usually taken as requiring unanimity. That will be the case when the Assembly has full power to decide its own business. At present, agenda items are prescribed by the Secretary of State.

At this juncture we are not entirely free in that respect. For example, even an Adjournment debate requires the approval of the Secretary of State. Indeed, such a letter was received just before this sitting. What you say would be correct if there were unanimity in the Assembly, but there would probably need to be a suspension to seek the Secretary of State’s approval.