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 am grateful to Members for pointing out the difficulty in which I and some others were put. Several meetings of Whips were called, but there was not a full attendance at all of them.

Several other issues were considered. One which has not been brought to the attention of Members is that there is no provision for the Initial Presiding Officer to be on the Standing Orders Committee. That may present a problem. It is one of the difficulties of moving so rapidly from the election into the Assembly itself. I am somewhat at the mercy of rules that have been set down. Having tried hard to work them over the last 36 hours, I realise that they are not very satisfactory. While the issue was raised in a general way, there was no specific proposal to deal with it.

I am not prepared to continue the debate by way of points of order. Arrangements that were put in place were accepted by the Whips, so I ask that any Member who wishes to speak make that known. If there is a way to resolve the problem, let us try to find it. I would be grateful for any proposals. If there is a suggestion that seems to have more support than Mr McGrady’s, the sitting could be suspended so that we might look into it. Otherwise Members will have to vote on the issue at the end of the debate.