Assembly: Committee on Standing Orders

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

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

Yes, there is a difficulty. With regard to Committees of the kind that we are discussing, Standing Order 15(2) states

"each party with at least two members shall have at least one seat on each Committee."

If the three Independents wish to be represented, there is no reason why the matter cannot be dealt with at a subsequent meeting. The problem about dealing with it now is that, as Mr Morrow said, the Whips did not agree entirely on all the matters. Indeed, right up to three minutes before the start of this meeting they could not even resolve who should propose the motion.

If the motion were to be proposed as prescribed, the Initial Presiding Officer would have to take responsibility for moving it. Furthermore, if an amendment were to be proposed to any item, it would, under the Standing Orders, have to be notified in writing to the office of the Initial Presiding Officer at least one hour prior to the commencement of the day’s business. All the Whips were aware that the list did not contain a recommendation for the representation of these three Members, but I received nothing in writing one hour, or even half an hour, before. The matter has only now been raised.

We have no option but to proceed with the Standing Orders as they are. The Assembly would be entirely within its rights if it were to reject the motion as unsatisfactory, but at this juncture the only propositions are those that are before us. However much I might like to do so, I cannot receive amendments, for the time for acceptance has expired.