Assembly:  Committees on Standing Orders and on Devolution

– in the Northern Ireland Assembly on 5th October 1998.

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Motion made:

That the composition of the Committee on Standing Orders and the Ad Hoc Committee on the Procedural Consequences of Devolution be amended to comply with the revised Initial Standing Orders issued by the Secretary of State by adding to each of their numbers one member of the United Unionist Assembly Party. — [The Initial Presiding Officer]

Photo of Lord John Alderdice Lord John Alderdice Initial Presiding Officer

I advised the Assembly that the Secretary of State had determined to amend paragraph 15(2) of the Initial Standing Orders by increasing the upper limit of membership from 18 to 19, and paragraph 16(2) by increasing the upper limit of membership of the Committee to Advise the Presiding Officer from 16 to 17. Since the responsibility for decisions about the latter rests with the Initial Presiding Officer, I have decided to invite the United Unionist Assembly Party to nominate a member to that Committee. The motion, which is self-explanatory, permits the newly established United Unionist Assembly Party to be represented on the Committee of Standing Orders and the Ad Hoc Committee on the Procedural Consequences of Devolution. It seeks the Assembly’s agreement to this course of action and requires a simple majority.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

A Chathaoirligh, Sinn Fein will support the motion on the basis that this is a transitional arrangement which will not bind the Assembly proper to any particular course of action, and I have already discussed this with you, Mr Initial Presiding Officer. While we will always support the principle of proportionality in all matters relating to the work of the Assembly, we will, nevertheless, want to ensure, because of the unique arrangements and procedures which apply here, that there is no scope, by default or otherwise, for abuse of the system here in terms of cross-community representation, parallel consensus, or, further down the line, the d’Hondt system. We support the motion only insofar as it applies to these Committees which will have a very short lifespan.

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

The view of the Democratic Unionist Party is that this is natural justice — justice being seen to be done. If some Members are prepared to try to deny the rights of other Members to serve on Committees in accordance with party strengths, my party will contest that matter hotly with them. Every Member here should be duly represented on the Committees of the House.

Photo of Mr Denis Haughey Mr Denis Haughey Social Democratic and Labour Party

The composition of the Committees which will be set up after the Assembly moves from its shadow form will be based on a completely different procedure from that adopted here. The Committee on Standing Orders was aware of this when it made this proposal.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved:

That the composition of the Committee on Standing Orders and the Ad Hoc Committee on the Procedural Consequences of Devolution be amended to comply with the revised Initial Standing Orders issued by the Secretary of State by adding to each of their numbers one member of the United Unionist Assembly Party.