Part of Assembly Standing Orders – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 5:00 pm on 8th March 1999.

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Photo of Peter Robinson Peter Robinson DUP 5:00 pm, 8th March 1999

This amendment, if moved, would have the purpose of inserting after paragraph (2) of Standing Order 25 the following new paragraph:

"the election of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister shall require parallel consent."

The amendment relates to a matter concerning the election system that is operating in the Assembly. At least three mechanisms are employed — parallel consent, the issue of cross-community support and the simple majority. I felt that it was important to have the definition of the two less-well-known voting procedures included in Standing Orders.

During the debate on the motion to take note of the report, one of the joint Chairmen said that the Committee would consider producing a consolidated document covering all the matters relating to the Assembly. Therefore it might be appropriate not to move amendment No 83, and leave it to the Committee to work on as part of its consolidation. It deals with one of the areas in which the parallel consent mechanism will operate, but as Mr McFarland has pointed out privately to me, that would take the issue of the election of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister out of its proper sequential position in the Standing Orders.

I am quite content not to move this amendment unless there is any strong feeling that I should.

I want to move the amendments which include definitions of cross-community support and parallel consent, as set out in the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and, indeed, in the Belfast Agreement. There was a heading for amendment No 23, which deals with crosscommunity support, just as there is for amendment No 50, which deals with parallel consent. This simply reflects the way that it would be set out in the Standing Orders.

There is also an error in amendment No 25 as set out on the Marshalled List. The reference to Standing Order 26(b) should be to Standing Order 26(2)(b)". I consider Standing Order 26(2)(b) —