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

It may not be.

Sub-paragraph (b) is unnecessary because paragraph (2)(a) allows the Speaker to determine whether there is sufficient agreement in the Assembly for a Division to be called. If it is not possible for parties to provide two Tellers, clearly there will not be a Division.

We have seen from proceedings to date that there will not be a Division unless Members force one. Some Members said "No" in votes on amendments, but we did not get to the stage where the Initial Presiding Officer felt it necessary to call a Division. Likewise, when Members from one of the smaller parties feel that they would like to have their views on a particular matter recorded, it is quite likely that the Speaker, under the terms of paragraph (2)(b), would decide that there is no need for a Division, as the number of Members calling for it is so small.

However, if we remove sub-paragraph (b), smaller parties will be able to force Divisions, as long as they can nominate Tellers. That seems appropriate in instances where they feel strongly about a particular issue. The removal of this sub-paragraph would not reduce the effectiveness of the Assembly in that regard, and the Speaker would still have considerable discretion in cases where parties cannot nominate the necessary Tellers.

Those are the only issues I wish to raise on this group of amendments.