Standards and Privilege

Part of Assembly Standing Orders – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 7:15 pm on 9th March 1999.

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Photo of Peter Robinson Peter Robinson DUP 7:15 pm, 9th March 1999

If there were a mechanism for allowing that to be the outcome, I would be perfectly content to accept it. However, it could, with a generous interpretation, fall under the original amendment. If that is the general wish of the House I am sure such flexibility might be accorded.

With regard to the suspension of Standing Orders, it seems absurd that we put all the time and effort into preparing and deciding Standing Orders, and then at a whim allow all of the rights and protections that are built into them simply to be swept to the side because a group gets together and decides that it does not like what they say and are going to do whatever Standing Orders would not otherwise allow it to do.

That does not seem to be the proper way to conduct business. It would not be acceptable anywhere else other than a district council — I have often used it. Take it from somebody who has used it on many occasions to great benefit, while in a majority, that if the provision is left in the Standing Orders it can be used in the future. As Mr Weir said earlier, no one knows who might be in the majority in the future. So while it may satisfy some people today, it may not satisfy them four years down the road.