Committee Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson Changes: DUP

Assembly Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 10:30 am on 30th June 2009.

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Photo of David McClarty David McClarty UUP 10:30 am, 30th June 2009

I advise Members that the Speaker has received notification of the resignations of Mrs Iris Robinson as Chairperson of the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety; Mr David Simpson as Chairperson of the Committee for Social Development; Dr William McCrea as Chairperson of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development; Mr Robin Newton as Chairperson of the Audit Committee and as Deputy Chairperson of the Committee for Employment and Learning; Mr Jim Wells as Deputy Chairperson of the Committee for Regional Develop­ment; and Mr Simon Hamilton as Deputy Chairperson of the Committee for Finance and Personnel. All resignations will take effect from 4 July 2009.

The Democratic Unionist Party’s nominating officer, the Rt Hon Peter Robinson, has nominated Mr Ian Paisley Jnr as Chairperson of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development; Mr Jim Wells as Chairperson of the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety; Mr Simon Hamilton as Chairperson of the Committee for Social Development; Mr Peter Weir as Deputy Chairperson of the Committee for Finance and Personnel; Miss Michelle McIlveen as Deputy Chairperson of the Committee for Regional Development; Mr Thomas Buchanan as Deputy Chairperson of the Committee for Employment and Learning; and Mr Peter Weir as Chairperson of the Audit Committee. All of those nominations will take effect from 4 July 2009.

Mr Paisley Jnr, Mr Wells, Mr Hamilton, Mr Weir, Miss McIlveen and Mr Buchanan have accepted the appointments. I am satisfied that the correspondence meets the requirements of Standing Orders. Therefore, I confirm that, with effect from 4 July 2009, Mr Ian Paisley Jnr will be Chairperson of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development; Mr Jim Wells will be Chairperson of the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety; Mr Simon Hamilton will be Chairperson of the Committee for Social Development; Mr Peter Weir will be Chairperson of the Audit Committee and Deputy Chairperson of the Committee for Finance and Personnel; Miss Michelle McIlveen will be Deputy Chairperson of the Committee for Regional Development; and Mr Thomas Buchanan will be Deputy Chairperson of the Committee for Employment and Learning.

Photo of Ian Paisley Jnr Ian Paisley Jnr DUP

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I met with the Speaker this morning and have made him aware that I intend to raise this point of order. Yesterday, in the Chamber, one Member accused another of being, in effect, a liar when he used the unparliamentary term “seriously misleading to the Assembly.” [Official Report, Vol 42, No 5, p234, col 1]. I have asked the Speaker to examine the record, given his ruling of 19 November 2007 in which he ruled that the term “misleading the Assembly” or “misleading the House” is unparliamentary language, and I have asked that that language be withdrawn by Mr Declan O’Loan, the Member who made the statement about me.

I have also asked the Speaker whether he can bring a ruling expeditiously to the House regarding the use of other unparliamentary language. I was accused yesterday of unparliamentary language in my use of the words “cheapest”, “lowest”, “dirtiest”, “meanest”, “nastiest” and “cheapest possible”. This morning, I received a verbal assurance from the Speaker that my use of that terminology about Mr O’Loan was, in his words, perfectly correct and used in the proper context of parliamentary cut and thrust of debate. It is important that that is put on the record.

Photo of David McClarty David McClarty UUP

Thank you, Mr Paisley Jnr, for your point of order. The Speaker is, of course, considering your complaint and will report at a later date.

Photo of Declan O'Loan Declan O'Loan Social Democratic and Labour Party

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Yesterday, I raised a point of order and brought matters to the Speaker’s attention. The Speaker said that he was considering those matters. He has yet to report back to the Assembly. Is it in order for another Member to report at second hand what he says is the view of the Speaker in relation to those matters? It does not seem to me to be in order.

Photo of David McClarty David McClarty UUP

Mr O’Loan, I am in no position to comment on that. I am aware that the Speaker is considering the points that were made to him and will report at a later date.

Photo of Alex Attwood Alex Attwood Social Democratic and Labour Party

Further to that point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The point that my colleague Mr O’Loan made is a valid one. There is a fundamental issue about whether Members have the right to reflect to the Assembly what they say the Speaker has or has not said, based on private conversations with him outside the Chamber. That is a fundamental issue regarding the privacy of conversations that the Speaker has with Members; the accuracy of what Members then report as the Speaker’s views; and whether the House will end up being a gossip Chamber that relies on hearsay to give the Speaker’s views to the wider public.

Photo of David McClarty David McClarty UUP

Thank you, Mr Attwood, for that point of order. As I have said already, the Speaker is considering the issues at hand, and no doubt he will take a strong view on the points that you have raised. I am taking no more points of order on the issue.