Suspension of Standing Orders

Assembly Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly on 8th February 2010.

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Photo of Lord Maurice Morrow Lord Maurice Morrow DUP

I beg to move

That Standing Order 20(1)(a) be suspended for 8 February 2010.

Photo of Alex Attwood Alex Attwood Social Democratic and Labour Party

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I refer you to the first item of business that you dealt with, namely the letter from the First Minister in which he revoked his decision to step down as First Minister. Given that his decisions to step down and to step back into the office of First Minister were important political developments and matters of high public interest and that those decisions affected the authority and standing of both the Executive and the Assembly — Mr Robinson is not just First Minister but a Member of the Assembly — is it not in order that the terms of the opinion given to the First Minister by Mr Paul Maguire QC should be lodged in the Assembly Library? Is it not in order that the terms of reference given to Mr Maguire when forming his opinion should be lodged in the Assembly Library? Is it not —

Photo of William Hay William Hay Speaker

Order. Those are matters for the First Minister to deal with. It is not for the House to judge what the First Minister might do now or in the future. What I have said this morning clarifies the situation as far as I am concerned. Thereafter, those are decisions for the First Minister.

Photo of Alex Attwood Alex Attwood Social Democratic and Labour Party

I understand why you have said that, Mr Speaker. However, the First Minister is a Member of this House, serves at its discretion and was nominated to his position by it. Therefore, matters in respect of stepping down from and back into that office, on which I make no particular value judgement —

Photo of William Hay William Hay Speaker

Order. The Member should take his place. There are avenues open to the Member, and, if he wishes to pursue the matter, he can do so through questions to the First Minister or through a motion in the House. Raising the matter through a point of order will not be effective. I remind the House that there are procedures: Members can speak to the Clerks about the procedures and conventions through which they can raise issues properly in the House. It should certainly not be done through points of order.

We shall return to the business. Before I put the Question, I remind Members that the motion requires cross-community support.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved (with cross-community support):

That Standing Order 20(1)(a) be suspended for 8 February 2010.

Photo of William Hay William Hay Speaker

As there are Ayes from all sides of the House and no dissenting voices, I am satisfied that cross-community support has been demonstrated.