Assembly Business 

– in the Northern Ireland Assembly on 17th February 2014.

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Photo of Mervyn Storey Mervyn Storey DUP

On a point of order, Mr Speaker.  Will you give guidance to the House on a matter of concern?  It is whether or not the Education Minister misled the House in a statement that he made on 4 February, when, in response to a topical question, he said:

"I am now in a position where I can confirm that no school will lose any funding as a result of the changes that I have made." — [Official Report, Vol 91, No 6, p38, col 2].

However, Members will be aware that, at the weekend, on the 'Sunday Politics' show, the Education Minister made reference to the fact that he was yet to make up his mind.  That was in agreement with what the Education Committee was told on Wednesday by officials.  Is it, Mr Speaker, in your power to ask the Education Minister to come to the House to clarify and inform Members what those changes are?  To date, they have not been conveyed to the Education Committee and are clearly in contravention with what he said in this House on Tuesday 4 February.

Photo of William Hay William Hay Speaker

The Member and other Members will know that, on 26 January 2009, I made a very firm ruling that the Chair does not have any role in, and certainly does not sit in judgement on, how a Minister might answer a question in the House.  However, I can understand the frustration of Members when they feel that they are not getting the appropriate answer from Ministers to their questions.  I encourage the Member to pursue the matter through further questions to the Minister or through the Committee structures.  There are a number of avenues that Members can use to pursue Ministers if they feel very strongly that they have not got a satisfactory answer.