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Assembly Business

– in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 12:15 pm on 3rd October 2016.

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Photo of Naomi Long Naomi Long Alliance 12:15 pm, 3rd October 2016

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Third time lucky. As you will be aware, at the end of last week the reclassification of housing associations was announced by the Office for National Statistics and a short press release was issued by the Department of Finance and the Department for Communities.

I am raising this with you because the use of a press statement as opposed to making a statement to the House on a matter of such significance, given the impact it will have, potentially, on new housing and on the cost of borrowing for the Executive, seems to me to be another attempt to avoid scrutiny and normal practice.

I know, certainly, in Westminster there was a statement when a similar thing took place, because the Speaker there would very much frown on Ministers offering government by press. What will you do to ensure that the House has the opportunity to question Ministers urgently on this important issue?

Photo of Robin Newton Robin Newton Speaker

First, it is not a point of order. It is, indeed, my intention to encourage all Ministers to bring any statement that they wish to make first of all to the House. Having said that, there is no impediment that I can apply; it is a procedural matter. Ministers have the right to issue statements and you have the right to hold them to account as you are doing today. There are other ways in which you can hold Ministers to account for their statements.