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Standing Orders

Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:45 pm on 31st March 2020.

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Photo of Thomas Buchanan Thomas Buchanan DUP 2:45 pm, 31st March 2020

I beg to move

After Standing Order 109 insert 110. Temporary Provisions (1) Unless the Assembly previously resolves, Standing Orders 110-116 (‘the temporary provisions’) apply in the period from 31 March 2020 - 30 September 2020. (2) A resolution under paragraph (1) shall require cross-community support. 111. Voting – General (1) The temporary provisions of this Standing Order supersede those in Standing Order 26 (and see Standing Order 114). (2) The Speaker, or a Deputy Speaker when in the Chair, shall not be entitled to vote on any decision. (3) A vote shall not be taken on any matter if a quorum is not present. (4) The Speaker shall judge whether a Question is carried or not in accordance with Standing Order 113. (5) Except where paragraph (6) applies, every decision of the Assembly shall be taken by a simple majority. (6) This paragraph applies to any decision where these Standing Orders or any statutory provision requires a decision to be taken with cross-community support or other form of enhanced majority. 112. Voting by Proxy (1) This Standing Order contains temporary provisions for proxy voting. (2) A Member may vote in person or by proxy. (3) A Member who wishes to vote by proxy must give notice in writing to the Speaker. (4) A notice under paragraph (3) must contain– a. the name of the Member who wishes to exercise the proxy vote (M); b. the identity of the Member who will vote on M’s behalf (P) – see paragraph (6); c. confirmation that P is willing to vote on behalf of M; and d. details of the period for which P will vote on behalf of M - see paragraph (7). (5) A notice under paragraph (3) may include confirmation from M that P is authorised to nominate another Member to carry out P’s functions. (6) P shall be– a. the Whip or deputy Whip of the party of which M is a Member; b. another Member; or c. where– (i) M has identified a person under sub-paragraph (a) or (b); (ii) that person is for any reason unable to act for M; and (iii) M has provided confirmation under paragraph 5 such other Member as that person may in writing to the Speaker identify as voting on behalf of M. (7) M may authorise P to exercise M’s vote in the Assembly– a. in respect of one or more items of business; b. in respect of one or more sitting days; or c. until further notice. (8) Notice under paragraph (3) must be given to the Speaker’s Office not later than 9:30 am on the sitting day (or as the case may be the first sitting day) on which M intends P to vote on M’s behalf. (9) P shall exercise M’s vote in the Assembly by communicating M’s name to the Lobby Clerks and Tellers and M’s vote shall be included in the numbers counted. 113 Voting - Divisions (1) The temporary provisions of this Standing Order supersede those in Standing Order 27. (2) The Speaker shall first seek to judge whether a Question is carried by collecting voices. (3) In collecting voices under paragraph (2), the Speaker may take account of the number of proxy votes exercised by any Member. (4) Subject to paragraph (5), the Speaker shall direct that the Lobbies be cleared and the Division Bells sounded if– a. the Speaker is unsure whether or not a Question is carried following the collection of voices under paragraph (2); or b. the Speaker’s judgement as to whether a Question is so carried is challenged. (5) Where a Question is put immediately after the result of a previous Division is announced, and paragraph 4(a) or (b) applies– a. the Speaker may direct that the Lobbies be cleared and the Division Bells sounded; or b. the Speaker may direct that the Lobbies be cleared and proceed immediately in accordance with paragraphs (7) to (13) and in deciding whether to direct that the Lobbies be cleared and the Division Bells sounded under this paragraph, the Speaker shall have regard to any representations made by or on behalf of any party Whip. (6) Three minutes after a direction under paragraph (4) or (5)(a), the Speaker shall put the Question again, and if paragraph (4)(a) or (b) still applies, he or she shall proceed as set out below. Otherwise he or she shall judge whether the Question be carried in accordance with paragraph (2). (7) The Speaker shall call for the nomination of two Tellers for each side of the Question but, if within a reasonable time after this call– (a) two Tellers for one side but not the other have been nominated, the determination of the Assembly shall be that of the side which has nominated the two Tellers; (b) two Tellers for each side have not been nominated, the Question shall not be carried. (8) After Tellers have been nominated, the Speaker shall direct the Assembly to divide, “Ayes” to the right and “Noes” to the left, and that the Division Bells be again sounded. (9) Four minutes after this direction, the Speaker shall direct that the doors from the corridors to the Chamber and Lobbies are secured. (10) When all Members in the Lobbies have voted, the Tellers shall bring the Division lists to the Table Clerks who will announce the result. (11) In a Division, a Member– a. is not obliged to vote; b. may vote although he or she did not hear the Question put; and c. may vote by proxy (see Standing Order 112). (12) If the votes in a Division are equal the Question shall not be carried. (13) If any Member is present within the precincts of the Assembly and is disabled by infirmity from passing through a Lobby, his or her name may be communicated by his or her party Whip to the Lobby Clerks and Tellers and may be included in the numbers counted.

114. Financial Acts (1) This Standing Order makes temporary provision equivalent to Standing Order 26(1)(b). (2) A vote, resolution or Act which– a. appropriates a sum out of the Consolidated Fund of Northern Ireland or increases a sum to be appropriated; or b. imposes or increases a tax shall require cross-community support (within the meaning of section 4(5) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998). 115. Temporary provision for Statutory Committees (1) This Standing Order contains temporary provisions relating to Committees established under Standing Order 48, and supersedes paragraphs (3)-(6) of Standing Order 46 and paragraphs (5) and (7) of Standing Order 49. (2) A Committee may meet on any day. (3) Any member(s) of a Committee, including the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson may attend a meeting remotely, for example by video-link or telephone attendance. (4) Decisions taken by a Committee shall be taken by consensus, and in the absence of consensus following a vote. (5) A member of a Committee may vote in person, by video-link or by telephone. (6) A member of a Committee who is for any reason unable to attend in person, or by video-link or telephone may delegate authority to another member of the Committee, including the Chairperson or Deputy Chairperson, to vote on his or her behalf. (7) The minimum number of members required for a decision, whether by consensus or vote (including delegated votes under paragraph (6)) shall be five. (8) A Committee may agree to make decisions (including a decision not to meet) without meeting. (9) This paragraph applies where a Committee has agreed, or proposes to make, a decision without meeting: a. Before a decision is to be taken, the Chairperson must: (i) inform members of the subject matter of the decision; (ii) provide members with such supporting information as the Chairperson considers relevant; (iii) allow a reasonable time for members to consider the subject matter and supporting information; and seek consensus among members on the decision. b. Where– (i) there is no consensus on the decision; or (ii) any member of the Committee requires a vote to be taken on that decision the Committee shall vote on that decision. c. Committee members may communicate their views under sub-paragraph (b)(i), and their votes under sub-paragraph (b)(ii) to the Committee Clerk by telephone, video-link or e-mail. d. A member of a Committee who is for any reason unable to participate in decision-making under this paragraph may delegate authority to another member of the Committee, including the Chairperson or Deputy Chairperson, to act on his or her behalf. e. The minimum number of votes required for a decision shall be five. f. Where the Chairperson is for any reason unable to exercise functions under this paragraph, those functions may be exercised by the Deputy Chairperson, and if the latter is for any reason unable to exercise those functions, they may be exercised by a member of the Committee determined by the Committee. (10) Votes under this Standing Order shall be carried (or negatived) by simple majority. (11) Notice of a delegation of authority under paragraph (6) or (9)(d) shall be given in writing to the Committee Clerk. (12) A general record of the proceedings of a Committee shall be maintained by the Committee Clerk. 116. Temporary provision for Standing Committees (1) This Standing Order contains temporary provisions relating to Committees established under Standing Order 51, and supersedes paragraphs (5) and (6) of Standing Order 52, and that part of Standing Order 58(4) relating to quorum. (2) Standing Order 115 shall apply to Standing Committees as it applies to Statutory Committees, subject that: a. The minimum number of members required for a decision of the Audit Committee, whether by consensus or vote, (including delegated votes under paragraph (6)) shall be two. b. In its application to the Business Committee– (i) A reference to a member of a committee shall include, where appropriate, a substitute member attending in place of a member and a reference to a Deputy Chairperson shall include a nominee of the Speaker; (ii) The quorum shall be five members attending in accordance with Standing Order 115, except when no decision is taken or Question put, when the quorum shall be four; and (iii) Paragraph (10) shall not apply to votes (and Standing Order 55(7) will continue to apply).

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP

The Business Committee has agreed that an hour should be allocated for this debate. Ten minutes will be allowed to move the motion and 10 minutes will be allowed for the Member who is making a winding-up speech. All other Members who are called to speak will have five minutes.

Photo of Thomas Buchanan Thomas Buchanan DUP

On behalf of the Committee on Procedures, I am pleased to bring before the House this motion to amend Standing Orders. On behalf of the Committee, I wish to convey my sincere thanks to the Assembly officials who were involved in drafting these amendments. This was a huge task, given the short period of time that they had to produce the draft Standing Orders. Normally this amount of work would take weeks rather than days, and it is another display of the exemplary support that is provided to the Assembly during these difficult times. I am sure that every Member will agree with that and recognise that.

We are facing far-from-normal times. It is clear that, to allow the Assembly to continue to carry out its business while adhering to public health advice and keeping Members and staff as safe as possible, there is an urgent requirement to make changes to usual Assembly procedures. Therefore, the Committee on Procedures was asked to urgently consider and bring the motion before the House this afternoon.

I will provide some background to the motion. At the beginning of the plenary sitting on Monday 16 March, the Speaker of the House reflected that business as usual could not continue in the Assembly during the current period. Following further conversations with party Whips, the Speaker wrote to MLAs on 18 March, setting out some initial changes. He went on to explain that the Business Committee would give further consideration to future business and that ways in which the Assembly operates might change to accommodate social distancing. Significant changes have already been agreed by the Assembly insofar as temporarily suspending Question Time and private Member's motions not being scheduled. Members have also been asked not to table questions for written answer in the usual manner. Furthermore, the Business Committee recently identified a number of potential issues that may arise during the current circumstances and considered several solutions to them. The agreed way forward informed the proposed Standing Orders 111 to 116, which are set out on the Order Paper today.

(Mr Speaker in the Chair)

In the light of current circumstances in relation to COVID-19, the Chairpersons' Liaison Group met on 24 March to consider a number of proposed changes to Committee procedures. Those changes are designed to allow for the continued operation of Committees when several Committee members may be unavailable or it is not possible for a physical Committee meeting to take place. Both the Business Committee and the Chairpersons' Liaison Group were content to bring draft Standing Orders to the Committee on Procedures for their assessment. At its meeting on Wednesday 25 March, the Committee on Procedures agreed the draft Standing Orders, which subsequently brings us to the debate.

That provides a short background to these amendments, and I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Speaker, the Business Committee and the Chairpersons' Liaison Group for bringing these changes to the Committee on Procedures at such a crucial time.

I will briefly cover what these proposed changes will mean for ongoing Assembly and Committee business. Regarding plenary sessions and Assembly business, it is imperative that Members maintain social distancing at all times during the current period. That includes in the Assembly Chamber and especially during Divisions. Social distancing cannot be maintained should a Division be called. We are all aware that under current Standing Orders, all Members who wish to vote must pass through at least one of the Lobbies in the Chamber. That is extremely problematic in the current circumstances and the situation we find ourselves in. However, the Assembly already has limited provision for proxy voting under Standing Order 27(11), which provides that:

" If any member is present within the precincts of the Assembly and is disabled by infirmity from passing through a lobby, his or her name may be communicated by his or her party whip to the lobby clerks and tellers and may be included in the numbers counted."

Consideration has been given to whether that principle could also be applied in the current circumstances to allow votes to be cast on behalf of Members so they do not have to physically be in the Chamber to go through the Lobbies. Currently, Standing Order 55(7) provides for each party delegation present at the Business Committee:

"to cast a number of votes equivalent to the number of members who adhere to the whip of that party."

The same applies for the collection of smaller parties and independent Members.

The proposed Standing Order 115 provides for a similar model for plenary sittings. Notice must be given in writing to the Speaker where a Member allows their vote to be made by another Member. This should result in a much smaller number of Members being present in the Chamber, and also for fewer Members to pass through the Lobbies.

I will briefly cover the proposed changes to Committee business. The proposed Standing Orders 115 and 116 cover Statutory and Standing Committee business. In relation to Committee quorum, the Chairpersons' Liaison Group agreed that it would remain at five when a decision needs to be taken. However, the proposed new Standing Orders allow for any member of a Committee, including the Chairperson or Deputy Chairperson, to attend a meeting remotely, by either video-link or telephone, and still contribute to quorum. The proposals also allow for a member of a Committee to vote by video-link or telephone. Further to this, the proposed Standing Orders provide for any member who is not able to attend a meeting in person, to delegate authority to another member of the Committee to vote on their behalf.

Finally, regarding decision-making, the proposed Standing Orders provide for a Committee to make decisions without meeting at all, using a procedure whereby the Chairperson could provide members with the detail surrounding the issue, and then gather views and seek consensus from members via correspondence.

During its deliberation of these proposals, members of the Committee on Procedures were generally content. There was some discussion around how proxy voting would work for smaller parties or independent Members who wished to show their opposition to a particular Question in the Chamber. Members also queried whether it would be possible to designate the named person only once, and not before every plenary sitting throughout the current situation, which would, in turn, be much more efficient for the Business Committee.

Discussions were also held around whether there should be more than two named persons when it comes to proxy voting — whether it should be two, three or more.

In concluding its deliberations, the Committee agreed to introduce the new temporary Standing Orders and committed to working with the Speaker in future to facilitate any further measures. Incidentally, the Committee also agreed to write to the Assembly Commission to ask it to explore the facilitation of videoconferencing in all conference rooms. The measures in the motion will apply only until 30 September 2020 and can be reviewed, if necessary, prior to that date. On that basis and on behalf of the Committee on Procedures, I commend the motion to the House.

Photo of Rosemary Barton Rosemary Barton UUP 3:00 pm, 31st March 2020

While the motion on Standing Orders is temporary and applies from 31 March to 30 September, the Ulster Unionist Party has reservations about some of the measures contained in it. Because of the health crisis that we are in, the House has already consented to emergency legislation that undermines democracy and reduces scrutiny. While, indeed, given the present situation with COVID-19 and the reduction in the number of Members permitted in the Chamber, an alternative method of voting must be found for all Members to register their vote, one cannot have voters lining up in the Lobbies and, at the same time, observing social distancing.

With regard to Standing Order 112, on sitting days one would expect that the great majority of Assembly Members would be here in their offices in the Building. Therefore, they should be able to vote without the need for proxies. Were we not all elected to speak and cast our votes for our constituents? The method proposed in Standing Order 112 certainly does not allow for that. Therefore, I suggest that an alternative method for Members to cast their vote in person needs to be further investigated.

Through the Committee on Procedures, the Ulster Unionist Party will proactively seek to amend today's motion. We seek confirmation that the proposals are agile enough to embed improvements and a robust mechanism to protect an individual's mandate vote. Having assessed the voices in the Chamber today, we do not support the motion but will not force a Division.

Photo of Gerry Carroll Gerry Carroll People Before Profit Alliance

We are, obviously, living in unprecedented times in which all the old certainties no longer apply. The health pandemic that surrounds us is the greatest crisis that I and, I am sure, many others have lived through. It has destroyed too many lives, and it threatens to destroy many more. I offer my sympathies and thoughts to everybody who has been affected at this time.

For that reason, it is necessary for the Assembly to give the utmost priority to tackling the pandemic and its far-reaching repercussions. That means scaling back on other areas of work and, at this time, the normal functions of the Chamber. For that reason, many of the proposed changes to Standing Orders are justified in the context that we face. However, it is crucial that we demand the maximum democracy, accountability and scrutiny at this time in order to ensure that the crisis is handled in a way that prioritises the needs of the great majority of people and not the interests of the powerful and the wealthy.

We need a shutdown of society, but we cannot, in any circumstances, allow a shutdown of democracy — quite the contrary. Now is precisely the time to fight for an expansion of democracy in politics and economics, generally speaking, in the interests of ordinary people. The changes to Standing Orders and the functions of the Assembly must recognise that, in order to ensure maximum space for democracy throughout this unprecedented time. <BR/>I recognise that normal procedure cannot resume, in terms of speaking arrangements and other items relating to the Chamber, but should it not be the case that the valuable and important workers in our canteen should be allowed to self-isolate with their pay and terms and conditions protected? Whilst canteens and restaurants rightly close across the country, should we not practise in the House what we are enforcing elsewhere? It dawned on me only today that we should not put workers in this Building or their families at risk.

Already, the rich, the powerful and the wealthy are trying to shape the response to the crisis in their interests. Governments across the world have faced a basic choice throughout the crisis between defending profits or saving lives, and, too often, they have chosen the former. Already, employers are forcing workers into dangerous conditions, risking their lives in order to shore up the profits. Other workers have met with widespread job loses where closures have taken place, and bosses have threatened to stop pension payments for the duration of the crisis. Billionaires continue to lobby Governments for bailouts to the rich. We will see more of that, no doubt, unless there is an urgent shift in how politics functions generally.

People Before Profit thinks that we need to see urgent intervention from the Executive and the Westminster Government to ensure that all workers on the front line are protected with personal protection equipment (PPE). That means health workers but also other front-line services including retail workers and many more. Moreover, government must ensure that no worker loses their job because of the crisis. A decade ago, the Government bailed out their banker friends to the tune of at least £500 billion overnight: now is the time to bail out workers. The state must step in to secure wages for all workers and the self-employed, and we must see an immediate freeze on mortgages, rents and utility bills.

Obviously, some changes to procedures have to take place at this time, but I want to make the case that these points should be aired and heard throughout the crisis and this period.

Finally, I pay tribute to all the front-line service workers who are out there risking their lives for us all: the health workers, the public-sector workers, the retail workers, the cleaners and everybody else. This crisis shows that we need to rely on them, and, despite them previously being described as "unskilled workers", they are very much skilled and essential to the functioning of our society.

Photo of Catherine Kelly Catherine Kelly Sinn Féin

First, I offer my sincere condolences to the families across Ireland who have lost loved ones to COVID-19. My thoughts and prayers are with them at this time.

The motion, which seeks to amend Standing Orders, is unprecedented, but we face unprecedented times. The amendments ensure that MLAs can meet their obligations as political representatives and Assembly Members. They ensure that the Assembly can operate efficiently and effectively, but equally important is the fact that they enable all of us to play our part in thwarting transmission by adhering to social distancing and introducing remote working practices. Finding different ways of working is imperative if we are to delay the spread of this deadly virus.

The motion will enable MLAs to vote by proxy and Committee business to be conducted remotely by video or audio link. That is not just about protecting the lives of MLAs or the people who support their role, although that is important; it is about protecting the lives of others. It is about supporting our health service workers: our doctors and nurses and all the people who support them — the paramedics, administrators, cleaners, drivers and others. It is about supporting all the people providing vital services that support our communities: the shopworkers, warehouse and delivery workers, postal workers and others. It will take a determined effort by everyone to halt the spread of the pandemic by minimising transmission. The measures are temporary with a six-month reconsideration limit. I urge Members to support the motion.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

As no other Members wish to contribute, I call Gary Middleton to make a winding-up speech.

Photo of Gary Middleton Gary Middleton DUP

I welcome the opportunity to conclude today's debate on the motion to amend Standing Orders. First, I thank all the Members who contributed.

As outlined, the motion has come to the House today following requests from the Business Committee and the Chairpersons' Liaison Group to introduce urgent temporary provisions to allow Assembly and Committee business to proceed over the coming weeks and months. As the responsibility for amending Standing Orders lies with the Committee on Procedures, the Committee agreed to consider the matter.

The proposed amendments will make fundamental changes, albeit temporary ones, to the plenary and Committee business of the Assembly. We are all too aware of the current circumstances that we are in, and it is imperative that we, as the Assembly, do all that we can to protect one another, the staff and Building users as well.

As explained by the Deputy Chairperson, the changes will allow for wider proxy voting in the Chamber. That will allow for social distancing in the Lobbies, should a Division be called. For Committee business, the proposals will allow any member of a Committee, including the Chair and Deputy Chair, to attend a meeting remotely by video link or by telephone. They also allow for a member of a Committee to vote by video link or by telephone. The proposals go further, by allowing Committees to make decisions without meeting, using a procedure whereby the Chairperson will provide members with the detail surrounding an issue and then gather views and seek consensus from members via correspondence.

Throughout the debate we heard from a number of Members. The Deputy Chairperson outlined his remarks on behalf of the Committee. Rosemary Barton gave her comments on behalf of the Ulster Unionist Party. She referred to the need for alternatives to be looked at, such as alternative ways for Members to vote. Of course, the difficulty with that is that all of this is under review, and we need to be mindful of that and of the temporary nature of the measures to be put in place. Gerry Carroll talked about the unprecedented times that we are in and the merits of the Assembly looking at measures but demanded maximum accountability and scrutiny. He stressed that there cannot be a shutdown of democracy: I think that we would all agree with that. Catherine Kelly also talked about these being unprecedented times and said that the amendments were needed to ensure that MLAs can meet their obligations as elected representatives but would also enable us all to play our part in tackling the emergency and crisis that we face.

Before I conclude, I reiterate what the Deputy Chairperson said in thanking all the Assembly officials involved in drafting the measures at very short notice. They have worked night and day to bring the provisions to us today, and I thank them for that. I thank everyone for contributing to today's debate, and I commend the motion to the House.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

Before we proceed to the Question, I remind Members that the motion requires cross-community support.

Question put and agreed to. Resolved (with cross-community support):

After Standing Order 109 insert 110. Temporary Provisions (1) Unless the Assembly previously resolves, Standing Orders 110-116 (‘the temporary provisions’) apply in the period from 31 March 2020 - 30 September 2020. (2) A resolution under paragraph (1) shall require cross-community support. 111. Voting – General (1) The temporary provisions of this Standing Order supersede those in Standing Order 26 (and see Standing Order 114). (2) The Speaker, or a Deputy Speaker when in the Chair, shall not be entitled to vote on any decision. (3) A vote shall not be taken on any matter if a quorum is not present. (4) The Speaker shall judge whether a Question is carried or not in accordance with Standing Order 113. (5) Except where paragraph (6) applies, every decision of the Assembly shall be taken by a simple majority. (6) This paragraph applies to any decision where these Standing Orders or any statutory provision requires a decision to be taken with cross-community support or other form of enhanced majority. 112. Voting by Proxy (1) This Standing Order contains temporary provisions for proxy voting. (2) A Member may vote in person or by proxy. (3) A Member who wishes to vote by proxy must give notice in writing to the Speaker. (4) A notice under paragraph (3) must contain– a. the name of the Member who wishes to exercise the proxy vote (M); b. the identity of the Member who will vote on M’s behalf (P) – see paragraph (6); c. confirmation that P is willing to vote on behalf of M; and d. details of the period for which P will vote on behalf of M - see paragraph (7). (5) A notice under paragraph (3) may include confirmation from M that P is authorised to nominate another Member to carry out P’s functions. (6) P shall be– a. the Whip or deputy Whip of the party of which M is a Member; b. another Member; or c. where– (i) M has identified a person under sub-paragraph (a) or (b); (ii) that person is for any reason unable to act for M; and (iii) M has provided confirmation under paragraph 5 such other Member as that person may in writing to the Speaker identify as voting on behalf of M. (7) M may authorise P to exercise M’s vote in the Assembly– a. in respect of one or more items of business; b. in respect of one or more sitting days; or c. until further notice. (8) Notice under paragraph (3) must be given to the Speaker’s Office not later than 9:30 am on the sitting day (or as the case may be the first sitting day) on which M intends P to vote on M’s behalf. (9) P shall exercise M’s vote in the Assembly by communicating M’s name to the Lobby Clerks and Tellers and M’s vote shall be included in the numbers counted. 113 Voting - Divisions (1) The temporary provisions of this Standing Order supersede those in Standing Order 27. (2) The Speaker shall first seek to judge whether a Question is carried by collecting voices. (3) In collecting voices under paragraph (2), the Speaker may take account of the number of proxy votes exercised by any Member. (4) Subject to paragraph (5), the Speaker shall direct that the Lobbies be cleared and the Division Bells sounded if– a. the Speaker is unsure whether or not a Question is carried following the collection of voices under paragraph (2); or b. the Speaker’s judgement as to whether a Question is so carried is challenged. (5) Where a Question is put immediately after the result of a previous Division is announced, and paragraph 4(a) or (b) applies– a. the Speaker may direct that the Lobbies be cleared and the Division Bells sounded; or b. the Speaker may direct that the Lobbies be cleared and proceed immediately in accordance with paragraphs (7) to (13) and in deciding whether to direct that the Lobbies be cleared and the Division Bells sounded under this paragraph, the Speaker shall have regard to any representations made by or on behalf of any party Whip. (6) Three minutes after a direction under paragraph (4) or (5)(a), the Speaker shall put the Question again, and if paragraph (4)(a) or (b) still applies, he or she shall proceed as set out below. Otherwise he or she shall judge whether the Question be carried in accordance with paragraph (2). (7) The Speaker shall call for the nomination of two Tellers for each side of the Question but, if within a reasonable time after this call– (a) two Tellers for one side but not the other have been nominated, the determination of the Assembly shall be that of the side which has nominated the two Tellers; (b) two Tellers for each side have not been nominated, the Question shall not be carried. (8) After Tellers have been nominated, the Speaker shall direct the Assembly to divide, “Ayes” to the right and “Noes” to the left, and that the Division Bells be again sounded. (9) Four minutes after this direction, the Speaker shall direct that the doors from the corridors to the Chamber and Lobbies are secured. (10) When all Members in the Lobbies have voted, the Tellers shall bring the Division lists to the Table Clerks who will announce the result. (11) In a Division, a Member– a. is not obliged to vote; b. may vote although he or she did not hear the Question put; and c. may vote by proxy (see Standing Order 112). (12) If the votes in a Division are equal the Question shall not be carried. (13) If any Member is present within the precincts of the Assembly and is disabled by infirmity from passing through a Lobby, his or her name may be communicated by his or her party Whip to the Lobby Clerks and Tellers and may be included in the numbers counted. 114. Financial Acts (1) This Standing Order makes temporary provision equivalent to Standing Order 26(1)(b). (2) A vote, resolution or Act which– a. appropriates a sum out of the Consolidated Fund of Northern Ireland or increases a sum to be appropriated; or b. imposes or increases a tax shall require cross-community support (within the meaning of section 4(5) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998). 115. Temporary provision for Statutory Committees (1) This Standing Order contains temporary provisions relating to Committees established under Standing Order 48, and supersedes paragraphs (3)-(6) of Standing Order 46 and paragraphs (5) and (7) of Standing Order 49. (2) A Committee may meet on any day. (3) Any member(s) of a Committee, including the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson may attend a meeting remotely, for example by video-link or telephone attendance. (4) Decisions taken by a Committee shall be taken by consensus, and in the absence of consensus following a vote. (5) A member of a Committee may vote in person, by video-link or by telephone. (6) A member of a Committee who is for any reason unable to attend in person, or by video-link or telephone may delegate authority to another member of the Committee, including the Chairperson or Deputy Chairperson, to vote on his or her behalf. (7) The minimum number of members required for a decision, whether by consensus or vote (including delegated votes under paragraph (6)) shall be five. (8) A Committee may agree to make decisions (including a decision not to meet) without meeting. (9) This paragraph applies where a Committee has agreed, or proposes to make, a decision without meeting: a. Before a decision is to be taken, the Chairperson must: (i) inform members of the subject matter of the decision; (ii) provide members with such supporting information as the Chairperson considers relevant; (iii) allow a reasonable time for members to consider the subject matter and supporting information; and seek consensus among members on the decision. b. Where– (i) there is no consensus on the decision; or (ii) any member of the Committee requires a vote to be taken on that decision the Committee shall vote on that decision. c. Committee members may communicate their views under sub-paragraph (b)(i), and their votes under sub-paragraph (b)(ii) to the Committee Clerk by telephone, video-link or e-mail. d. A member of a Committee who is for any reason unable to participate in decision-making under this paragraph may delegate authority to another member of the Committee, including the Chairperson or Deputy Chairperson, to act on his or her behalf. e. The minimum number of votes required for a decision shall be five. f. Where the Chairperson is for any reason unable to exercise functions under this paragraph, those functions may be exercised by the Deputy Chairperson, and if the latter is for any reason unable to exercise those functions, they may be exercised by a member of the Committee determined by the Committee. (10) Votes under this Standing Order shall be carried (or negatived) by simple majority. (11) Notice of a delegation of authority under paragraph (6) or (9)(d) shall be given in writing to the Committee Clerk. (12) A general record of the proceedings of a Committee shall be maintained by the Committee Clerk. 116. Temporary provision for Standing Committees (1) This Standing Order contains temporary provisions relating to Committees established under Standing Order 51, and supersedes paragraphs (5) and (6) of Standing Order 52, and that part of Standing Order 58(4) relating to quorum. (2) Standing Order 115 shall apply to Standing Committees as it applies to Statutory Committees, subject that: a. The minimum number of members required for a decision of the Audit Committee, whether by consensus or vote, (including delegated votes under paragraph (6)) shall be two. b. In its application to the Business Committee– (i) A reference to a member of a committee shall include, where appropriate, a substitute member attending in place of a member and a reference to a Deputy Chairperson shall include a nominee of the Speaker; (ii) The quorum shall be five members attending in accordance with Standing Order 115, except when no decision is taken or Question put, when the quorum shall be four; and (iii) Paragraph (10) shall not apply to votes (and Standing Order 55(7) will continue to apply).

Adjourned at 3.13 pm.