Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Amendment No. 10) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 — Executive Committee (Functions) Bill: Consideration Stage

Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 11:30 am on 21st July 2020.

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Resolved:

That the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Amendment No. 10) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 be approved. — [Mr Kearney (Junior Minister, The Executive Office).]

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

I call the junior Minister Mr Declan Kearney to move the Consideration Stage of the Executive Committee (Functions) Bill.

Moved. — [Mr Kearney (Junior Minister, the Executive Office).]

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

Mr Beattie.

Photo of Doug Beattie Doug Beattie UUP

Sorry for the late notice on this, but it is important because it will help to make decisions. I hope that the junior Minister can answer this question. Paragraphs 8 and 9 at clause 1(4) include the term "a Minister". Can the junior Minister confirm that, where it says "a Minister", it refers only to the Minister for Infrastructure and does not extend to any Minister in the Executive?

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

Mr Kearney, will you reply to that question?

Photo of Declan Kearney Declan Kearney Sinn Féin

Thank you, Mr Temporary Speaker. It is necessary to clarify the circumstances in which a Minister is required to refer a matter to the Executive, where that matter may be cross-cutting, significant or controversial. However, I must add that that does not affect the integrity of the planning process or the nature or quality of the decisions that would be taken under it. It is about who takes the decisions.

In response to the Member's point, clause 1(4) inserts a new provision at section 20(7) of the NI Act. That permits:

"the Department for Infrastructure or the Minister in charge of that Department" to take certain decisions under the Planning Act:

"without recourse to the Executive Committee."

However, there is a caveat to be entered under clause 1(8), which qualifies section 20(3) of the Act in respect of cross-cutting matters to provide that a Minister is not required to have recourse to the Executive Committee unless a matter affects the exercise of one or more other Ministers "more than incidentally". I hope that that provides some clarification to the Member.

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

Is Mr Beattie content with that explanation?

Photo of Doug Beattie Doug Beattie UUP

I thank the junior Minister for —.

Photo of John O'Dowd John O'Dowd Sinn Féin

On a point of order, Mr Temporary Speaker. Will the Temporary Speaker clarify what is happening? Is it a debate? Is it a statement? I am not sure what process I am involved in at the moment.

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

Mr Beattie indicated in a point of order that he had concerns about the procedures. Mr Kearney has given a very full and detailed response to the point. I understand that Mr Beattie is content with that explanation. That being the case, can we move on?

Mr Kearney has formally moved the motion. There are no amendments tabled to the Bill. The Questions on stand part will be put on each clause, followed by the Question on the long title.

Clause 1 (Amendment of section 20 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998)

Question put, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Some Members:

Aye.

Some Members:

No.

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

I think that the Ayes have it.

Some Members:

No.

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

The Question will be put again in three minutes. I remind Members that we should continue to uphold the social-distancing measures and that Members who have proxy voting arrangements in place should not come into the Chamber.

Before I put the Question again, I remind Members that, if possible, it would be preferable to avoid a Division.

Question put a second time.

Some Members:

Aye.

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

The Ayes have it.

Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 3 (Short title)

Question put, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Some Members:

Aye.

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

I think that the Ayes have it. Mr Carroll, do you accept that? Yes. The Ayes have it.

Clause 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Long Title

Question put, That the long title be agreed.

Some Members:

Aye.

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

I think that the Ayes have it.

Long title agreed to.

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

That concludes the Consideration Stage of the Executive Committee (Functions) Bill. The Bill now stands referred to the Speaker. I remind Members that the deadline for tabling amendments for Further Consideration Stage is 9:30 am tomorrow.