Standing Order 42(1) - Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) Bill: Suspension

Private Members' Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 4:00 pm on 22nd March 2022.

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Photo of Clare Bailey Clare Bailey Green 4:00 pm, 22nd March 2022

I beg to move

That Standing Order 42(1) be suspended in respect of the Final Stage of the Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) Bill [NIA 35/17-22].

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

The Business Committee has agreed that there should be no time limit on the debate.

Photo of Clare Bailey Clare Bailey Green

The motion to suspend Standing Order 42(1) is purely to do with the scheduling that has been agreed by all party Whips at the Business Committee to allow Bills to complete their passage within the time remaining in the mandate.

I have been working on this Bill since I was first elected to the House in 2016. Now, in the last week of the mandate, I ask that Standing Order 42(1) be suspended to allow the Bill's Final Stage to take place one day early. I hope that Members will support that request, as they have every other such request to date.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

No other Members have indicated that they wish to speak. Before we proceed to the Question, I remind Members that the motion requires cross-community support.

Question put.

Some Members:

Aye.

Some Members:

No.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

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.

Some Members:

No.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

I remind Members that only those who are entitled to vote should come to the Chamber. I also remind Members that, as per Standing Order 112, proxy voting arrangements are in place. Members who have authorised another Member to vote on their behalf are not entitled to vote in person or to enter the Lobbies. I ask that Members maintain social distancing during the vote.

The Assembly divided:

<SPAN STYLE="font-style:italic;"> Ayes 59; Noes 29

AYES

NATIONALIST:

Dr Archibald, Mr Boylan, Ms S Bradley, Ms Brogan, Mr Catney, Mr Delargy, Ms Dillon, Ms Dolan, Mr Durkan, Ms Ennis, Ms Ferguson, Ms Flynn, Mr Gildernew, Ms Hargey, Ms Hunter, Mr Kearney, Mrs D Kelly, Mr G Kelly, Ms Kimmins, Mr McAleer, Mr McCrossan, Mr McGlone, Mr McGrath, Mr McGuigan, Mr McHugh, Ms McLaughlin, Mr McNulty, Ms Mallon, Ms Á Murphy, Mr C Murphy, Ms Ní Chuilín, Mr O'Dowd, Mrs O'Neill, Mr O'Toole, Miss Reilly, Ms Rogan, Mr Sheehan, Ms Sheerin

UNIONIST:

Dr Aiken, Mr Allen, Mrs Barton, Mr Beattie, Mr Butler, Mr Chambers, Mr Nesbitt, Mr Stewart, Ms Sugden, Mr Swann

OTHER:

Ms Armstrong, Ms Bailey, Mr Blair, Ms Bradshaw, Mr Carroll, Mr Dickson, Mrs Long, Mr Lunn, Mr Lyttle, Mr Muir, Miss Woods

Tellers for the Ayes: Ms McLaughlin, Miss Woods

NOES

UNIONIST:

Mr Allister, Mr M Bradley, Ms P Bradley, Mr K Buchanan, Mr T Buchanan, Mr Buckley, Ms Bunting, Mrs Cameron, Mr Clarke, Mrs Dodds, Mr Dunne, Mr Easton, Mrs Erskine, Mr Frew, Mr Givan, Mr Harvey, Mr Hilditch, Mr Humphrey, Mr Irwin, Mr Lyons, Miss McIlveen, Mr Middleton, Mr Newton, Mr Poots, Mr Rankin, Mr Robinson, Mr Storey, Mr Weir, Mr Wells

Tellers for the Noes: Mr Allister, Mr Harvey

<TR><TD>Total Votes
88Total Ayes59[67.0%]
Nationalist Votes38Nationalist Ayes38[100.0%]
Unionist Votes39Unionist Ayes10[25.6%]
Other Votes11Other Ayes11[100.0%]
<BR/>

Question accordingly negatived (cross-community vote).

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

On a point of order —

Photo of Clare Bailey Clare Bailey Green

On a point of order —

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

As cross-community support to suspend Standing Order 42(1) for the Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) Bill has not been granted, the Final Stage of the Bill cannot proceed today.

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. In November 1982, I made my maiden speech in the Chamber, and, here we are, 40 years later, and I am making my last speech in the Chamber as a DUP MLA. I was the last person in the Public Gallery when the Assembly collapsed in 1976. I was the last person to speak in the Assembly before it collapsed in 1986. I was the last person in the Building before it burned down in 1995, and I was the last person to speak in one of the debates when the Assembly collapsed in the 2000s. When I was making that point in the Assembly one day, Danny Kennedy stood up and asked, "Could the honourable Member reassure me that he was not the last passenger on the Titanic?", because, every time I speak last, this place seems to be doomed.

Mr Deputy Speaker, I thank you for your indulgence and for your patience with me over many years. Unfortunately, Mr McGlone has just left the Chamber; I was about to thank him. I have enjoyed my 27 and a half years in this Building. It will be a very difficult transition for me to move on to other things, but I am grateful that you have allowed me to make a totally bogus point of order just to record my appreciation for your support.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

As the Member — a former Deputy Speaker — is aware, that is clearly not a point of order. I am pleased that the Assembly is to meet on Thursday and that this is not the final sitting of the Northern Ireland Assembly in this mandate. Anyway, the Member has put his views on the record.

Photo of Clare Bailey Clare Bailey Green

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am glad to speak just to prove Mr Wells wrong: he will not be the last Member to speak in the House. Therefore, there is hope that we are not doomed just yet.

It is extremely disappointing that Members saw fit to vote the previous motion down, because the Business Committee and every party Whip supported the suspension of Standing Order 42(1). They agreed among themselves that they would allow that to be suspended to let business happen in the Chamber, so I want to put this on record: shame on those who agreed to support that and chose this as the one and only Bill that they would vote down. I will see you on Thursday. Scundered for you.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

The scheduling of business is a matter for the Business Committee, and I have been advised that, should the Bill's Final Stage be added to the Order Paper for Thursday's sitting, it would be unnecessary to suspend Standing Order 42(1), as suspending that Standing Order overrules the requirement that there must be five working days between the Further Consideration Stage and Final Stage of a Bill. That will be a matter for the Business Committee.

Adjourned at 4.27 pm.