Lord John Alderdice: Welcome to the first meeting of the New Northern Ireland Assembly.
Lord John Alderdice: I will begin the proceedings by drawing attention to a number of formal statements. First, in respect of my own position, I received from the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland a letter of appointment dated 29 June. The relevant paragraph reads as follows: "In accordance with paragraph 3(1) of the Schedule to the Northern Ireland (Elections) Act 1998, I hereby appoint you as the...
Lord John Alderdice: I have received no approaches on that matter, but if I am still in a position to do so I shall consider any proposal as constructively as I can.
Lord John Alderdice: How independent Members choose to conduct themselves is a business matter, and there are various models. However, perhaps it is a little early for us to be dealing with this question.
Lord John Alderdice: I now invite Members to take their seats by signing the Roll of Membership. This may be a time-consuming procedure, but it is important for practical reasons. To avoid any confusion I shall ask the party groups, in alphabetical order, to come forward and sign one of the two registers, after which there will be a short suspension so that I may verify the designation — Unionist, Nationalist...
Lord John Alderdice: All the names and designations on the Roll of Membership have been checked, and some changes have been made. I am satisfied that those Members who have signed the Roll may be regarded as having taken their seats, their designations being now clear.
Lord John Alderdice: They have changed their designation to "Inclusive other", the words "Unionist" and "Nationalist" having been deleted.
Lord John Alderdice: I have taken legal advice on a number of issues, including this one because the designations must be very clear and I have to be satisfied about them. The precise wording can be flexible, but the designation must be absolutely clear. The officials and I have checked through this, and with regard to the Women’s Coalition and the Alliance Party I am very clear that the only possible...
Lord John Alderdice: The next item on the Order Paper is the election of a Presiding Officer. Are there any proposals? There being no proposals, and the time for proposals having expired, I shall remain in office in accordance with Standing Order 13(5). The next item on the Order Paper is the election of a Deputy Initial Presiding Officer.
Lord John Alderdice: In the Adjournment debate Members will be free to raise any issue that they choose, though I imagine that many may wish to talk about the matter to which you refer. I have decided that each of the parties will have 10 minutes during which one person may speak. That may be the Leader or the nominee of the Leader. I have received other requests that one of the three independent Unionist Members...
Lord John Alderdice: That is a difficult issue. The Standing Orders were intended to deal only with the first meeting and largely with formal business. This obviously goes beyond formal business. If I call only people nominated by parties, three elected representatives here will have no opportunity to speak, no matter how relevant their ideas. Of course, other representatives from the vicinity will have an...
Lord John Alderdice: With regard to the election of the First Minister (Designate) and the Deputy First Minister (Designate), are there any proposals?
Lord John Alderdice: Is there a Member to second the motion?
Lord John Alderdice: I call on the Rt Hon David Trimble, the nominee for First Minister of this Assembly, to make a statement indicating his acceptance of the nomination.
Lord John Alderdice: I call on Mr Seamus Mallon, the nominee for Deputy First Minister of this Assembly, to make a statement indicating that the nomination is accepted.
Lord John Alderdice: Are there any further proposals?
Lord John Alderdice: Are there any further proposals? The time for proposals has expired, and two Members have indicated that they wish to speak. Anyone else who wants to take part should indicate his or her intention clearly. The first Member on my list is Mr Adams.
Lord John Alderdice: Let us have order for the Member speaking.
Lord John Alderdice: May I have order and due respect in the Chamber, please.
Lord John Alderdice: I hesitate to rule robustly on such issues at this juncture, but let me be clear about the time allocated to each Member — 10 minutes.