In light of the public health situation, Parliament Buildings is closed to the public. No public tours, events or visitor activities will take place, until further notice. 

However, Assembly business continues. Check the business diary for Plenary and Committee meetings.

Plenary Terms

the end of a sitting day a Member may raise a matter for debate. These are normally constituency issues raised by back-benchers. Unlike a motion, there is no vote by the Assembly on an Adjournment Debate but the relevant Minister (if the issue falls under the Minister’s remit) attends the debate and responds. Adjournment debate topics are agreed in advance by the Business Committee using a rota system based on party strengths.

Under Standing Order 11 the Speaker may summon the Assembly to meet at an earlier date than that to which it stands adjourned (for example during a period when the Assembly is in recess). This can only be triggered by a notice either from the First Minister and deputy First Minister or from a notice signed by not less than 30 Members. If recalled the Assembly deals only with the specific matters referred to in the notice.

Under Standing Order 24 a Member may seek permission of the Speaker to raise in the Assembly an issue which occurred since the previous sitting. The issue must be one of significant public interest and affect directly the people of Northern Ireland. Examples are the death of a public figure, a violent incident such as a life-threatening attack on a police officer, a civic emergency, or an event which results in major loss of life.

Under Standing Order 24 a Member may seek permission of the Speaker to raise in the Assembly an issue which occurred since the previous sitting. The issue must be one of significant public interest and affect directly the people of Northern Ireland. Examples are the death of a public figure, a violent incident such as a life-threatening attack on a police officer, a civic emergency, or an event which results in major loss of life.

If the Speaker agrees to the matter being raised it is normally taken at the start of the sitting. After the Member has spoken, a Member representing each of the other parties has an opportunity to speak briefly on the issue. Where the matter relates to a specific constituency the Speaker may call Members from that constituency to speak. There is no Ministerial response to a Matter of the Day and no opportunity for questions and the Assembly does not vote on the matter.

This is a notice signed by at least 30 members and presented to the Speaker signifying concern about any forthcoming matter on which the Assembly is due to vote. The effects of a petition of concern are (a) that the vote on the matter may not be held until at least the day after the petition has been presented and (b) the vote will be on a cross-community basis, rather than simple majority.

If a Member wishes to present a public petition to the Assembly the proposal is considered by the Business Committee which decides whether and when it shall be taken. In practice the Member will make some brief introductory remarks about the content of the petition and the number of signatories before formally presenting it to the Speaker. The Speaker then arranges for the petition to be sent to the relevant Minister and copied to the Chairperson of the relevant statutory committee. The Minister will normally respond to Members or to the Speaker at some stage thereafter outlining what action is being taken on the issue.

Under Standing Order 32 a Member may table an amendment, stating a reason why the Assembly should not agree to a motion on the Second Stage of primary legislation (a Bill). If the reasoned amendment is agreed on a vote by the Assembly the Bill is rejected.

Under Standing Order 29 a notice signed by at least 30 Members may be presented to the Speaker asking that a Ministerial decision should be referred to the Executive Committee. After confirming that the notice meets certain time limits and after consultation with political parties, the Speaker considers whether the decision relates to a matter of public importance. If it does then the Minister’s decision is referred to the Executive Committee. When the Executive Committee has considered the issue and notified its decision the Speaker announces the outcome to the Assembly.

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