Page 3272 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 17 September 2013
contrary to the well-established practice based on House of Representatives practice and outlined at page 709 of House of Representatives Practice that a committee consider a motion that the report be adopted, no such motion appears to have been considered or resolved in this case.
The resolution of appointment for standing committees which was passed by the Assembly on 27 November 2012 authorised the planning committee when inquiring into draft variations to, where it had completed consideration of a report, send that report to the Speaker or the Acting Speaker when the Assembly was not sitting. From my examination of the minutes and from my knowledge of committee practice, it is my view that there is a real question as to whether the committee had completed its consideration of the report when it was sent to the Acting Speaker.
Section 74(2)(a) of the Planning and Development Act 2007 requires the minister not to take action “until the committee of the Legislative Assembly has reported on the variation”. Because of this, it is important that the Assembly ensures that the committee has agreed to the report.
As the Speaker, I have limited powers in relation to the operation of committees, and this is clearly outlined in House of Representatives Practice at page 262. However, the Assembly as a whole may wish to ask the committee to clarify whether the report presented today has been agreed to by the committee. If the Assembly believes there is some doubt, one option would be for a member to move that the matter be referred back to the committee and ask the committee to consider a motion that the report be adopted. However, if there is no doubt, the Assembly could simply consider the report in the normal way.
Mr Smyth: Thank you for your determination, Speaker. On behalf of the Assembly I am happy to ask Mr Gentleman as chair of that committee whether the question was put to the committee that the report as amended be agreed to and give Mr Gentleman leave to answer that question.
MADAM SPEAKER: Sorry, there is no scope for that. We are not in question time.
Mr Smyth: Yes, sure. I am happy to seek leave.
MADAM SPEAKER: Sorry, no. Question time is over, and because the report is tabled, it is no longer a subject on which Mr Gentleman can be asked a question. I have suggested—
Mr Smyth: He is still the chair.
MADAM SPEAKER: He is still the chair, but the report is possibly completed—I do not know. As a result of consultation and discussions I have had with the Clerk, I have suggested a way forward—that is, somebody might like to move a motion that the matter be referred back to the committee and that the committee be asked to consider the motion that the report be adopted.