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Summary

  1. First Minister Arlene Foster and Environment Minister Mark H Durkan answered questions from MLAs.
  2. The Assembly passed the consideration stage of the Rural Needs Bill.
  3. Health Minister Simon Hamilton reported back to the Assembly on a recent North South Ministerial Council meeting of health matters.

Live Reporting

By Robin Sheeran and Robert Ainley

All times stated are UK

  1. Good evening

    Deputy speaker John Dallat adjourns the Assembly.

    Join us tomorrow from 10.30 GMT for coverage of another plenary session.

  2. 'Early introduction'

    Winding on the motion, the DUP's William Humphrey welcomes the "measured" and "constructive" tone of the debate.

    Mr Humphrey emphasises the need for children to have an "early introduction to arts and culture" that "should be sustained by the school curriculum at all key stages".

    Concluding, he says "if we are serious about building a united community and a tolerant society, the implementation of the report is essential".

    The motion passes on an oral vote.

  3. 'Committee report very helpful'

    Caral Ni Chuilin

    Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín responds to the debate.

    She says the role of government is to ensure there is "a properly funded and resourced arts and cultural sector".

    Ms Ní Chuilín describes the committee report as "very helpful", dealing as it does with the "vexed question" of participation in working class areas.

    She says the evidence of stakeholders has "added creedence" to the argument that an Executive strategy on the arts should be "taken forward and embedded in future Programmes for Government".

  4. 'Getting people to go along'

    Basil McCrea

    NI21's Basil McCrea contrasts the "excitement" of experiencing the arts with the committee's report and motion "that could make the discovery of life on Mars sound dull".

    He says the biggest problem is "getting people that may not think that arts is for them to go along" because "if they go along, they absolutely enjoy it, they feel it's part of them and they do more".

  5. 'Recognisable careers'

    Leslie Cree

    Ulster Unionist Leslie Cree says the committee had recommended that "professional arts practitioners" should go into communities "to engage directly with groups and individuals" and this must be funded "over a reasonable period to allow it to be embedded".

    He also says it is necessary to provide "recognisable careers" in the arts to encourage the growth of the sector.

    Anna Lo of Alliance welcomes the idea of an Executive arts strategy, but says she has reservations over the potential difficulties of securing the "buy-in from different departments". She says it is "essential that this strategy does not duplicate existing strategy" and adds there should be clear measures for evaluating its success.

  6. Executive arts and culture strategy

    Sinn Féin's Rosie McCorley says she would like to see the introduction of a "comprehensive and co-ordinated" Executive arts and culture strategy as well as greater provision of musical instruments "for all genres of music".

    Karen McKevitt of the SDLP talks about the importance of using public buildings, such as schools, museums and libraries to encourage wider participation in the arts.

  7. Inclusion in the arts

    Nelson McCausland

    Nelson McCausland of the DUP chairs the Culture Committee.

    He introduces a motion seeking approval of a committee report on inclusion in the arts of working class communities.

    Mr McCausland says it can be difficult to gauge participation when many events are not ticketed.

    As such, the chairman says the inquiry has a greater focus on what cultural venues are doing to encourage involvement.

    Speaking as a DUP MLA, he says the party was "disappointed" by the end of a scheme funding musical instruments, which he says is "a wrong decision, a retrograde step and totally unjustified".

  8. Motion passes

    Gerard Diver of the SDLP says that given Mr Bain's belief that an acting commissioner should be appointed "it's only right we proceed along these lines".

    The motion passes on an oral vote.

  9. Acting Commissioner

    Paul Givan

    The DUP's Paul Givan, who chairs the Standards and Privileges Committee, introduces a motion seeking approval for the appointment of an acting Assembly Commissioner.

    The current commissioner, Douglas Bain, has said he is unable to act on a complaint made by Sammy Wilson MP, in light of a past dispute.

    Mr Bain wishes to recuse himself from the role, temporarily, as he "could be perceived to be biased" and "to retain the integrity of the process".

    Gerard Elias QC has been proposed to adjudicate on the complaint.

  10. The motion passes.

    The house divided and the motion passes by 60 votes to 34.

  11. 'Over £50m of investment'

    Jonathan Bell replies to the debate.

    He says "the RHI scheme has already resulted  in bringing over £50m of investment into Northern Ireland".

    The minister says that "we now face a significant pressure going forward because Treasury will no longer fund the entire RHI".

  12. 'Brush it under the carpet'

    Jim Allister

    "What a shambles," says Jim Allister of the TUV.

    He predicts that the DUP and Sinn Féin will attempt to "brush it under the carpet".

    Green Party MLA Steven Agnew says the Executive has "played fast and loose" with the only industry that grew during the recession.

    "We will be the only part of the UK not to have a renewable heat scheme," he says.

  13. 'The hole in the economy'

    Máirtín Ó Muilleoir

    Máirtín Ó Muilleoir of Sinn Féin says he rises "with a heavy heart" as whichever way MLAs vote someone will lose out.

    "If we don't take a decision today then the hole in the economy gets bigger," he says.

    The SDLP's  Fearghal McKinney shares other members' concerns about possible job losses, and he asks "what drivers there will now be" towards meeting renewables targets.

  14. 'Consider your position'

    Adrian Cochrane-Watson

    Ulster Unionist Adrian Cochrane-Watson says the committee had witnessed an example of "failure, incompetence and ignorance".

    He says his party will not support the statutory rule.

    "Will you, minister, do the decent thing and consider your position?" he asks.

    Trevor Lunn of Alliance says it appears that "somebody here has been asleep at the wheel".

  15. 'Hobson's choice'

    Gordon Dunne

    The DUP's Gordon Dunne says "the success of these schemes has resulted in the budget being exceeded".

    He says there have been "genuine concerns within the renewable sector".

    Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy concurs with the chairman, saying the committee has been "bounced" on the minister's decision, and that the scheme has been "very,very badly handled".

    He says the Assembly has now been presented with "a Hobson's choice" on the way forward.

  16. 'An unmitigated mess'

    Continuing his criticism of the handling of the renewable heat scheme, Mr McGlone says "many feel let down, deeply let down".

    He says businesses believe "this is a matter of honour".

    "It really is an unmitigated mess," he concludes.

  17. 'Without proper scrutiny'

    Patsy McGlone

    The SDLP's Patsy McGlone chairs the Enterprise Committee.

    He says its members were only given notice of the intention to close the scheme at last week's meeting.

    Mr McGlone said he therefore has to speak "without proper scrutiny of the proposals" as set down in standing orders

    "The committee has received considerable correspondence for m industry representatives," he says.

    Mr McGlone quotes one company as saying it would lose £1m amd 25 jobs if the scheme closed.

  18. 'An open-ended commitment'

    Jonathan Bell

    Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell begins the debate on the Draft Renewable Heat Incentive Schemes.

    He explains that he wants to suspend the renewable heat schemes for domestic and non-domestic users.

    Mr Bell says he has listened to concerns about the time allowed for people to complete their installations.

    "I have decided to defer closure for a further two weeks," he says.

    The minister says that members who vote against the measure are voting for "an open-ended funding commitment".

  19. Bill passes

    The Legal Complaints and Regulation Bill passes on an oral vote and will now go to receive royal assent.

  20. 'Copper-bottoming'

    Sinn Féin's Daithí McKay chairs Stormont's Finance Committee.

    He says the "copper-bottoming" of the legal complaints process was necessary but changes, including the sanctions regime, must not overburden legal practitioners.

    Ian McCrea of the DUP, speaking in support of the bill, refers to comments made at an earlier stage by the SDLP's Alban Maginness that it is "a local bill, a local tailor-made solution to dealing with legal complaints in Northern Ireland".

    Ulster Unionist Leslie Cree also speaks in support of the bill.