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Summary

  1. MLAs debated a series of motions on the Draft Proceeds of Crime Order, dealing with powers of search and seizure in criminal cases.
  2. A bill that would reduce the number of MLAs from 108 to 90 passed its further consideration stage in the house.
  3. Finance Minister Mervyn Storey and Health Minister Simon Hamilton answered MLAs' questions.
  4. MLAs passed the consideration stage of the Mental Capacity Bill.
  5. Independent MLA John McCallister's private member's bill was debated.

Live Reporting

By Robin Sheeran and Robert Ainley

All times stated are UK

  1. That's all for today

    Stormont Live is closing for today.

    Join us tomorrow morning at 10:00 GMT for live coverage of the Education Committee.

  2. 'Making accountability accessible'

    Independent MLA Claire Sugden says her amendment, tabled jointly with Steven Agnew, is about making accountability "more accessible to the general public".

    "We don't think it's a realistic opportunity for the general public to take ministers to court through judicial review for costs and all the complications that go with that," she says.

    Ms Sugden says introducing sanctions could "deter corrupt ministers who want to go about business the wrong way".

  3. 'Ill-served'

    Steven Agnew

    Green MLA Steven Agnew says an amendment he is bringing with independent MLA Claire Sugden would deal with "an anomaly" that there is no clear procedure for disciplining ministers.

    He says the current system "ill serves" both the public and ministers.

    Allegations of breaches of the ministerial code have been "left to the court of public opinion and trial by media", Mr Agnew adds.

    While his amendment does not set out how a disciplinary mechanism would work, he says "it's about agreeing principles".

  4. 'Fortitude'

    Trevor Lunn

    Alliance's Trevor Lunn congratulates John McCallister on his "fortitude" in getting the bill this far.

    He says he will support a "transfer of responsibilities" amendment that would allow MLAs to vote, on a cross-community basis, to ask the Secretary of State to bring forward legislation on matters where agreement could not be reached.

    Sinn Féin's Caitríona Ruane makes a brief contribution to the debate, saying her party will vote against all the amendments.

  5. 'Contention and turbulence'

    The SDLP's Alex Attwood speaks on his party's amendment that would establish a "welfare reform and measures committee".

    He says the history of the last few years proves "we should try to build into the architecture of devolution a better mechanism to better handle the welfare issue" because of the "contention and turbulence" around reforms to the benefits system.

    Danny Kennedy of the UUP says his party supports the idea of an opposition as they believe the chance for voters to change their government could be a "transformation way to change engagement with the wider electorate" and encourage "a more dynamic democracy in this house".

  6. 'Changes to electoral support base'

    Pat Sheehan

    Sinn Féin's Pat Sheehan, deputy chairman of the Executive Review Committee says the committee does not support John McCallister's proposed eight percent threshold for opposition membership.

    He says MLAs took into account the evidence of Prof John Coakley who told them they need to be "mindful of changes in the electoral support base with the proposed reduction in membership from 2021".

    The DUP's Paula Bradley says she supports Mr McCallister's threshold, but will not support an SDLP amendment that would create a standing committee on welfare reform.

  7. Opposition Bill

    John McCallister

    Independent MLA John McCallister begins the further consideration stage of his private member's legislation - the Assembly and Executive Reform (Assembly Opposition) Bill.

    He says a threshold requiring a party to have eight percent of Assembly seats to be part of the opposition would "strike a balance" between having an opposition "of a reasonable size", but "not setting the bar so high you have to meet the d'Hondt level".

    Mr McCallister says he hopes the amendments in his name will be agreed as they will help the Assembly "move in the direction of political maturity and improve the delivery and accountability".

  8. Bill progresses

    After a marathon debate, the Mental Capacity Bill completes its consideration stage.

  9. Patient transfers with the Republic

    Patsy McGlone

    Patsy McGlone of the SDLP says the Southern Health Trust and the Western Trust have jurisdictional borders with the Republic.

    He says the bill "represented the opportune time to agree procedures for transfer of persons who are either detained or deprived of their liberty under the law in either jurisdiction".

    The minister thanks all those involved in getting the bill to his stage.

  10. Fifth group of amendments

    Simon Hamilton

    Health Minister Simon Hamilton opens the debate on the fifth group of amendments.

    This includes amendments regarding the transfer of patients to other jurisdictions within the UK for reasons of treatment.

    He gives the example of patients transferred to the State Hospital, Carstairs, in Scotland.

    The DUP's Alastair Ross also comments on the amendments.

  11. The sitting resumes

    The sitting resumes, and voting begins on the fourth group of amendments.

  12. Sitting suspended

    Deputy Speaker John Dallat suspends the Assembly so that the members can get something to eat before resuming this lengthy sitting.

  13. Committee amendments

    Committee chairman Alastair Ross addresses amendments regarding public protection orders and other amendments brought by the minister.

    He then outlines the committee's amendments.

    He says members shared the concerns of stakeholder witnesses that police stations "should be the exception rather than the norm" for use as a place of safety for children.

  14. Harm

    Minister Simon Hamilton introduces a series of amendments relating to criminal justice matters.

    Among the provisions is a "public protection order" - a power for the PSNI to remove a person from a public place to a place of safety "to prevent serious physical or psychological harm to that person".

    A further set of amendments provide for a definition of the term "harm".

    Mr Hamilton says he also wishes to "close a lacuna" in the law that prevents the application of a restraining order when a person is judged to be "unfit to plead".

  15. Votes

    MLAs are voting on whether to include amendments in this group in the bill.

    After several divisions, a long list of amendments is agreed on oral votes.

  16. 'Confusion?'

    Patsy McGlone

    Patsy McGlone of the SDLP and Jo-Anne Dobson also speak in support of this group of amendments.

    Minister Hamilton responds to the debate.

    He questions the committee's recommendation that the EPA and LPA systems should run in tandem, saying it could lead to confusion.

    While a solicitor should be able to explain the difference between the two options, "If one were more expensive, there may be a propensity for people to go for the cheaper one, even if it may not be appropriate for them," he says.

  17. 'Risk assessment'

    Raymond McCartney of Sinn Féin addresses an amendment that would introduce a "risk assessment" where an individual convicted of fraud is given powers of attorney.

    "We're not saying it should be automatic because we don't believe in debarring someone simply because of a conviction," he says, "but if the fraud is directly related to the person concerned then there should be some assessment".

  18. Power of attorney

    Alastair Ross

    Alastair Ross, chairman of the ad hoc committee examining the bill, says the "key issue" where it diverged from the department was over power of attorney.

    This is a way of giving someone you trust the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf if you lack mental capacity at some time in the future, or no longer wish to make decisions for yourself  

    Mr Ross says a range of groups, including the Law Society, had advised them that the lasting power of attorney (LPA) system requires "lengthy forms" and can be expensive and had deterred people using that option.

    The committee recommended the use of a more straight forward system of enduring power of attorney (EPA) in parallel.