“I will not allow any other Member of the House to try to put words in my mouth.”

When he’s not facing direct challenges to the authority of the Chair, the Northern Ireland Assembly Speaker, the DUP’s William Hay, is having his opinion on points of order inaccurately presented to the NI Assembly before he has actually ruled on them. In this case by the DUP’s Ian Paisley Jnr. As the Belfast Telegraph reports.

“I wish to make it clear that those remarks were inaccurate. I take a very dim view of Mr Paisley Jnr’s action,” [The Speaker] said. Mr Hay said he encouraged members to come and see him on points of order, and regarded such talks as confidential. Saying he would respond on the unparliamentary language issue in his own time, he said: “I will not allow any other member of the House to try to put words in my mouth.” The Speaker later told MLAs: “I have spoken to the member concerned in private and the member has apologised to me.”

From Hansard, here’s the initial exchange on Tuesday starting with a point of order from Ian Paisley Jnr

Mr Paisley Jnr: On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I met with the Speaker this morning and have made him aware that I intend to raise this point of order. Yesterday, in the Chamber, one Member accused another of being, in effect, a liar when he used the unparliamentary term “seriously misleading to the Assembly.” — [Official Report, Vol 42, No 5, p234, col 1 (Added Theyworkforyou link)]. I have asked the Speaker to examine the record, given his ruling of 19 November 2007 in which he ruled that the term “misleading the Assembly” or “misleading the House” is unparliamentary language, and I have asked that that language be withdrawn by Mr Declan O’Loan, the Member who made the statement about me.

I have also asked the Speaker whether he can bring a ruling expeditiously to the House regarding the use of other unparliamentary language. I was accused yesterday of unparliamentary language in my use of the words “cheapest”, “lowest”, “dirtiest”, “meanest”, “nastiest” and “cheapest possible”. This morning, I received a verbal assurance from the Speaker that my use of that terminology about Mr O’Loan was, in his words, perfectly correct and used in the proper context of parliamentary cut and thrust of debate. It is important that that is put on the record.

Mr Deputy Speaker: Thank you, Mr Paisley Jnr, for your point of order. The Speaker is, of course, considering your complaint and will report at a later date.

Mr O’Loan: On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Yesterday, I raised a point of order and brought matters to the Speaker’s attention. The Speaker said that he was considering those matters. He has yet to report back to the Assembly. Is it in order for another Member to report at second hand what he says is the view of the Speaker in relation to those matters? It does not seem to me to be in order.

Mr Deputy Speaker: Mr O’Loan, I am in no position to comment on that. I am aware that the Speaker is considering the points that were made to him and will report at a later date.

Mr Attwood: Further to that point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The point that my colleague Mr O’Loan made is a valid one. There is a fundamental issue about whether Members have the right to reflect to the Assembly what they say the Speaker has or has not said, based on private conversations with him outside the Chamber. That is a fundamental issue regarding the privacy of conversations that the Speaker has with Members; the accuracy of what Members then report as the Speaker’s views; and whether the House will end up being a gossip Chamber that relies on hearsay to give the Speaker’s views to the wider public.

Mr Deputy Speaker: Thank you, Mr Attwood, for that point of order. As I have said already, the Speaker is considering the issues at hand, and no doubt he will take a strong view on the points that you have raised. I am taking no more points of order on the issue.

And the Speaker, William Hay, in the Chair later in the session

Mr Speaker: Before we proceed to Question Time, I will address a few issues that were raised in the House this morning. A number of Members raised points of order at the start of today’s sitting. In all but one case, I will consider them and respond appropriately in due course.

However, I wish to respond immediately to comments that were made by Ian Paisley Jnr in the House this morning. He said that he met me in my office this morning to discuss a point of order that was raised by Mr O’Loan yesterday. In that regard, Mr Paisley Jnr’s remarks were certainly accurate. However, he went on to make remarks that he attributed to me. I wish to make it clear that those remarks were inaccurate. I take a very dim view of Mr Paisley Jnr’s action.

Mr McCartney: Will he go to jail?

Mr Speaker: Order. Members will know that I encourage them to meet me in order to discuss matters that are raised under points of order. I rightly consider such discussions private and confidential, and expect Members to do likewise. Members will know that I operate an open-door policy and that I do not stand on ceremony. If Members want to see me when I am in the office or in the Building, they can do so. I am always willing and able to meet Members to try to resolve any issues that they feel strongly about, whether they concern my rulings or any matter of business in the House. Nevertheless, it is unwise and discourteous of a Member to recount them in the Chamber after a private meeting with me as Speaker. No matter who comes through my door, a private conversation remains private between me and a Member, regardless of the subject of that conversation.

I will respond to the other points of order that were made, particularly that which was raised by Mr O’Loan, in my own time and in my own nature. I will not allow any other Member of the House to try to put words in my mouth. I want to make that absolutely clear to the entire House, because it is all about protecting the procedures and business of the Assembly. I would like to think that a Member can come through my door and talk to me on any subject and know that the conversation between us will remain private.

, , ,

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Speaking for all cryptoTUVistintegrationistultratoryUUP members everywhere (both of us, including me and Spot the Dog), [keep it civil – edited moderator] Jim Allister, QC, MP here we come!

  • underwood

    To be fair to Hay, he is doing a good job, not least in his impartiality.

  • joeCanuck

    Yes, he is no lapdog of the DUP.
    Regarding Junior, can’t his Da or a friend, if he has one, tell him to stop digging holes.

  • Dave

    How absurd is it for a parliament to act to censor reality by deeming it “un-parliamentary” to point out that members of parliament have misled parliament? That is akin to a thief censoring the word theft from the English language so that he may never be accused of it.

    In regard to Mr Hay, if he regards talks in private as confidential, then he should not reveal what transpires in them – “I have spoken to the member concerned in private and the member has apologised to me.”

  • The Raven

    This is important stuff.

    By the way, did they get any work done today?

  • The Curious Orange

    He (Ian Paisley Junior) said that he met me in my office this morning to discuss a point of order that was raised by Mr O’Loan yesterday. In that regard, Mr Paisley Jnr’s remarks were certainly accurate. However, he went on to make remarks that he attributed to me. I wish to make it clear that those remarks were inaccurate.

    telling porkies then ?

  • joeCanuck

    He must buy his pants (on fire) in bulk.

  • The Curious Orange

    [keep it civil – edited moderator]

  • Quite frankly, anything said in private, “behind the Speaker’s Chair” or “via the usual channels” should stay there. It certainly should not be the basis for a specious “Point of Order” like this.

    Speaker Hay has a cast-iron case. Whatever was said, by whom, and where, is immaterial here. Were Paisley Jnr to inherit the Westminster North Antrim seat (or any other) he would be sliced at the knees for such behaviour: he would be daubed with the killer dishonour: “shit of the year”. (As recollection serves, he wouldn’t be the first NI holder of that title.)

    A certain somebody is deperate, and trying too hard. Why?

  • Driftwood

    By the way, did they get any work done today?

    The Raven, the exchange was on Tuesday morning. The Trumpton assembly only sits for 1.5 days, and even then, the answer is no. Stormont is like a pared down version of the parish council in ‘The Vicar of Dibley’, only with less power.
    Please please bring on real politicians like David Cameron, George Osborne and Owen Patterson to govern us ASAP.

  • underwood

    It’s beginning to look like the previously supposed heir apparent is determined to make things difficult for Robbo. Imagine how he must be smarting over being studiously ignored for a ministerial post.
    He’s developing into a bit of a loose cannon, which is a new one for the DUP. I think we should watch this one for developments, Robbo has been round too many corners for him to be shafted by anyone.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Please please bring on real politicians like David Cameron, George Osborne and Owen Patterson to govern us ASAP.

    No thanks, I’d rather be governed by people that we actually elect. Conservative or otherwise.

  • Dave

    “Speaker Hay has a cast-iron case.” – Malcolm Redfellow

    It’s a cast-ron case of do as I say, not as I do:

    “This morning, I received a verbal assurance from the Speaker that my use of that terminology about Mr O’Loan was, in his words, perfectly correct and used in the proper context of parliamentary cut and thrust of debate.” – Ian Paisley Jnr.

    “I have spoken to the member concerned in private and the member has apologised to me.” – William Hay

    Both of them reveal what transpired in private conversations between them.

    “No thanks, I’d rather be governed by people that we actually elect. Conservative or otherwise.” – Comrade Stalin

    And speaking of do as I say, not as I do. As a Europhile, 70% of all laws that govern you are imposed by a body that you do not “actually elect.” The European Commision is an unelected regime, and in regard to the European parliment: it is proposed under the Lisbon Treaty that the Irish electorate should elect 0.8% of its members and thereby have 0.8% control over how they are governed by that regime.

  • joeCanuck

    I imagine that nitpicking and comparing oranges with apples gives smuggers (new word) a sense of pleasure or satisfaction.

  • Pete Baker

    Malcolm has it right.

    The accuracy or otherwise of Ian Paisley Jnr’s remarks, and we haven’t got the actual ruling yet, are less important than his presentation, in a specious point of order, of what he was trying to imply would be the Speaker’s ruling on the matter.

    And no, Dave, the two examples are not equally reprehensible.

  • Please please bring on real politicians like David Cameron, George Osborne and Owen Patterson to govern us ASAP.

    Wouldn’t you rather have some conservatives?

  • joeCanuck

    Does anyone remember who coined the phrase “..lost the run of herself himself?

  • Driftwood

    Comrade Stalin
    No thanks, I’d rather be governed by people that we actually elect. Conservative or otherwise.

    We (the British public)elected them to our parliament. Unfortunately, Comrade, we have to wait nearly a year until they become our Government. The REAL Government. No-one I know thinks Stormont is anything other than Dads Army playing around at huge expense. (At huge expense to the mainland taxpayer).

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    Due to incessant trolling I’ve restricted the comments for the time being.

  • joeCanuck

    The DUP leader has said that he fully supports John Larkin, as reported in the BT. I don’t think youngish Paisley should expect any advancement in the party anytime soon.

  • Dave

    “And no, Dave, the two examples are not equally reprehensible.” – Pete Baker

    Why not? Both equally violate the stated principle that what is said in private remains private. Therefore, they are both equally ‘reprehensible’ to the stated decorum.

    Mt Paisley reveals that the Mr Hay agreed with him in private, and Mr Hay reveals that Mr Paisley apologised to him in private. Whether or not Mr Paisley’s misrepresented what Mr Hay said in private is a separate issue. But, if Mr Paisley did misrepresent what transpired in private, then he cannot be accused of revealing what actually transpired in private. That, of course, leaves of Mr Hay as the person revealing the content of a private conversation.

  • joeCanuck

    Dave,
    There has to be some sort of reward or honorary position entitled to you. BS Laureate perhaps, BS standing for Bachelor of Science, or something like that, of course.

  • Pete Baker

    Dave

    On the pedantic point, you are correct.

    But Mr Hay is the Speaker.

    Mr Paisley sought to pre-empt the Speaker’s ruling.

    While Mr Hay sought to bring an end to the immediate problem. Perhaps prematurely..