We now move on to our new Topical Issue debate. Before I call the Deputies in question I wish to make a brief point. This is the first time that the new procedure has taken place. The current Standing Orders effectively change the old Adjournment Debate into the Topical Issue Debate. From contact made to my office today it appears that Members are under some misapprehension and there is a need for clarification as to exactly how the procedure for the Topical Issue Debate can be implemented, whether it is the former Adjournment procedure as reflected in the Standing Order changes or a new way of raising topical issues.
It falls to my responsibility to select four issues. Topics can range from an immediate, important national issue to some local issue. I have to make a decision on them. For that reason I am convening a meeting of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges next week in order to tease out the matter and to allow the necessary changes to be made, if any need to be made. I am left in the position that I could be criticised or Members could feel very annoyed if their issue was not raised and they felt it was more important than some other issue. That situation did not arise in the old Adjournment Debate.
Today we had 18 Members seeking time. It is impossible to give more than one slot to any topic because in this case 18 people sought time to raise issues.
This is an important procedural change and it is of interest. I would like to see it working properly. I would like Members to be fullyau fait with how they can raise an issue and what sort of issues should be raised or whether we simply transfer the procedure of the old Adjournment Debate into this slot.