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Summary

  1. MLAs paid tribute to the Labour MP, Jo Cox.
  2. Sinn Féin called for a review of the Landlord Registration Scheme.
  3. DUP MLAs are brought a motion on the proposed closure of regional electoral offices.
  4. Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen and Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir appeared at Question Time.

Live Reporting

By Robin Sheeran and Brooke Allen

All times stated are UK

Good evening

That's it from Stormont today. 

We'll be back in the morning from 10:30 BST when MLAs will debate motions on broadband and mobile phone coverage, and animal cruelty. 

The health and justice ministers will also answer questions on the floor of the house. 

Until then, have a great evening. 

The motion passes

The motion passes on an oral vote. 

The assembly is adjourned. 

The house divides over amendment

As the amendment is not agreed on an oral vote, the house divides.

The amendment falls. 

Amendment is 'misguided'

The TUV leader, Jim Allister, backs the motion but says the amendment is "misguided". 

However, Sinn Féin's Michelle Gildernew says she is "concerned and agitated" by this motion and says we need to support rural constituencies by transferring functions to the executive. 

In winding on the motion, the DUP's Pam Cameron says we need to "make sure we make political engagement as easy and straightforward as we can". 

"The closure of the offices will be detrimental," she says. 

Transfer of powers to the assembly is the 'way forward'

"What is there to fear from the executive pursuing the transfer of functions of the Electoral Office?" asks Sinn Féin's John O'Dowd. 

"We are the defenders of democracy in this society and the transfer of powers to this assembly, is the way forward," he says. 

McCann 'urges' electoral staff to take action

Eamonn McCann
BBC

Eamonn McCann, from People before Profit, "urges" Electoral Office staff to take industrial action this Thursday, when people go to the polls to vote in the EU referendum. 

He asks the DUP's William Irwin if he would agree that "a once-off opportunity for the workers in the electoral office to press home their point with the British authorities will arise this Thursday and Friday". 

"A nil-all result in European referendum would be a big win for the Electoral Office workers and for all of us," he says. 

Adams appeals for Remain vote

Gerry Adams
Press Eye

A UK exit from the EU will be "bad for the economy on this island, business, farmers, the environment and workers' and human rights", according to Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams.

Speaking at Stormont today, he said: "We don't want to see the return of border checkpoints between the north and south, or restrictions on trade."

Democracy will 'suffer a blow'

Sydney Anderson
BBC

The DUP's Sydney Anderson says the party are "deeply concerned" about the proposals for the closure of regional electoral offices. 

He talks about the electoral office in Banbridge, within his constituency. 

Mr Anderson, like others, also expresses concerns about online registration and says people may not have the specific technology to access this service. 

He says if the electoral service is centralised, "democracy in Northern Ireland will suffer a blow". 

Amendment is 'unworkable'

The Alliance party's David Ford says "just because the existing pattern of offices has worked up until now, does not mean it is the right way". 

Mr Ford says we need "to work hard to get the numbers [of voters] as consistently high" as they should be. 

"There is a real mix up in the way the amendment is phrased, which makes it unworkable," he says. 

SDLP 'stands full square' behind electoral staff

The SDLP's Daniel McCrossan stands to support the motion. 

He says the SDLP stands "full square behind the staff of these offices" and says it is "vital that the chamber also shows the support today",  showing "solidarity in opposing these punitive and anti-democratic budget cuts". 

He also talks about the idea of online electoral registration in relation to the poor broadband connection in rural constituencies. He says these rural constituencies have "not been considered" and stresses the importance of face-to-face interaction. 

He says for "obvious reasons", the SDLP will not be supporting the amendment. 

'Collapse of online registration'

ballot box
BBC

Ulster Unionist Robin Swann talks specifically about the electoral office in his own constituency, in Ballymena, thanking the staff there for the work they do. 

He also talks about the proposal for online electoral registration, however, he says "last week we learned about the collapse of online registration in England and Wales" when people tried to register to vote in the EU referendum

He says his party support the motion but not the amendment. 

'Independent but accountable electorate service'

Daithí McKay
BBC

Sinn Féin's Daithí McKay stands to move the amendment on behalf of the party. 

Mr McKay says "setting up an independent but accountable electorate service should not be an issue". 

"At the end of the day, this is a decision that we should be taking. We should be taking a decision that safeguards this service," he says. 

The DUP's Thomas Buchanan says he does not support the proposed amendment.   

Motion: Closure of regional electoral offices

Polling station sign
Getty Images

DUP MLAs have tabled a motion that raises concerns over the proposed closure of regional electoral offices in Ballymena, Banbridge, Londonderry, Newtownabbey, Newtownards and Omagh.

The motion is calling on the Secretary of State, the Northern Ireland Office and the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland to "retain and fund adequately all regional offices currently under threat of closure". 

Sinn Féin MLAs have proposed an amendment to the motion. 

The amendment "calls on the executive to pursue the transfer of the functions of the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland". 

Motion agreed

The amendment and motion on the Landlord Registration Scheme are agreed on an oral vote. 

'We have their backs'

Carál Ní Chuilín
BBC

Sinn Féin's Carál Ní Chuilín says the amendment, as tabled by the Alliance Party, "strengthens" the motion. 

She also says she is pleased to have cross-party support on the motion so early on in the mandate. 

Ms Ní Chuilín says she realises there are housing problems in rural constituencies as well as in the city. 

"We want to make sure that those in the private rented sector, we have their backs," she says. 

MLAs return to debate

Paula Bradshaw
BBC

MLAs return to debating a motion on the Landlord Registration Scheme. 

The Alliance party's Paula Bradshaw is the first to speak on the proposed amendment to the motion. 

She says the amendment is "not anti-business" but will show that the assembly is "on the side of people" and "on the side of fairness in society". 

Rates on charity shops

In reply to a question from Richie McPhillips of the SDLP, Mr Ó Muilleoir says "it's not my intention to impose rates on charity shops".

"I think most charities want to make a contribution and they make the contribution through the wider charitable works, but at the same time we need to make sure that our high streets prosper," he says.

'Fair and proportionate'

Jim Allister of the TUV says the minister's officials have told the Finance Committee that the latest calculation showed a reduction in the block grant of £270m in the first year of the devolution of corporation tax.

calculator
Thinkstock

Mr Ó Muilleoir says that is a Treasury figure and that during negotiations with Treasury "we will decide for our people what is affordable, what is fair and proportionate".  

Corporation tax

Philip Smith
BBC

Ulster Unionist Philip Smith asks the minister when the executive will decide whether the reduction of corporation tax is affordable.

The minister says he is "absolutely confident that a corporation tax of 12.5% from April 2018 is affordable".

Finance Questions

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir
BBC

Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir is taking part in his first session of questions from MLAs.

Farming and the referendum

tractors at Stormont
pacemaker

The minister's DUP colleague, Thomas Buchanan, asks the minister how she would advise the rural community to vote in the EU referendum.

Miss McIlveen says the DUP "believe that Northern Ireland is better off out of Europe".

She says that farmers and fishermen she had met say "they are tired with the red tape and bureaucracy coming out of Europe".

Staff 'do not wish to move'

Gerry Mullan of the SDLP asks about the role of the civil service voluntary exit scheme in the Ballykelly move.

The minister says around 600 posts will move and that "as far as possible no-one will be forced to move to Ballykelly".

She says the majority of the current headquarters staff do not wish to move.

Headquarters move to Ballykelly

Michelle O'Neill
DARD
The fomer agriculture minister Michelle O'Neill unveiled the plans for the new DARD headquarters.

Stephen Farry of Alliance asks the minister about "the business continuity risks involved in the relocation of her departmental headquarters to Ballykelly".

The relocation scheme from Belfast to County Londonderry was a priority for the previous Agriculture Minister, Michelle O'Neill of Sinn Féin.

Miss McIlveen says the contract for construction has been awarded.

The minister says she is aware of  the need for "retaining crucial skills and corporate knowledge" and is contemplating a detailed staffing plan.

Stormont Today

Mark Carruthers
BBC

You can catch all of the happenings from today's assembly with Mark Carruthers on Stormont Today, tonight at 23:15 BST on BBC2 Northern Ireland. 

Question Time

Michelle McIlveen
BBC

Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen is answering members' questions.

This is her first Question Time since her appointment.

The minister responds

Housing
Getty Images

The Communities Minister, Paul Givan, responds to the debate. 

He says the discussion today reflects how MLAs are well informed on this issue and are "in touch with their communities". 

The minister makes reference to the schemes and legislation that are currently in place (such as the Houses in Multiple Occupancy bill) to protect tenants and landlords. 

"Over the next number of years, I want to focus on improving the regulatory framework in a targeted way and maximise all opportunities to improve the quality of the private rented sector, making the private rented sector a more attractive housing option," he says. 

The debate will be continued after Question Time. 

'Acute housing shortage'

Sinn Féin's Michelle Gildernew says we have "an acute housing shortage". 

She welcomes both the motion and the amendment, and says the "light touch that was applied before, probably was not robust enough". 

The Green Party's Clare Bailey talks about her own experiences and says she ended up homeless, having to live in a hostel with her children, by "not knowing her rights". 

'Ending homelessness is achievable'

Nichola Mallon
BBC

The SDLP's Nichola Mallon supports the motion and the amendment. 

She says it is right that "a departmental review of the role and regulation of the private rented sector is under way". 

"Ending homelessness is achievable, it is doable, it just requires the political will to achieve it," she says. 

Alliance and DUP support motion

Estate agent's window
BBC

The Alliance Party's Stewart Dickson and DUP's Jonathan Bell both rise to support the motion and the amendment. 

Mr Bell says the "waiting list is simply too long, particularly for social housing". 

Ulster Unionist Roy Beggs, says he would support previous speakers in agreeing that there needs to be a "balance in what happens as we go forward". 

"We do not need bureaucracy, we need action where it is actually needed," he says. 

'Essential' to regulate sector

Alex Maskey speaking
BBC

Mr Maskey says that it is "essential that this sector is regulated" to protect both tenants and landlords. 

He also welcomes the recent "brave intervention" from the Depaul and Welcome organisation on street begging and homelessness. 

You can read detail's of Depaul's Begging for Change Campaign here

Landlord Registration Scheme

rooftops
Getty Images

Sinn Féin's Alex Maskey and Fra McCann have tabled a motion on the Landlord Registration Scheme. 

They are asking the Minister for Communities, Paul Givan, to review the Landlord Registration Scheme to ensure it can cope with the sector and protect tenants. 

The Alliance party's Stewart Dickson and Paula Bradshaw have selected one amendment. 

Social security benefits

Paul Givan
BBC

Communities Minister Paul Givan brings a motion calling for approval of the Social Security Benefits Up-rating Order.

He explains that this is an annual order whereby the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions can increase the level of certain social security benefits "in relation to the general level of prices".

Mr Givan says the basic state pension will increase by £3.35 per week.

The SDLP's Colum Eastwood expresses the Communities Committee's support for the order.

The assembly votes to approve the order.

Budget Bill

cash
BBC

Finance Minister, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, brings the consideration stage of the Budget Number Two Bill to the assembly. 

This bill is required in order to put the budget into practice.

It sets out the fine detail and provides legal authority for departmental spending.

The consideration stage passes on an oral vote. 

BIC and the EU referendum

flags
BBC

Stephen Farry of Alliance asks about discussions regarding the EU referendum.

"We did have a very respectful and civil discussion in relation to the European Union referendum," Mrs Foster replies.

She says the governments recognised that the council could be a useful forum for discussion in the event of a leave vote, and that if this were the case they would meet "sooner than the scheduled meeting".

'Bland commitments'

Mike Nesbitt
BBC

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt says the the statement contains the usual "bland commitments", and asks Mrs Foster whether she can give details of of anything "that will benefit the people of Northern Ireland".

The first minister says the meeting had "a very interesting agenda", and that the council's mode of operation had been reviewed. 

'High turnout expected' in EU poll

Mark Devenport

BBC News NI Political Editor

Peter Bone
BBC

An exceptionally high turnout is expected in Thursday's EU referendum, according to Conservative MP Peter Bone, a founder of the pro-Leave campaign Grassroots Out.

Speaking at Stormont this morning, he said if everyone votes "we will wake up on Friday as an independent sovereign United Kingdom". But several high-profile Remain campaigners have have warned that Northern Ireland would suffer in the event of a Leave vote. 

Care in the community

carer
BBC

Mrs Foster says the meeting the meeting concentrated on unpaid care in the community.

She says the council "noted that whilst caring can be a a positive and rewarding experience, high-intensity caring in particular can result in poor carer health, both physical and mental".

British Irish Council statement

First Minister Arlene Foster reports back to the Assembly on a meeting of the British Irish Council held in Glasgow on 17 June.

'Brave and courageous woman'

The Alliance Party's Chris Lyttle is the final speaker on the matter of the day. 

"It is clear that Jo Cox was a brave and courageous woman, dearly loved by her husband and family and her colleagues". 

'Tragedy beyond measure'

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, the Green Party's Clare Bailey and People Before Profit's Gerry Carroll also pay their tributes to Jo Cox. 

The TUV's Jim Allister says he "trusts that from this, there will emerge a respect to human life". 

He describes the event as a "tragedy beyond measure for parliament and for family".