MEETING OF THE CHAIRPERSONS' LIAISON GROUP
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
TUESDAY 13 MAY 2008
Mr Sammy Wilson MP MLA (Chairperson)
Mr Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Cathal Boylan MLA
Mrs Carmel Hanna MLA
Mr Danny Kennedy MLA
Dr William McCrea MP MLA
Ms Sue Ramsey, MLA
Mr Jimmy Spratt, MLA
Ms Nuala Dunwoody, Clerk Assistant
Mr John Torney, Principal Clerk
Mrs Christine Darrah, Clerk to the Liaison Group
Mrs Mary Curran, Assistant Clerk
Mr Paul Breen, Clerical Supervisor
Mr Mark Durkan MP MLA
Mr Barry McElduff MLA
Mr Patsy McGlone MLA
Mr Robin Newton MLA
Mr John O’Dowd MLA
The meeting opened at 12.36 p.m. in closed session
1. Chairperson’s introduction
The Chairperson welcomed all present to the meeting.
2. Minutes of the meeting of 15 April 2008
The minutes of the meeting of 15 April 2008 were agreed.
Mrs Carmel Hanna joined the meeting at 12.40 p.m.
3. Matters Arising from the meeting on 15 April 2008
The Chairperson advised members that the Committee for Regional Development was in the process of appointing a specialist adviser. The Clerk to the Liaison Group was working closely with the Committee to ensure Assembly procurement policy was followed. The learning points from this appointment process would be used when finalising the guidance on the appointment of specialist advisers which would be presented to the Liaison Group for consideration in due course.
Dr McCrea joined the meeting at 12.50 p.m.
4. Review Report – Northern Ireland Assembly Secretariat – Briefing by the Interim Clerk/Director General
A copy of the note of the meeting between the Chairperson and Mr John Hunter on 15 April to discuss progress in implementing the recommendations of the Review Report was circulated.
The Chairperson welcomed the Interim Clerk/Director-General, Carol Devon, to the meeting.
The Interim Clerk/Director General gave an overview of progress with regard to the implementation of the recommendations of the Review Report and on-going strategic projects including the new Secretariat organisational structure, the accommodation project, corporate governance issues, the Outreach and Engagement Strategy and the wide range of HR issues including starting pay, terms and conditions and the separation project.
Detailed information was also provided on the recruitment competitions for Assembly Clerk and Assistant Assembly Clerk posts, the likely timescale for filling posts and the arrangements being put in place to minimise the effect of the changes and ensure the committees and chairpersons continued to receive the appropriate level of support and expert advice throughout the period.
The briefing was followed by a lengthy question and answer session where issues and concerns were discussed regarding the recruitment competitions, the high turnover of staff that would take place within a short period of time at Assembly Clerk and Assistant Assembly Clerk grades and the capacity available to provide the committees with the necessary level of support and expert advice during the change period.
Mr McLaughlin left the meeting at 1.17 p.m.
Dr McCrea left the meeting at 1.18 p.m.
Mr Kennedy joined the meeting at 1.20 p.m.
The Chairperson thanked the Interim Clerk/Director General for the briefing and she left the meeting.
5. Briefing on Procedures and Support for Committee Bills
The Chairperson welcomed the Principal Clerk of Bills, Martin Wilson, to the meeting.
Ms Ramsey left the meeting at 1.24 p.m.
The Principal Clerk of Bills provided a briefing on the procedures for and assistance available to facilitate committee bills. This was followed by a short question and answer session which covered the drafting service in place, the available budget, the role of the Speaker and how the committee stage of committee bills could be handled.
The Chairperson thanked the Principal Clerk of Bills for the briefing and he left the meeting.
6. Forward Work Programme
The chairpersons noted the up-dated forward work programme.
Agreed: The meeting due to take place on 10 June 2008 should be re-scheduled to 24 June and all work items due before summer recess should be dealt with at that meeting.
7. Date, Time and Venue of Next Meeting
The next meeting of the Liaison Group will take place on Tuesday 24 June 2008 at 12.30 p.m. in Room 21, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.39 p.m.