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Mr Mitchel McLaughlin, MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Paul Maskey, MLA
Mr Barry McElduff, MLA
Mr Robin Newton, MLA
Ms Sue Ramsey, MLA
Mr David Simpson, MP MLA
Mr Mervyn Storey, MLA

In Attendance:
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 Fred Cobain, MLA
M r Mark Durkan, MP MLA
Mr Danny Kennedy, MLA
The Lord Morrow, MLA
Mr Patsy McGlone, MLA
Mrs Iris Robinson, MP MLA
Mr Jimmy Spratt, MLA

The meeting opened at 12.35 p.m. in closed session

1. Deputy Chairperson’s introduction

The Deputy Chairperson welcomed all present to the meeting.

2. Minutes of the meeting of 13 May 2008

The minutes of the meeting of 13 May 2008 were agreed.

3. Matters Arising from the meeting on 13 May 2008

Recruitment Competitions for Assembly Clerk and Assistant Assembly Clerk

The Deputy Chairperson advised members that the Interim Clerk/Director General, Carol Devon, had brought the concerns expressed at the previous meeting regarding the recent Assembly Clerk and Assistant Assembly Clerk recruitment competitions to the attention of the Commission and had also drawn to its attention the issues raised about the possible impact of the likely high turnover of staff and the need to ensure that there would be no reduction in the standard of support and expert advice provided to committees. Ms Devon had also instructed the Director of Implementation to review the recruitment exercises with NISRA to identify lessons that could be learned for future recruitment campaigns.

Work Programme

The Chairpersons noted that a number of items on the work programme had been rescheduled.

Mr McElduff joined the meeting at 12.40 pm

4. Proposals for Joint Committees

The Chairpersons discussed detailed information provided by the Committee on Procedures on its proposals to allow for two types of joint committee and noted the proposed timetable for the introduction of the arrangements. The Chairpersons also considered whether an MLA who was a deputy chairperson of a joint committee and who took on the chairpersonship of a joint committee should be paid the difference between the deputy chairperson allowance and the chairperson allowance.

Agreed: The Liaison Group would consider the draft Standing Orders relating to joint committees when available.

Agreed: A deputy chairperson who took on the chairpersonship of a joint committee should be paid the difference in the allowances.

The Chairpersons also noted that the amendments to Standing Orders relating to the quorum for committees would be presented to the Assembly for approval on 1 July 2008 and, assuming the amendments were approved, from that date committees would be able to take evidence and hear from witnesses with a quorum of four.

5. Draft Guidance on Legal Advice for Assembly Committees

The Chairpersons considered a guidance note which set out proposed procedures to be followed when obtaining legal advice for committees from the Assembly Legal Services. The guidance covered a number of areas including the distinction between procedural advice and legal advice, the attendance of the Legal Adviser at committee meetings and the disclosure of legal advice by committees.

Agreed:The approach and procedures outlined in the guidance note, including the position proposed in relation to the disclosure of legal advice by committees, should be adopted.

6 . Information Packs for Committee Motions

The Chairpersons considered detailed proposals for the provision of information packs for all MLAs for committee motions tabled for debate in Plenary that were not related to committee inquiries, published reports, primary or secondary legislation.

Agreed: The proposed approach and arrangements should be implemented.

7 . Information on Committee Spend 07/08 and Budget 08/09

The Chairpersons noted detailed information on the committee spend for 07/08 and the budget available for 08/09 and clarification was provided in relation to a number of areas.

8. Publication of Members Attendance at Committee Meetings

The Chairpersons considered proposals for the publication of information on the attendance of members at committee meetings during each Assembly session.

Agreed: Information on the attendance of members at committee meetings should be published.

Agreed: The information should be published for each Assembly session on the committee webpages in September each year.

Agreed: The information should also be published at the end of each mandate in the end of mandate report agreed by each committee.

9.Arrangements for chairing meetings of the Liaison Group

The Deputy Chairperson reminded members that it had been agreed at the first meeting of the Liaison Group that the positions of chairperson and deputy chairperson should be rotated annually on the basis of party strength. The positions were therefore due to be rotated at the beginning of July 2008.

Agreed: Sinn Féin should be invited to nominate a chairperson from amongst the membership of the Liaison Group to assume the role from 1 July 2008. Mr Mitchel McLaughlin was nominated.

Agreed: The Ulster Unionist Party should be invited to nominate a deputy chairperson. Mr Danny Kennedy was nominated.

10. Date, Time and Venue of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Liaison Group will take place on Tuesday 23 September 2008 at 12.30 p.m. in Room 21, Parliament Buildings.

The Deputy Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.05 p.m.


23 September 2008

13 May 2008 / Menu