MEETING OF THE CHAIRPERSONS' LIAISON GROUP
TUESDAY 3 MARCH 2009
Mr Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (Chairperson)
Mr Danny Kennedy MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Cathal Boylan MLA
Mr Mark Durkan MLA
Mrs Carmel Hanna MLA
Mr Paul Maskey MLA
Dr William McCrea MP MLA
Mr Robin Newton MLA
Ms Sue Ramsey MLA
Mr David Simpson MP MLA
Mr Mervyn Storey MLA
Mr John Stewart, Director of Clerking and Reporting
Ms Nuala Dunwoody, Clerk Assistant
Mr Damien Martin, Clerk Assistant
Mr John Torney, Principal Clerk
Mrs Christine Darrah, Clerk to the Liaison Group
Ms Marie Austin, Assistant Clerk
Mr Paul Breen, Clerical Supervisor
Mr Jonathan Young, Clerical Officer
Mr Fred Cobain MLA
Mr Barry McElduff MLA
Mr Patsy McGlone MLA
The Lord Morrow MLA
Mrs Iris Robinson MP MLA
Mr Jimmy Spratt MLA
The meeting opened at 12.35 p.m. in closed session
1. Chairperson’s introduction
The Chairperson welcomed all present to the meeting.
2. Minutes of the meeting of 20 January 2009
The minutes of the meeting of 20 January 2009 were agreed.
Mr David Simpson joined the meeting at 12.37 p.m.
3. Matters Arising from the meeting on 20 January 2009
There were no matters arising.
4. Consideration of a draft response to the draft Assembly Engagement Strategy
Mr Danny Kennedy joined the meeting at 12.40 p.m.
Mr Cathal Boylan joined the meeting at 12.42 p.m.
The chairpersons considered a draft response to the draft Assembly Engagement Strategy which covered the Liaison Group’s views on the key proposals relating to committees and other proposals that were likely to impact on the work of committees and included a number of additional proposals for inclusion in the strategy.
Agreed: The response, subject to two amendments, should be sent to the Director of Engagement.
The chairpersons noted information regarding the use of the main chambers in other legislatures ( England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland) which indicated that they were almost entirely used for plenary business only, and any exception to this was very rare.
Agreed: No further action in relation to this matter was required.
The chairpersons considered a proposal to hold a trial involving the filming of a committee meeting in Room 135 after Easter recess. The trial would be used to assess the quality of the cameras and other equipment and what, if any, modifications would need to be made to the committee room and would help to inform the development of broadcasting facilities in all committee rooms to enable live streaming/recording of committee meetings in public session to take place.
Agreed: Arrangements should be made for the trial to take place.
5. Consideration of draft timescales for the provision of information and evidence to committees by departments
Mr Mark Durkan joined the meeting at 12.45 p.m.
Dr William McCrea joined the meeting at 12.52 p.m.
The chairpersons discussed in detail d raft guidance on timescales for the provision of information and evidence to committees by departments that had been prepared by officials from the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister in conjunction with Committee Office staff.
Agreed: Chairpersons were generally content with the draft guidance subject to a number of amendments.
Agreed: Further drafting work would be taken forward by officials.
Agreed: The guidance would come back to CLG for further consideration/approval in due course.
Agreed: Further consideration should be given to possible procedural mechanisms that could be used to highlight when departmental responses to committee reports were not received within the agreed timescale.
6. Provision of a web-based text messaging service for committees
Mr Robin Newton left the meeting at 12.57 p.m.
The chairpersons considered the options available and the associated costs for the provision of a web-based text messaging service for committees.
Agreed: A two-way text messaging service for committees which enabled members to reply to messages at their standard network rate should be installed.
7. Committee End of Session Reports
Ms Carmel Hanna joined the meeting at 1.08 p.m.
The chairpersons discussed a proposal that committees should produce ‘end of session’ reports and noted that such reports were an important tool used in other legislatures to generate an improved understanding, amongst representatives of the media and members of the public, of the work of committees.
Agreed: Each committee should produce an ‘end of session’ report.
Agreed: Proposals for the lay-out, format, content and publication arrangements for such reports should be provided for the Liaison Group’s consideration.
8. Letter from the Chairperson of the Committee for Employment and Learning regarding work-shadowing placements during Disability Week
The chairpersons considered a letter from the Chairperson of the Committee for Employment and Learning, Ms Sue Ramsey, regarding work-shadowing placements during Disability Week in June 2009. Ms Ramsey encouraged chairpersons to consider hosting a disabled young person for work experience during the week and highlighted that the initiative linked in well with the objectives of the Assembly Engagement Strategy.
The chairpersons voiced their support for the initiative and recommended that all committees should take part.
Agreed: A copy of the letter from the Chairperson of the Committee for Employment and Learning should be circulated to all committee clerks to bring to the attention of their committees.
9. Forward work programme
The chairpersons noted the up-dated forward work programme.
Agreed: Chairpersons would advise the clerk of any other items for inclusion in the work programme.
10. Any other business
11. Date, time and venue of next meeting
The next meeting of the Liaison Group will take place on Tuesday 31 March 2009 at 12.30 p.m. in Room 21, Parliament Buildings. The chairpersons noted that the main agenda item for the meeting was consideration of commissioned research bids.
Agreed:The meeting may be deferred if there was a delay in the receipt of commissioned research bids from committees.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.17 p.m.
Mr Mitchel McLaughlin
28 April 2009