Northern Ireland Assembly Flax Flower Logo


Mr Danny Kennedy MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Cathal Boylan MLA
Mrs Carmel Hanna MLA
Mr Barry McElduff MLA
Mr Paul Maskey MLA
Mr Robin Newton MLA
Ms Sue Ramsey MLA

In Attendance:
Mr Treavor Reaney, Clerk/Director General
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
Ms Heather Maginnis, Clerical Supervisor

Mr Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (Chairperson)
Mr Fred Cobain MLA
Mr Mark Durkan MLA
Dr William McCrea MP MLA
Mr Patsy McGlone MLA
The Lord Morrow MLA
Mrs Iris Robinson MP MLA
Mr David Simpson MP MLA
Mr Jimmy Spratt MLA
Mr Mervyn Storey MLA

The meeting opened at 12.40 p.m. in closed session

1. Chairperson’s introduction

The Deputy Chairperson welcomed all present to the meeting and in particular Ms Heather Maginnis who had taken up post as the clerical supervisor to the Liaison Group.

2. Minutes of the meeting of 28 April 2009

The minutes of the meeting of 28 April 2009 were agreed.

3. Matters Arising from the meeting on 28 April 2009
(i) Proposals for Inclusion of Committee Expenditure in ‘End of Session’ Reports

The chairpersons considered proposals relating to the format and information on committee expenditure to be included in committee ‘end of session’ reports.

Agreed: The key areas of committee expenditure to be included in ‘end of session’ reports would cover committee travel; printing of committee reports; cost of public notices in newspapers; consultancy support; and, general expenses.

Agreed: The information provided would cover the budget category, the expenditure and information relating to the expenditure.

Agreed: The expenditure information would cover the same time period as the ‘end of session’ report.

Agreed: The expenditure information would be attached as an appendix to the ‘end of session’ report.

The Deputy Chairperson suspended the meeting at 12.47 p.m. due to a division in the Chamber.

The Deputy Chairperson resumed the meeting at 1.04 p.m. with the following members present:
Mr Danny Kennedy MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Cathal Boylan MLA
Mrs Carmel Hanna MLA
Mr Barry McElduff MLA
Mr Paul Maskey MLA
Ms Sue Ramsey MLA

4. Briefing on media access within Parliament Buildings

The Deputy Chairperson welcomed the Assembly Head of Communications, Ms Susie Brown, to the meeting.

Ms Brown briefed the Liaison Group on the new media handbook and the enhanced access arrangements for the Stormont Correspondents Group. She explained that the aim of providing increased and improved access and facilities for the media in Parliament Buildings, within the context of the Engagement Strategy, was to help achieve increased awareness of and coverage of the work of committees. She highlighted that the new arrangements were being introduced on a pilot basis commencing on 8 June 2009 and there would be an opportunity to provide feedback on the operational out workings when the pilot project was reviewed.

The chairpersons welcomed the proposals in general and appreciated the efforts being made to increase openness and transparency. They raised a number of issues including:

Ms Brown undertook to give further consideration to the issues that had been raised and write to the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson.

Agreed: Given the intention to introduce the new arrangements on 8 June the response from Ms Brown to the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson would be circulated to all members of the Liaison Group by way of correspondence.

5. Scrutiny of Delegated Powers in Primary Legislation

Information was provided to chairpersons on new arrangements to assist committees when scrutinising delegated powers in primary legislation.

The chairpersons noted proposals for departments to provide a Delegated Powers Memorandum in relation to Executive Bills. The Memorandum would identify every provision for delegated legislation in a given bill; explain its purpose; outline why the power had been left to delegated legislation; and, explain the choice of Assembly control. The committee would then consider the delegated powers provisions, and whether they were appropriate. Any views expressed by the committee in relation to the delegated powers would be reflected in the committee report.

The chairpersons noted that the new arrangements would enhance the ability of committees to scrutinise the delegated powers contained in primary legislation.

6. Committee Spend 2008/09 and Budget for 2009/10

The chairpersons considered detailed information on committee spend for 2008/2009 and the committee budget for 2009/2010. Clarification was provided in relation to a number of budget areas including those relating to specialist advisers and advertising of committee meetings outside Parliament Buildings.

The chairpersons noted that an up-date on committee spend for 2009/2010 would be provided in six-months time.

Agreed: The Head of Research and Library Services should attend a meeting of the Liaison Group to brief chairpersons on the research services available to committees.

Agreed: Further information on the committee budget easements identified as part of the 2008 monitoring rounds should be circulated to the Liaison Group.

Agreed: Further consideration should be given to the strategy for publicising committee meetings held outside Parliament Buildings to maximise attendance by members of the public etc.

Ms Carmel Hanna left the meeting at 1.40 p.m.

7. Committee visits/meetings held outside Parliament Buildings

The chairpersons noted information provided on committee visits/meetings held outside Parliament Buildings. During the period 1 November 2008 to 30 April 2009, thirty-one visits had been undertaken by committees to a variety of locations within Northern Ireland and further afield. Twenty-two committee meetings had taken place outside of Parliament Buildings, many in conjunction with a committee visit. The level of visits and meetings held outside Parliament Buildings was very similar to the previous six-month period. A further up-date would be provided in November 2009.

8. Up-dated Forward Work Programme

The chairpersons noted the up-dated forward work programme.

Agreed: Chairpersons should advise the clerk of any other items for inclusion in the work programme.

Ms Carmel Hanna joined the meeting at 1.43 p.m.

9. Any other business

The Chairperson of the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Mr Barry McElduff, raised the issue of how chairpersons should report back to their committees on the issues considered by the Liaison Group.

Agreed: The provision of a short note from the Clerk to the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group for

this purpose would be useful.

10. Date, time and venue of next meeting

The next meeting of the Liaison Group will take place on Tuesday 23 June 2009 at 12.30 p.m. in Room 21, Parliament Buildings.

The Deputy Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.45 p.m.

Mr Mitchel McLaughlin
23 June 2009

28 April 2009 / Menu