Mrs Dolores Kelly MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Simon Hamilton MLA
Ms Jennifer McCann MLA
Mr Barry McElduff MLA
Mr Alban Maginness MLA
Mr Declan O’Loan MLA
Ms Sue Ramsey MLA
Mr Jimmy Spratt MLA
Mr Mervyn Storey MLA
Mr Jim Wells MLA
Ms Nuala Dunwoody, Clerk Assistant
Mr Damien Martin, Clerk Assistant
Mrs Christine Darrah, Clerk to the Liaison Group
Mr John Simmons, Committee Clerk (for item 6 only)
Ms Marie Austin, Assistant Clerk
Mr George McClelland, Clerical Supervisor
Mr Oliver Bellew, Clerical Officer
Mr Danny Kennedy MLA (Chairperson)
Mr Fred Cobain MLA
Mr Paul Maskey MLA
The Lord Morrow MLA
Mr Ian Paisley Jnr MLA
The meeting opened at 12.35 p.m. in closed session
1. Deputy Chairperson’s introduction
The Deputy Chairperson welcomed all to the meeting and in particular Mr George McClelland who had taken up post as the clerical supervisor to the Liaison Group.
2. Minutes of the meeting of 24 November 2009
The minutes of the meeting of 24 November 2009 were agreed.
3. Matters Arising
12.38 p.m. Mr McElduff joined the meeting
New front cover for committee reports
At its meeting in September 2009 the Liaison Group had agreed that the new front cover for committee reports should incorporate a photograph of the Assembly in Plenary session. The sample photograph provided at that time cut out some of the seats in the Assembly Chamber and the Liaison Group requested that a photograph that captured all the seats in the Chamber be used.
The Deputy Chairperson advised the Liaison Group that it was not possible to incorporate a photograph on the front cover of committee reports that captured all the seats and the sample cover circulated at the meeting was the best that could be achieved.
Agreed: The sample cover provided, incorporating a photograph of the Assembly in Plenary session, should be adopted as the new front cover for committee reports.
4. Committee Office December 2009 Monitoring Round Return
12.40 p.m. Mr O’Loan joined the meeting
The Liaison Group considered information on the amounts surrendered by the Committee Office as part of the December 2009 Monitoring Round .
Chairpersons noted that reduced requirements had been identified across a range of budget areas, particularly in relation to committee travel and consultancy support which covered the cost of specialist advisers and commissioned research, and a total of £175,000 had been surrendered. In identifying reduced requirements account had been taken of expenditure incurred, estimates of likely significant committee expenditure during the remaining spending period and, as far as possible, the aim in the Assembly Corporate Plan and the Directorate Business Plan that actual expenditure should vary from budgeted expenditure by no more than 5%.
5. Guidance on the Retention and Storage of gifts received by Chairpersons
12.45 p.m. Mr Wells joined the meeting
The Liaison Group considered guidance on the retention and storage of gifts received by committee chairpersons.
Chairpersons noted that if they received a gift in the course of their duties which, in their view, would be more appropriately stored and displayed by the Assembly, they should notify the Committee Clerk. The gift would then be considered to be an Assembly artefact, would be stored or displayed as appropriate and would remain the property of the Assembly.
6. Support for Members and Committees in carrying out their parliamentary duties
12.46 p.m. Mrs McCann left the meeting
The Liaison Group was briefed on the familiarisation sessions and briefing sessions on the Business, Bill and Committee Offices and the Office of the Official Report (Hansard) that were available through the Secretariat on an on-going basis to support Members and committees in carrying out their parliamentary duties. Information was also provided on bespoke training on questioning techniques that had been provided to Members in other legislatures.
Agreed: A paper listing all available advice/briefing sessions on Clerking and Reporting Assembly procedures should be circulated to all Members and, based on the level of interest, a customised programme of briefings could be developed for Members.
Agreed: Further information should be sought and consideration given to the development of a pilot course, initially for chairpersons, on scrutiny questioning techniques. Based on the outcome of the pilot project consideration would be given to the roll-out of the course to all committee members.
Agreed: Further information on the role and functions of Departmental Assembly Liaison Officers (DALOs) would be provided to chairpersons.
7. Any other business
8. Date, time and venue of next meeting
The next meeting of the Liaison Group will take place on Tuesday 16 February 2010 at 12.30 p.m. in Room 21, Parliament Buildings.The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.49 p.m.