HELD ON 07 JUNE 2007
AT 10.00AM IN ROOM 106
Mr Stephen Moutray
Mr Paul Butler
Rev Robert Coulter
Mr Sean Neeson
Mr Alban Maginness
In Attendance: Mr A Moir, Mr T Logue, Mr T Evans, Mr R Good, Ms S McClelland (for item 6), Ms C McGowan, and Ms C Foster.
The Speaker welcomed Members to the second meeting of the Assembly Commission.
1. MINUTES OF COMMISSION MEETINGS
The minutes of the first meeting of the Assembly Commission held on 17 May 2007 and an Ad Hoc meeting held on 24 May 2007 were agreed.
2. MATTERS ARISING
2.1 Accommodation Update
Mr Evans spoke to a paper which outlined progress made on accommodation issues and highlighted a number of areas, namely, that:
- Committee Chairpersons had now been satisfactorily ‘housed’;
- discussions were on-going with Parties to facilitate educational visits;
- additional space had been secured in Annexe C;
- the Executive was being consulted on room availability.
One Member raised concerns about progress with Ormiston House and it was agreed that an early visit should be scheduled for Members to view the premises. It was further agreed that accommodation should be placed on the Commission’s ‘Away Day’ agenda.
2.2 Details of Legal Challenges
The Speaker informed members that this item would be discussed under substantive item 5.
2.3 Details of Old Style Secondees by Grade
It was agreed that this item would be covered under substantive item 5.
3. SENIOR SALARIES REVIEW BODY (SSRB) TERMS OF REFERENCE AND TIMESCALE
Mr Logue talked to a paper which outlined the remit of the SSRB together with a draft Terms of Reference for Members’ consideration. He informed Members of the likely timescale involved in the process and it was agreed that the Clerk to the Commission should draft a letter from the Speaker to enlist the services of SSRB.
4. CONSULTATION WITH TRADE UNION SIDE (TUS)
Mr Evans tabled a paper from TUS and summarised the key areas arising from his recent discussions with Whitley. He informed the team of Trade Union’s desire to allow a dedicated representative to work with the Secretariat for a period of 12-18 months in relation to Terms and Conditions/Pay and Grading issues. He reminded Members that a TUS delegation would be attending the next Commission meeting. Mr Moir and Mr Evans indicated their support for the TUS request. It was agreed that Trade Union’s request and other related issues should be discussed at the next meeting.
5. PAY AND STAFFING ISSUES
5.1 Starting Pay Policy
Mr Moir explained the legal advice he had received in relation to a number of potential scenarios. Members sought further clarification and it was agreed that the issue should be deferred to the next Commission meeting and that the Director of Legal Services be invited to attend. It was further agreed that Members could seek further information, on an individual basis, from the Clerk and the Director of Legal Services prior to that meeting.
Details of Legal Challenges
Mr Moir referred to the status of legal challenges. It was agreed that Commission members would be updated on any legal challenges, on a quarterly basis.
Details of Old Style Secondees by Grade
Members received a table outlining details of “old style” secondees by grade which had been requested at the recent Ad Hoc meeting .
5.2 Review of Equal Pay - TOR
Mr Evans spoke to a paper detailing the Terms of Reference and scope for an Equal Pay Review. Mr Evans stated that he was awaiting a response from Trade Union Side (TUS) on the proposed methodology for the process.
Following discussion, the Commission approved the approach in line with the 5-step Equal Pay Review kit produced by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and agreed to defer final sign-off for the Review pending a response from TUS. Mr Moir highlighted the importance of this matter and asked that TUS be reminded about the need for a response.
Ms McClelland joined the meeting at 11:00 am
6. REVIEW OF SECURITY - UPDATE
Ms McClelland explained the advancements made in implementing a number of security review recommendations, namely
- The Service Level Agreement with PSNI; and
- Progress on the establishment of an external search facility.
The Commission agreed that work should progress with the Assistant Chief Constable to develop a Service Level Agreement between the Assembly and the PSNI.
Members further agreed that early excavation work should begin at the site for the external search facility during the summer recess.
Ms McClelland then updated the Commission on a theft within Parliament Buildings. The Commission requested details of further measures that could be put in place, taking account of operational procedures within the Scottish Parliament.
7. ESTABLISHMENT OF HOUSE COMMITTEES
The Speaker highlighted the main strategic projects facing the Assembly Commission over the coming months and following discussion it was agreed that individual meetings would be held with Members to discuss the focus of future sub-groups of the Assembly Commission.
The Commission also agreed that this matter would form part of the Commission’s ’Away Day’ agenda.
8. INVITATION FROM CANADIAN PARLIAMENT
The Speaker informed members that he had received an oral invitation from the Canadian Senate inviting Commission members to visit their Parliament. Mr Logue proposed a draft timescale and Members agreed that the Clerk to the Commission should research the proposal and bring back a paper to an early Commission meeting.
9.ANY OTHER BUSINESS
9.1 The British/Irish Council (BIC) Summit: Ms McClelland drew Members’ attention to a paper containing a proposal to host a British/Irish summit in early July at Parliament Buildings. It was agreed that security arrangements similar to 8 May’s event would apply.
Ms McClelland left the meeting at 11:30 am
9.2 CPA - Initial Branch Meeting: Mr Moir tabled a draft All Party Notice for Members’ information seeking nomination for the NI Assembly’s CPA group.
9.2 Portfolio Arrangements - meetings with Directors: Mr Logue explained that, following the establishment of portfolio arrangements, it would be useful for Members to meet Directors. It was agreed that Directors should be invited to meet with the Commission Members, following the next Commission meeting.
9.3 Audit Committee: Mr Moir briefed Members on the nature of the Secretariat Audit Advisory Committee (SAAC) and advised that its membership and Terms of Reference should be reviewed to take account of restoration. It was agreed that the chair of SAAC, Mr MacQuarrie, should be invited to an early Commission meeting to brief members.
9.4 An Illustrative History of the Stormont Parliament: Mr Logue informed the group that he had been approached by a publisher offering to put together a book on the history of Stormont. He iterated that the Commission would not be charged for the service and that Members would be consulted on what the book would contain. Members agreed that the Clerk to the Commission act as liaison officer and inform the publisher of their decision to allow the publication.
Non Executive Bills - Provision of Drafting Service: Mr Moir tabled a paper relating a proposal to allow the procurement of specialist drafting services. He informed that this service had been provided in the last Mandate but that the contracts had expired during the period of suspension. Members agreed that procurement for this service be expedited. It was further agreed that Mr Logue approach Alban Maginness to invite him to chair the selection panel.
Financial Business: Mr Evans gave a verbal update on the requirements for the forthcoming June Monitoring Round. Members approved the release of an agreed sum.
TV Monitors: One Member raised the issue of installing TV monitors in the public gallery in the Chamber. Mr Evans agreed to consider the request and report back at an early Commission meeting.
10. Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting of the Assembly Commission will be held on Thursday 21 June 2007 at 10:00 am in Room 106.
The meeting ended at 12:00 pm
Clerk to the Assembly Commission