MINUTES OF THE FIFTH MEETING OF THE ASSEMBLY COMMISSION
HELD ON 09 JULY 2007 AT 09:30AM IN ROOM 106
Present: The Speaker
Mr Stephen Moutray
Mr Alban Maginness
Mr Sean Neeson
Apologies: Rev Robert Coulter
Mr Paul Butler
In Attendance: Mr A Moir, Mr T Logue, Mr T Evans, Mr R Good, Ms C McGowan, and Ms C Foster.
1. MINUTES OF LAST COMMISSION MEETINGS
The minutes of the fourth meeting held on 21 June 2007 as well as an extra-ordinary meeting held on 5 July 2007 were agreed.
2. CHAIRMAN’S BUSINESS
The Speaker informed Members that he had arranged to meet with Senior Managers to outline details of the proposed Review of the Secretariat.
3. MATTERS ARISING
3.1 Whitmuir Draft Report
Mr Logue advised that a copy of the draft Whitmuir Report had been included in papers for Members’ information.
3.2 Members’ Salaries and Allowances - publication arrangements
Mr Evans reported that Members Salaries and Allowances for 2005-06 had been published on the Assembly’s Website. He further reported that a paper outlining a timetable for future publication arrangements would be brought to an early Commission meeting.
3.3 Mobile Messaging
Mr Logue confirmed that IT had been provided with a variety of hand held mobile messaging devices and they would be available to demonstrate to Members on a one-to-one basis.
3.4 Shower Facilities
Ms Mc Clelland to consider the provision of shower facilities at Parliament Buildings within the context of the on-going accommodation review.
3.5 TV Monitors
Mr Evans reported that a proposal to install TV monitors in the public gallery in the Chamber was currently being explored and that an options paper would be brought to an early Commission meeting. Mr Maginness raised concerns about seating and visibility in the Press Gallery. While it was felt that the installation of TV monitors may help alleviate concerns, Mr Evans agreed to further discuss existing arrangements at an early meeting of the Stormont Correspondents’ Group.
4. STARTING PAY POLICY
It was agreed that this item would form part of the Review of the Secretariat.
5. EQUALITY SCHEME
Mr Logue explained that, following Restoration, the Assembly had been designated a public body and consequently was required to ensure that an Equality Scheme was put in place. He spoke to a paper outlining a proposals and draft timeframe and the following was agreed:
- a letter to issue to the Equality Commission detailing proposed actions;
- a consultation strategy to be drawn up and implemented;
- consultation to run until the end of September 2007.
The Speaker emphasised the importance of this piece of work and confirmed that Parties would be consulted during the consultation period.
6. CLERK’S MONTHLY REPORTS - PROPOSED NEW FORMAT
Mr Moir drew Members’ attention to the revised and additional features in the monthly report and in particular highlighted the link to the corporate plan. The Speaker complemented the Clerk on the new style and asked Members to channel comments directly to Mr Moir.
7. SECURITY REVIEW - UPDATE
Mr Evans spoke to a paper which detailed progress on the recommendations contained in the recent Review of Security. Members agreed that procurement should be initiated to upgrade existing equipment/technology. A proposal to review the layout of the Parliament Buildings site was raised and the Speaker asked Members to discuss this with the Deputy Chief Executive on a one-to-one basis.
8. SUPPORT FOR PARTY WHIPS
Mr Evans referred to a paper which set out the options for establishing a funding mechanism to meet costs of providing administrative support for Party Whips. The paper detailed the crucial role of the Whip and included comparative arrangements with other legislatures. The Speaker re-iterated the importance of the Whip’s post and with Members’ agreement option 2 was selected as the way forward. Mr Evans agreed to contact Whips and inform them of the Commission’s decision. A motion will be prepared for consideration by the Assembly at its first meeting following Summer Recess.
9. SSRB UPDATE
Mr Logue appraised Members on the outworkings of his recent discussions with SSRB, namely that:
SSRB could accommodate a review in late Autumn requiring Members/Parties to be interviewed;
Support for Party Whips could be included in this process;
The overall process could be completed by Summer 2008.
Members agreed to accept SSRB’s recommendation.
10. IT CONTRACT
Mr Evans spoke to a paper seeking the Commission’s approval to move to award of contract for replacing the Assembly’s network equipment. Members agreed that the internal Project Board should manage this during Summer Recess.
11. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
11.1 Pilot Internship Programme
Mr Logue explained the pilot student intern programme to Members and gave details of the forthcoming scheme. The Speaker asked that Parties interested in hosting a student placement should discuss separately with the Clerk to the Commission.
11.2 Taxi Contract
Mr Evans appraised Members on the taxi contract procurement and agreed to provide a paper detailing award of contract, at an early Assembly Commission meeting.
11.3 Rally Ireland
Mr Logue advised Members that agreement had been given by the Secretary of State to allow a rally event to take place in the Stormont Estate on Thursday 15 November 2007. Mr Good detailed the proposed itinerary for the day and for a practice event on 13 July 2007 and highlighted the requirement to manage disruption to traffic. It was agreed that a postmaster should issue all staff.
11.4 BIC Summit
Mr Evans gave details of the BIC summit being hosted at Parliament Buildings on 16 July 2007. Members agreed that similar security arrangements should be put in place to manage the event and that Parliament Buildings should be closed to the public on that day.
11.5 Voices of Hope Concert
Mr Logue advised Members that agreement had been given to host a ‘Voices of Hope’ concert, in the Stormont Estate, at the end of August 2007. It was agreed that Mr Logue should meet with the promoter to take forward the Commission’s view on the siting of the stage for this event.
11.6 David McKittrick Request
Mr Moir raised a request from Mr McKittrick to interview staff at the Assembly. Approval was agreed with the proviso that the Speaker would have sight of transcripts before publication.
11. DATE OF NEXT MEETING
It was agreed that the first meeting after Summer Recess would be held on Thursday 13 September 2007 at 10:00 am in room 106. It was further agreed that the Assembly Commission would re-convene to discuss the proposed Review in early August 2007.
The meeting ended at 10.20 am.
Clerk to the Assembly Commission