MINUTES OF THE EIGHTH MEETING OF
THE ASSEMBLY COMMISSION HELD
ON 04 OCTOBER 2007 AT 10:00 AM IN ROOM 106
Present: The Speaker
Mr Stephen Moutray
Mr Alban Maginness
Mr Sean Neeson
Rev Robert Coulter
Mr Paul Butler
In Attendance: Mr T Logue, Mr A Moir, Mr T Evans, Mr R Good, Ms C McGowan, Ms C Foster and Ms S McClelland (items 1-4)
1. CHAIRMAN’S BUSINESS
The Speaker highlighted to Members that this would be the Clerks last Commission meeting and took the opportunity to record the Commission’s gratitude to Mr Moir for his hard work and assistance in supporting the work of the corporate body.
2. MINUTES OF LAST COMMISSION MEETING
The minutes of the seventh meeting held on 20 September 2007 were agreed.
3. MATTERS ARISING
3.1 Written Assembly Questions
The Speaker drew Members’ attention to the seven responses to the Assembly Commission’s written questions.
The Speaker sought Members views on an additional question asked by Mr D McNarry MLA with regards to smoking facilities within Parliament Buildings. Following discussion, Ms McClelland highlighted the current smoking policy arrangements and agreed to prepare a paper looking at proposals for the provision of facilities for smokers.
3.2 Equal Pay Issues /Liaison with Trade Unions
Mr Evans informed Members that Ms Gillian Lyness had now been appointed as the full time Trade Union official within the Assembly Secretariat. He also updated Members on communication received from Trade Union side with regards to changes proposed to the Whitley Constitution and agreed to provide further detail at an early meeting.
Mr Evans also informed Members that he had met with Trade Union side to discuss the Security Review conducted in 2005. The Commission agreed that a sub-group of Equal Opportunities be set up on a joint basis with the Trade Union Side.
4. REVIEW OF SECURITY UPDATE
4.1 Ms McClelland provided the Commission with an update in relation to the implementation of recommendations made within the Review of Security in Parliament Buildings. In particular, Ms McClelland provided information in relation to progress achieved to date to:
The Service Level Agreement with PSNI;
The external search facility;
The control room upgrade;
The radio upgrade; and
The Glen East/West/ Control Room responsibility.
4.2 The Commission agreed that work on upgrading the control room should progress in conjunction with the PSNI to include to possible use of shared networks.
4.3 The Commission agreed that a feasibility study to be taken forward on resourcing solutions to East/West Glen and the control room.
4.4 Ms McClelland tabled a letter from Eurest seeking approval to amend the Support Services contract and Members agreed to the revised management proposals for cleaning.
4.5 The Speaker asked Ms McClelland to investigate the waiting times for food in the Members Dining Room.
4.6 Mr Maginness requested that consideration be given to the internal cleaning of windows located within the courtyard.
Ms McClelland left the meeting at 10.35am
5. PUBLICATION OF MEMBERS SALARIES / ALLOWANCES
5.1 The Assembly Commission agreed to the proposed timetable for the publication of Members’ salaries and allowances for 2006-2007.
5.2 Members agreed that an explanatory note on breakdown of allowances be included on the Web page and that a draft explanatory note on breakdown of allowances be provided for consideration at the next meeting.
6. NIAO MANAGEMENT LETTER / PARTY ALLOWANCES / OCAs
6.1 Mr Evans updated Members in relation to issues raised within the NIAO Report to those charged with governance 2006/07 and agreed to prepare an update paper on NIAO recommendations.
6.2 The Commission agreed that Mr Evans present details of the management letter to an early meeting of the Commission.
6.3 Rev Coulter raised the issue of the employment status of Party staff and sought clarification in light of a recent tribunal decision. Mr Evans agreed to prepare a paper outlining the employment relationship of Party support staff and the Corporate Body.
6.4 The Commission agreed that Mr Evans should meet on a one-to-one basis with Whips to outline the recommendations.
6.5 Following discussion, Members agreed that MLAs should be provided with instruction on level of detail required on expenses claims forms.
6.6 The Commission accepted that there was a need to consider adherence to the procedures, however, they did not accept that sanctions should be applied.
7. QUARTERLY MONITORING ROUND
7.1 The Assembly Commission discussed the update paper relating to the Assembly’s financial position prior to the submission of the September monitoring round return to DFP. Members agreed that no further surrender of funds is made in the current monitoring round.
7.2 Members also agreed that a further paper detailing forecast budgets for the next 3 – 4 years be produced for discussion at an early meeting.
Mr Moir and Mr Evans left the meeting at 11.00am
8. COMMISSION’S 2ND PLANNING DAY
8.1 The Commission Members agreed that the second Planning Day would take place on Tuesday 16 October.
9. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
9.1 Recruitment of Clerk/CEO
The Commission agreed that Mr Logue should initiate a procurement process for the appointment of an external agency to assist with the development and delivery of the recruitment strategy.
9.2 Capability Review
Members agreed to attend a Review Team briefing on Thursday 11 October in relation to progress on the Secretariat capability review.
9.3 Car Parking
Mr Moutray requested further information with regard to the use of appropriate identification on cars on the Upper Plateau during Sitting days.
10. DATE OF NEXT MEETING
Thursday 18 October 10.00 am in Room 106.
The meeting ended at 11:15 am