MINUTES OF THE FIFTEENTH MEETING OF THE ASSEMBLY COMMISSION HELD ON 13 DECEMBER 2007 AT 9.30 AM IN ROOM 106
Mr Stephen Moutray
Rev Robert Coulter
Mr Alban Maginness
Mr Sean Neeson
Mr Paul Butler
In Attendance: Mrs C Devon, Mr T Logue, Mr R Good and Mrs C McGowan. Mr B O Neill was present for Item 2.1. Ms McClelland, Mr D Lynn and Mr P McKenna were present for Item 4. Mr D Stelfox and Mr G Moore were also present for Item 4.
MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING
The minutes of the fourteenth meeting held on the 6 December 2007 were agreed.
- MATTERS ARISING
2.1 Remote Access
Mr O Neill provided Members with information relating to the remote access technologies deployed within the NI Assembly and the associated central provision of Broadband to Members.
Mr O Neill agreed to discuss the information separately with Mr Butler.
2.2 Car Parking
Ms McClelland provided the Commission with information in relation to the current car parking provision at the upper plateau car park. Ms McClelland proposed to survey the car parking on all working days, until the end of January.
Following discussion on the management of upper car parking, the Commission agreed that the survey be undertaken with an options paper on alternative layout to be brought to a future meeting.
Mr Maginness joined the meeting at 10.06am
The conservation architect from Consarc, Mr Dawson Stelfox provided the Commission with a presentation relating to the refurbishment of the Chamber.
Members of the Assembly Commission, Secretariat officials, Mr Dawson Stelfox and Mr Graeme Moore visited the Assembly Chamber to view a mock-up of the proposed plinth in front of the back benches.
Following discussion, the Commission requested further information relating to the development of the existing work tops, including the integration of the microphone system and the remodelling of the Speaker’s Desk. The Commission members agreed that work should continue on the installation of the plinth for the back benches, improvements to heating and audio, and changes to the step at the rear of the chamber to improve accessibility.
Mr Stewart joined the meeting at 10.40am
The Commission considered a substantive paper providing a comparative analysis of the various salary and allowances regimes operating across other legislatures.
The Commission asked for consideration to be given to an allowance for Whips and Chairs of Standing Committees and sought further information in relation to the pension benefits for Members who retire through ill health. Members also asked for consideration to be given to the inclusion of an allowance to cover visits to EU Institutions and Westminster.
The Clerk/DG agreed to provide a draft letter for the Commission to SSRB.
RECRUITMENT OF CLERK/DIRECTOR GENERAL
The Clerk/DG spoke to a paper outlining the process for the recruitment of the Clerk/Director-General and also highlighted the vacancies in relation to Director positions.
The Commission agreed that Capita RAS be appointed to handle the recruitment process in relation to the five vacancies. The Clerk/DG suggested that the Speaker sit on the panel for the recruitment of the Clerk/DG and that Commission Members sit on the respective sifting/interview panels for each of the Director posts, in line with their ‘portfolio’ arrangements.
The Commission agreed that training on criteria based interviewing should be undertaken by Members in the New Year.
INTERIM CLERK/DIRECTOR GENERAL MONTHLY REPORT
The Clerk/DG provided the Commission with an overview of her monthly report in relation to the Commission’s recently articulated strategic priorities. The Commission approved the guidance documents in relation to travel by members and accompanying staff on Assembly Business and the use of procurement cards for committee business and agreed that they issue to all Assembly Members;
The Commission Members noted the activities being undertaken in relation to outreach and engagement and noted that work to review the Assembly’s website was to be undertaken to procure a new website and intranet site.
Commission members expressed concern that the secondments of the SMB members had not yet been terminated by NICS and asked the Clerk/DG to press the NICS to bring these matters to an early conclusion.
The Commission also agreed the proposal that the Clerk/DG monthly report be published for information on the intranet.
UPDATE ON LITIGATION
The Commission noted a paper providing an update on the latest position relating to current and potential litigation cases within the Assembly Secretariat.
DATE OF NEXT MEETING
It was agreed that the next meeting of the Assembly Commission would be on Thursday 10 January at 10.00am in Room 106.
The meeting ended at 11.20am
Following the meeting , the Speaker presented two QUB students with certificates in recognition of their work on a twelve week internship programme within the Assembly Secretariat.