MINUTES OF THE SEVENTEENTH MEETING
THE ASSEMBLY COMMISSION
HELD ON 17 JANUARY 2008
AT 10.00 AM IN ROOM 106
Mr Stephen Moutray
Mr Alban Maginness
Mr Paul Butler
Mr Sean Neeson
Rev Robert Coulter
Mrs C Devon, Mr T Logue and Mrs C McGowan. Mr Colin Welch, Mr Stephen Smith and Mr E McGoldrick were present for Item 5.
1. MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING
The minutes of the sixteenth meeting held on the 10 January 2008 were agreed.
2. Interim Clerk/Director General’s Report
The Interim Clerk/DG provided an overview of her report and highlighted the current position in relation to the implementation of the Secretariat Review. She also informed members that letters of delegation of functions and financial responsibility had now been issued to the Directors.
The Interim Clerk/DG highlighted that she had become aware of concerns from staff in relation to possible changes to their secondment arrangements. She informed the Commission that a number of ‘Q & A’ sessions were planned with staff this week with a view to clarifying the position of secondees and providing a further update on implementation issues. The Commission agreed that the Interim Clerk/DG should write to Central Personnel Group seeking approval to extend secondments up to the end of 2009/10.
Members endorsed the ‘Fresh Start’ publication as a useful communication strategy for updating Secretariat staff. Members also agreed that Commission Papers would be made available, by close of play, on the Monday preceding the Commission meeting.
3. SSRB review of Members’ salaries etc
Members approved the submission to the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) in respect of the on-going review of Members’ salaries and allowances and agreed that the Speaker write to the Chair of the SSRB, as proposed.
4. Assembly Commission Oral Questions
Members considered the responses to the questions for oral answer and agreed which Commission members would be answering the questions at Plenary on Monday 21 January.
Mr Neeson provided members with an update of his recent interview on ‘Stormont Live’ and the comments raised by Mr Sammy Wilson MLA in relation to the amount of paper used within Parliament Buildings. The Interim Clerk/DG informed the Commission that the new Corporate Plan had an objective within it on developing a sustainable strategy for the Secretariat.
5. Recruitment of Clerk/DG – presentation from Capita RAS
The Commission considered a paper in relation to progress on the recruitment of the Clerk/Director-General and Director posts. The Commission agreed the timeline for the recruitment of the positions and approved the content and costs of the advert to recruit the Clerk/Director-General.
The Speaker welcomed Mr Colin Welch and Mr Stephen Smith from Capita RAS to the meeting. Mr Welch and Mr Smith convened a discussion with Members to identify the competencies, skills and personal attributes necessary for the post of Clerk/Director-General and the Director posts.
Mr Colin Welch, Mr Stephen Smith and Mr E McGoldrick left the meeting.
6. Any Other Business
6.1 Landlord / Tenant FOI request
The Interim Clerk/DG informed the Commission that she was still awaiting advice in relation to the matter and would bring this back to the Commission.
6.2 Assembly Portraits
Following discussion, the Commission agreed to defer the commissioning of further portraits until additional research was undertaken, with a more substantive paper to be brought to an early meeting of the Commission. Members agreed that the policy paper should also consider the issue of ‘Good Relations’ in relation to the display of paintings/photographs within Parliament Buildings.
6.3 Exhibition Request
The Interim Clerk/DG provided the Commission with information on a request for an exhibition within the Long Gallery entitled ‘Out of the Darkness’. The Interim Clerk/DG informed Members that the proposed exhibition would run for three weeks and was a collection of photographs representing life in Northern Ireland over the past 40 years.
The Commission agreed that the exhibition should take place but that there was a need to ensure that the photographs would not have the potential to offend any persons attending events in the Long Gallery. It was agreed that Mr Good and Ms McClelland would meet with Mr J Harrison to highlight their concerns and ask that he be mindful in his selection of the photographs for display.
6.4 Commission Visits
The Speaker suggested that in line with the number of new strategies developing out of the implementation of the Review, and with particular focus on the areas of accommodation and outreach, that the Commission might consider a visit to meet the corporate body within the Oireachtas. The Commission agreed to the visit in principle and asked that Mr Logue draw up a draft agenda and possible dates for consideration.
The Speaker asked Members to note that the 10 May 2008 was now a provisional date for the Commission’s visit to the Canadian Parliament.
6.5 Support Services Contract
Mr Moutray informed Members that he had received complaints from party colleagues in relation to the standard of food within the basement restaurant. The Interim Clerk/DG agreed to raise the matter with Ms McClelland and suggested that Eurest management should be invited to an early meeting to discuss Commission members’ concerns.
7. DATE OF NEXT MEETING
It was agreed that the next meeting of the Assembly Commission would be on Thursday 31 January at 10.00am in Room 106.
The meeting ended at 11.45am