MINUTES OF THE
THE ASSEMBLY COMMISSION
AT 10:10AM IN ROOM 106
Present: The Speaker
Mr Stephen Moutray
Rev Robert Coulter
Mr Alban Maginness
Mr Sean Neeson
Apology: Mr Paul Butler
In Attendance: Mrs C Devon, Mr T Logue, Mr R Good, Mr F Duffy, Ms S McClelland, Mr M Rickard, Mr R Stewart, Ms C McGowan, Ms C Foster.
MINUTES OF THE LAST 4 MEETINGS
Members agreed the minutes of 13 February, 05 March, 06 March and 10 March 2008 meetings.
The Interim Clerk/Director General provided the Commission with an overview of her monthly report. She highlighted the progress achieved in the establishment of the external screening facility and associated perimeter security improvements and informed Members that the completion date had been set for early April 2008.
The Interim Clerk/Director General also informed Members that an update paper on progress achieved in relation to the implementation of the recommendations from the ‘Review of Security in Parliament Buildings’ would be made available to the next Commission meeting. Ms McClelland also informed the Commission that the security barriers at the east and west glen gates would be taken over by Assembly staff from the 1 April 2008. The Commission agreed that a postmaster should issue to all Members informing them of the progress achieved in this area.
STARTING PAY/RECRUITMENT ISSUES
Mr Duffy provided Members with background information in relation to the Assembly’s Commissions approval to accept recommendation 8 of the Assembly Review to create the establishment of an independent parliamentary service by 2010.
He highlighted that the separation programme would require a three staged approach. The first stage would be the completion of a recruitment programme to fill over 200 posts. Mr Duffy also highlighted the need for careful management of the transition to a fully staffed Secretariat. He advised that the second stage was the development of an interim starting pay policy to facilitate the recruitment programme and the final stage would give further consideration to longer term pay and grading issues.
Following discussion, the Speaker highlighted the need to keep MLA’s and staff informed and give assurance that the continuity in business delivery would not be affected. The Interim Clerk/Director General also updated the Commission on her recent discussions with Trade Union Side.
The Commission endorsed the recruitment programme outlined and agreed the Secretariat’s policy to manage staff resources during and following the recruitment programme. Members also approved the recommended approach in relation to the interim starting pay policy.
PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM FOR SENIOR STAFF
Mr Duffy spoke to a paper which outlined proposals for the introduction of a revised Performance Management System for Assembly Senior Staff.
Following consideration, the Commission agreed that negotiations should begin with a view to the Professional Skills for Government initiative being implemented for senior staff within the Assembly with effect from April 2008.
SSRB / OCA IMPLICATIONS
Mr Stewart spoke to a paper detailing a range of proposed areas where improvements in governance arrangements in respect of Members’ allowances could be made. The paper could be of use to Members in forming their discussion with the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) in early April.
Members discussed the areas highlighted in relation to the nature and extent of the regulations relating to Members’ allowances and agreed with the Speaker’s proposal that they take further time to consider the contents of the paper and report their comments back to Mr Logue by 1 April in advance of their meeting with SSRB. Specific comments from Members were noted by the Head of Finance.
The Commission also agreed that the Clerk to the Commission should write to Party Whips highlighting the process and providing details and timings for their Party evidence session on the 2 or 3 April. Members also agreed that a copy of paper from the Head of Finance should be attached to the letter for information.
Rev Coulter also suggested that the Clerk to the Standards and Privileges Committee should be approached for comment in relation to SSRB.
CORPORATE PLAN 2008 - 2011
The Clerk/Director General provided an overview of the approach taken to the development of the secretariat’s corporate plan for 2008 - 2011 using the ‘balanced scorecard’ methodology.
Members agreed to consider the corporate objectives and measures for success outlined within the document for discussion and approval at the next Commission meeting.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
7.1 Questions for Written Answer
Mr Logue tabled a list of thirteen questions to the Assembly Commission for written answer. The Commission considered the draft responses to the three questions for priority written answer from Mr O’Dowd and agreed the definition of ‘cross community support’ in relation to the booking of events in Parliament Buildings.
Mr Neeson noted his discontent with the restrictions placed on the photography of events within Parliament Buildings.
7.2 Correspondence from the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group
Mr Maginness asked if the Commission had received any correspondence from the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group in regard to the removal of the principal clerk positions. The Interim Clerk/ Director General informed Members that the correspondence had not been sent directly to the Commission. She agreed that a copy of the letter would be copied for Members information at the next meeting.
The Interim Clerk/ Director General also informed the Commission that she intended to attend the next meeting of the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group.
7.3 Litigation Update
Mr Logue provided members with an update in relation to the meeting with Legal Counsel on 13 March 2008.
DATE OF NEXT MEETING(S)
The next two meetings of the Assembly Commission will be held as follows:
Wed 02 April 2008 at 10:00 am in room 29 - (meeting with SSRB sub-group);
and again on -
Thursday 03 April 2008 at 10:00 am in room 106.
The meeting ended at 11:35 am