MINUTES OF THE FIFTY NINTH MEETING OF THE ASSEMBLY COMMISSION HELD ON TUESDAY 15 JUNE 2010 IN ROOM 106
Mr Stephen Moutray
Mr Pat Doherty
Rev Dr Robert Coulter
Mr Sean Neeson
Mr Pat Ramsey
In Attendance: Mr T Reaney, Mr T Logue and Ms C McGowan. Mr A McQuillan was present for Items 3 – 5.
1. DECLARATION OF INTEREST
The Speaker sought any declarations of interest from the Commission in relation to items of business being discussed. Members declared an interest in relation to matters relating to the financial support and pensions for Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
2. CHAIRMAN’S BUSINESS
The Speaker highlighted that this was a special meeting of the Commission to take forward matters relating to the financial support and pensions for Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
3. FINANCIAL SUPPORT AND PENSIONS FOR MEMBERS OF THE NORTHERN IRELAND ASSEMBLY
The Clerk/Director General highlighted that this matter had been broken down into three separate areas, namely;
3.1 Draft Report on the Financial Support and Pensions for Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly
The Clerk/Director General updated Members on progress achieved in the development of the Commission Report on the Financial Support and Pensions for Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly. Mr Doherty suggested that consideration should be given to the use of Land and Property Services in relation to the independent assessment of MLAs’ constituency offices.
Following further detailed discussions in relation to the key issues and recommendations within the Report, the Commission approved the Report and Draft Determination and agreed the associated Motion for Plenary for week commencing Monday 28 June 2010.
Mr McQuillan joined the meeting.
The Commission further agreed that the Report would issue to Members on Thursday 24 June, under an embargo until the time of the debate and that an embargoed press briefing would follow later that day with the Stormont Correspondents Group.
3.2 Draft Financial Support for Members’ Handbook
The Clerk/Director General drew Members attention to the draft Financial Support for Members’ Handbook which included those issues involving changes relating to governance and administration and which did not require any legislative effect.
Commission Members raised a number of points requiring clarification. The Handbook would be considered further with a view to obtaining official sign-off from the Commission at the next meeting on 22 June 2010.
3.3 Briefing for Second Stage of the Allowances to Members of the Assembly (Repeal) Bill
The Director of Legal Services provided Members with an update in relation to progress of the Allowances to Members of the Assembly (Repeal) Bill. The Commission thanked Rev Coulter for introducing the Bill.
The Director provided Members with a ‘briefing pack’ to assist their contributions during the plenary debate in relation to the Bill scheduled for second stage on Monday 21 and consideration stage on Tuesday 22 June 2010. Mr Widdis advised the Commission that Rev Coulter, himself and Mr Logue would be attending the Finance and Personnel Committee meeting on the 16 June 2010 to discuss the Commission’s request for accelerated passage and would brief Members on the discussions held.
The Director of Legal Services informed the Members that he had held discussions with officials from the Committee on Standards and Privileges in relation to the development of a Bill to appoint a Commissioner for Standards and proposed that the Commission consider the inclusion of this matter within the Bill to establish the Independent Statutory Body. Commission Members noted the benefits in relation to the legislative timetable and agreed that the matter should be further explored with the relevant officials for discussion at a future meeting.
4. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
4.1 Car Parking
Mr Doherty highlighted the continued problems being experienced by staff in relation to car-parking on sitting days. The Clerk/Director General assured the Commission that discussions were on-going with DFP officials, with a meeting scheduled between the Director of Facilities/Keeper of the House on the matter this week and that an update would be provided at the earliest opportunity.
The Clerk/Director General noted that correspondence had been sent to a number of Commission Members in relation to a contract tender process. The Clerk/Director General advised Members to forward their copies of correspondence to the Head of the Commission Support and Compliance Unit.
4.3 Meeting with the North-South Parliamentary Forum Working Group from the Oireachtas
The Head of the Commission Support and Compliance Unit provided Members with the detail of the programme in relation to the visit by the North-South Parliamentary Forum Working Group from the Oireachtas and agreed that a discussion paper would be made available prior to the meeting on Monday 21 June 2010.
5. DATE OF NEXT MEETING
The next meeting of the Assembly Commission was agreed for Tuesday 22 June, at 2pm in Room 106.
The meeting ended at 8.45 pm
Clerk to the Assembly Commission