MINUTES OF THE NINTH MEETING OF THE ASSEMBLY COMMISSION
HELD ON 18 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, Ms C Devon, Mr T Evans, Mr R Good, Mr F Duffy, Ms S McClelland and Ms C Foster
1. CHAIRMAN’S BUSINESS
The Speaker welcomed Ms Devon, the interim Clerk/Chief Executive to her first Assembly Commission meeting and extended a welcome to Mr Frank Duffy, the new Director of Implementation. On behalf of the Commission he stated that the group was looking forward to working with both new appointees in the coming weeks and months.
2. MINUTES OF LAST COMMISSION MEETING
The minutes of the eighth meeting held on 04 October 2007 were agreed.
3. MATTERS ARISING
3.1 Assembly Questions
Mr Logue drew Members’ attention to two responses to recent written questions and reported that a reply to a third question was currently being progressed.
3.2 Review of Security
Ms McClelland spoke to a paper which contained a draft Service Level Agreement (SLA) between the Assembly and PSNI. She outlined the key features of the SLA and referred to a set of Standing Orders for performance of duty of PSNI Officers at Parliament Buildings. Members agreed the draft document which will be reviewed in one year.
Mr Neeson asked about the external search facility. Ms McClelland reported on unexpected complications and explained that work was expected to be completed by Christmas.
3.3 Chamber Refurbishment
Ms McClelland reported on a recent meeting of the Chamber Refurbishment Working Group and detailed progress to date on proposed modifications to the Assembly Chamber. She reported that the group had procured an architect and had planned a number of visits to look at facilities in other Parliaments.
Following discussion, the Commission agreed that the Working Group should:
- engage with the BBC on positioning cameras and technical equipment;
- explore the proposal to install monitors in the visitors’ gallery area; and
- consider permitting journalists to bring laptops into the Press gallery.
It was further agreed that the Group initiate a procurement process for new broadcasting equipment.
There was discussion around installing an electronic voting system. Mr Butler expressed reservations about the proposal and Mr Neeson explained the security protection features that would be included in such an upgrade. Mrs Devon appraised the Commission on current Scottish Parliament practice. Mr Maginness pointed out that, although carried out in the Lobbies, voting was, in essence, already electronic. Ms McClelland agreed to make this point when discussing further with the Group and MLAs.
3.4 Rally Ireland
Ms McClelland directed Members to a paper which set out recent developments with regard to the forthcoming Rally Ireland event taking place in the Stormont Estate on 15 November 2007. It was agreed that a letter issue to all MLAs outlining arrangements and that Eurest be notified of service requirements for the day.
3.5 Smoking Facilities
A paper was tabled containing a proposal outlining some modifications to the smoking facility. Members agreed to consider the document and asked that the Keeper of the House bring back further models to a future meeting of the Commission.
3.6 NIAO Management Letter
Mr Evans informed the Commission that he had met with Whips to discuss non-compliance issues arising from the NIAO correspondence tabled at the last meeting.
Mr Duffy, Mr Evans, Ms McClelland, Ms Foster left the meeting at 10:40 am
The paper on a proposed review of procurement was held in abeyance pending the outcome of the Review of the Secretariat.
5. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
5.1 IT Post
Mr Logue confirmed that Mr Brendan O’Neill will replace Cait Byrne as the temporary Head of IT following his success in a recent promotion competition.
5.2 Recruitment of New Clerk / Chief Executive
Mr Logue informed Members on progress to date on the procurement process for the appointment of a new Clerk/ Chief Executive. He confirmed that there were 3 options for engaging with an external supplier to assist with the process. Following discussions it was agreed to select a single supplier from the OGC HR framework contract, given the time limitations involved in the process.
5.3 Section 75 Update: Language Considerations
Mr Logue explained that the Commission Office had received a request to provide its current draft Equality Scheme in the Irish language. Following discussion, it was agreed that translation could be pursued via the Assembly’s Hansard service.
5.4 General issues
Mr Moutray raised a number of issues. Firstly he expressed his concern at the amount of rubbish and debris in the upper west car park area. He also raised the issue of poor lighting in the lower east car park and the quality of the replacement table in room 21. Additionally issues were raised about the number of guests using the basement restaurant/members facilities during sitting days. The Speaker confirmed that he had written to a Member with regard to this issue.
Mr Butler also expressed concerns about members of the public making unsolicited approaches to Ministers and MLAs within Parliament Buildings. Mr Logue confirmed that there were protocols in place, agreed by the previous Commission. He agreed to re-visit these protocols and bring them at a future Commission meeting.
Mr Butler raised the issue of poor quality of existing photocopying equipment and suggested that it might be appropriate to review this provision.
Mr Maginness informed the Commission that the Minister for Social Development, Margaret Ritchie, would be writing to the Commission in connection with an incident which had occurred in Parliament Buildings.
5.5 Review of Planning Meeting: 16 October 2007
Mr Logue tabled a paper summarising progress in relation to the Commission’s objectives and corporate vision. Mr Hunter took Commission Members through the paper, highlighting the key findings. Commission Members agreed that the summary document was a true and accurate reflection of the planning evening on 16 October. It was further agreed that Mr Hunter could use the document to feed into the Review of the Secretariat.
10. DATE OF NEXT MEETING
The next meeting will be held on 23 October 2007 at 10.00 am in Room 106, specifically to consider the Capability Review section of the report from the Assembly Secretariat Review Team.
The meeting ended at 11:20 am
Clerk to the Assembly Commission