MINUTES OF THE
THE ASSEMBLY COMMISSION
AT 10:00AM IN ROOM 106
Present: The Speaker
Mr Stephen Moutray
Mr Paul Butler
Rev Robert Coulter
Mr Alban Maginness
Mr Sean Neeson
In Attendance: Mrs C Devon, Mr T Logue, Mr R Good, Mr H Widdis,Ms C McGowan and Ms C Foster.
Mr A Attwood and Ms D Kelly were in attendance for item 2. Mr F Duffy was in attendance for items 1 - 3. Ms McClelland was in attendance for items 4-10.Ms N Dunwoody, Mr M Rickard, Mr S Burrowes were in attendance for items 5-10.
MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING
The minutes of the last meeting held on Wednesday 19 March 2008 were agreed.
10:20 Mr Attwood and Mrs Kelly joined the meeting
MEETING WITH MR ALEX ATTWOOD
The Speaker welcomed Mr Alex Attwood and Ms Dolores Kelly to the meeting and explained that the Commission would be unable to discuss any aspects which were currently the subject of a judicial review.
Mr Attwood raised the following issues:
- His view that morale was declining within the Secretariat;
- The potential impact that grade restructuring has had on the organisation by way of a loss of knowledge and skills;
- The appropriateness of testing and the outcome of on-going recruitment competitions;
- The appropriateness and use of NICS (former and current) staff to conduct and implement the Review of the Assembly Secretariat.
Mr Attwood reflected that the Commission had an obligation to address each of the aforementioned issues.
The Speaker, Interim Clerk/Director General and other senior officials responded to each point on behalf of the Commission and thanked Mr Attwood and Mrs Kelly for their contribution to the meeting.
Mr Attwood and Mrs Kelly left the meeting at 11:40 am
RECRUITMENT OF DIRECTORS
Mr Duffy provided Members with an update on progress to date on the recruitment of the Management Board. Members agreed the final composition of the interview panels for the Director posts.
The Commission agreed to delegate authority to the Interim Clerk/ Director General to appoint each successful Director to the Management Board without a further referral to the Commission.
Mr Moutray highlighted concerns in relation to Capita’s performance throughout the process. The Interim Clerk/Director General confirmed these concerns and informed the Commission that she would be meeting with Mr Widdis and Mr Duffy to review how Capita had managed the recruitment contract.
Mrs McClelland entered the meeting at 11:55 am
REVIEW OF SECURITY
Ms McClelland spoke to a paper which provided an update on progress on the implementation of the recommendations from the Security review. Members noted progress to date and agreed with a proposal to defer the implementation of a number of recommendations originally cited in the Security Report.
Members also considered the use of CCTV and agreed that coverage should be provided to cover vulnerable areas within the building.
Ms McClelland appraised the Commission that the work to erect the external search facility at Parliament Buildings was almost complete. It was confirmed that a postmaster would issue informing everyone of the new security system for entering Parliament Buildings. Members were invited to view the facility after the Assembly Commission meeting ended.
Mr Butler left the meeting at 12:00 noon
CLERK’S MONTHLY REPORT
The Interim Clerk/Director General referred to the Clerk’s Monthly Report and provided further updates in relation to:
- the organisation’s interim structure;
- the arrangements being put in place post-implementation;
- arrangements for 8 May 2008;and
- matters relating to the procurement of the external search facility.
The Interim Clerk/Director General informed members of the anticipated increase in Office Costs Allowances and Members’ Allowances and reported that an advice notice would issue via Finance section in due course.
The Interim Clerk/Director General spoke to a paper which set out a terms of reference and proposals for appointing non executive members to the Secretariat’s Audit Advisory Committee. The Commission:
- agreed the composition of a reconstituted Audit Advisory Committee as set out in the paper;
- agreed the remuneration of non-executive members of the Audit Committee;
- endorsed the revised Terms of Reference;
- agreed proposals for the timing and identification of a non-executive member of the Management Board; and
- noted the progress on other audit related recommendations arising from the Review of the Secretariat.
VISIT TO CANADA
Mr Logue tabled a draft programme for the Commission’s forthcoming visit to the Canadian Parliament and gave a brief outline of the itinerary. The Speaker asked that Members filter any revisions via the Commission support office.
Mr Logue referred to the latest draft Corporate Plan and the Speaker commented on the work contained therein. Members agreed that the plan should be printed and distributed.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
9.1 European Parliamentary Research Initiative
Rev Coulter directed Members to a paper contained in Members’ packs summarising this event and appraised Members’ of his participation in the initiative.
Mr Maginness left the meeting at 12:30 pm
9.2 Assembly Commission Questions
Mr Logue informed members about six Oral Questions due for response on 28 April 2008. Mr Logue agreed to speak to members separately with regard to giving responses to the Questions in the Chamber.
9.3 Youth Debate and President of European Parliament Requests
The Interim Clerk/Director spoke to a paper requesting the use of the Assembly Chamber to host a youth debate. It was proposed that the Speaker or Deputy Speakers should be involved on occasions when the chamber is being used and it was agreed that this request be permitted subject to further liaison with OFMDFM, with the view to joint hosting between OFMDFM and the Assembly.
The Speaker informed members that he had received a request from the President of the European Parliament offering to address the Assembly, and proposed that this address should take place in the Chamber though not as part of Assembly business. Following discussion this request was agreed.
9.4 Belfast Telegraph Correspondence
Mr Logue tabled correspondence relating to the Belfast Telegraph’s ‘Open Stormont’ campaign detailing five proposals on expenses related issues. Mr Neeson also informed the Commission that this correspondence had been copied to Parties. The Commission agreed that a reply should be drafted to Mr Gordon highlighting the Commission’s previous engagement of SSRB on related matters.
9.5 Broadcast Equipment Contract
Mr Rickard tabled a paper relating to progress on the project to renew the broadcasting equipment within the Chambers.
Members noted that a formal evaluation of the tenders would take place on the 18 April with recommendations to award the contract being put before the Commission at their next meeting.
Mr Rickard assured Members that although timescales were tight, the quality and rigor of the process would not be affected.
9.6 Photography at Parliament Buildings
Mr Neeson commented on the current policy relating to taking photographs in Parliament Buildings. The Interim Clerk/Director General explained that a paper on this issue was scheduled to be brought forward to the next Commission meeting.
9.7 Weekly Information Bulletin
Mr Moutray asked if consideration was being given to issuing the weekly Information bulletin in a way which was more compatible with the Assembly’s aim to reduce their carbon footprint. Ms Dunwoody explained that Members had been previously surveyed on this issue but that this could be followed up. Mr Rickard appraised members of the on-going review of all printing/publishing of Assembly documentation.
The Speaker concluded the meeting by inviting Members to join in presenting certificates to the Student Interns who had recently completed their twelve week internship programme.
Members were also invited to view the new external search facility.
DATE OF NEXT MEETING
The next meeting of the Assembly Commission will be held on Thursday 24 April 2008 at 10:00 in room 106
The meeting ended at 12:45 pm