MINUTES OF THE TWENTY SEVENTH MEETING OF THE ASSEMBLY COMMISSION HELD ON THURSDAY 22 MAY 2008 AT 10:00 AM IN ROOM 106
Mr Stephen Moutray
Mr Paul Butler
Rev Robert Coulter
Apologies: Mr Sean Neeson and Mr Alban Maginness
In Attendance: Mrs C Devon, Mr T Logue, Ms C McGowan and Ms C Foster. Ms McClelland was present for Items 1 - 4. Mr Burrowes, Mr Rickard and Ms Dunwoody were present for Item 4.
MINUTES OF THE LAST TWO MEETINGS
Members agreed the minutes of the last two meetings held on 01 May and 14 May 2008.
2.1 Canada Visit
Mr Logue informed Members that he would be collating a report on the key learning points from the visit to Canada.
The Speaker also provided a brief overview and suggested that the report should be shared with all Parties to highlight the useful work undertaken. He also informed Members that Ms Leneghan was gathering further information following their meeting with the Economic Development Team from Nova Scotia.
The Speaker paid tribute to the Clerk to the Commission and his team in organising the arrangements for the visit which had proved to be a beneficial and worthwhile experience.
2.2 Economic Investment Conference
The interim Clerk/Director General paid tribute to Ms McClelland and her team for the success in supporting and managing the conference.
Mr Burrowes joined the meeting at 10.17am
Mr Rickard joined the meeting at 10.20am
CLERK’S MONTHLY REPORT
The Interim Clerk/Director General provided the Commission with an overview of her monthly report. She informed Members that she had attended the CLG meeting on 13 May to report on progress achieved on the implementation of the Secretariat Review. Ms Devon also reported that the Speaker had issued a response to a letter from Mr Griffin (TUS) addressing his issues around the possibility of internal promotions, the future arrangements post implementation team and the future of individuals on temporary promotion.
Ms Dunwoody joined the meeting at 10.35am
The Interim Clerk also drew Members’ attention to a press release by NIPSA relating to agency staff employed by the assembly. She provided Members with a copy of a letter which she issued to Mr Griffin highlighting her disappointment and outlining her belief that the article was contrary to the principles that the Commission were trying to adopt through the HR working group.
The Commission considered activities under each of the Strategic Priorities outlined. In relation to the Chamber upgrade, the Speaker highlighted how impressed he was with the microphone system used within the Canadian Parliaments Chamber. The Commission agreed that Ms McClelland should source further detail on the type of system used which could then be considered within the scope of the project.
Rev Coulter also suggested that in relation to incoming CPA delegations, it may be appropriate for the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Scottish Parliament to liaise with each other to consider joint hosting.
The Commission agreed that a press release should issue highlighting Eurest’s recent hygiene award achievement. Ms McClelland also informed Members that the Brasserie’s opening hours would be extended in June.
Following consideration of further activities, the Interim Clerk also drew attention to FOI disclosure section. She reported that legal opinion was of the view that the details of landlord names should be released. The Commission agreed that a two stage approach of contacting Party Leaders initially and then consider issuing advance notice to MLAs.
The Interim Clerk informed Members that the ‘Handbook on Assembly Commission Procedures’ was in final draft and would be brought for discussion at an early meeting.
Rev Coulter congratulated the interim Clerk/Director General on the detail of the report.
Mr Burrowes, Mr Rickard, Ms Dunwoody and Ms Mc Clelland left the meeting at 10.40am.
The Commission considered a paper proposing an increase to the weekly rate of Childcare Allowance offered to Members and Secretariat staff.
Following consideration of the proposed options, the Commission agreed to increase the weekly rate of Childcare Allowance with effect from 1 April 2008 to £36 for individuals with children under 5 and £18 for individuals with children aged between 5 and 14 years. The Commission further approved that this amount increase annually thereafter in line with the Retail Price Index.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
The Interim Clerk/Director General provided Members with an update in relation to a request from a Member to attend a ‘Conflict Resolution’ Conference. Following consideration of the guidelines provided by Finance, the Commission agreed that the costs of the conference were not eligible for claiming against OCA. The Commission agreed that a response should issue to the Member highlighting that his request does not meet the criteria outlined within the OCA scheme.
5.2 Commission Planning Day
Mr Logue reminded Members that they had agreed to an ‘Away Day’ to consider matters relating to Accommodation and Engagement. Members were content with outline and provisional dates given.
5.3 Changes to timings of Commission Meetings
Mr Logue reminded Members of their recent discussions during their visit to Canada relating to the timings of Commission meetings. Members agreed that a more suitable time would be on a Tuesday evening, 15 minutes after the House rises.
5.4 Management of Tours
Mr Moutray raised an issue from a party colleague relating to the management and access to the Assembly Chamber. He highlighted the particular circumstances of the event and the annoyance from the member concerned. The Speaker assured Mr Moutray that the matter would be explored and he would report back to him at an early meeting.
DATE OF NEXT MEETING
Tuesday 3 June, 15mins after House rises in Room 106.
The meeting ended at 11am.