MINUTES OF THE THIRTY FIRST MEETING OF THE ASSEMBLY COMMISSION HELD ON TUESDAY 1 JULY 2008 AT 10.00AM IN ROOM 106
Mr Stephen Moutray
Mr Alban Maginness
Mr Paul Butler
Mr Sean Neeson
Rev Robert Coulter
Mrs C Devon, Mr T Logue, Mr H Widdis, Mr R Good, Ms S McClelland and Ms C McGowan. Mr Stewart was present for Item 8. Mr Rickard was present for Item 9.
1. MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING
The minutes of the last meeting held on 24 June 2008 were agreed.
2. MATTERS ARISING
2.1 Ormiston House
Ms McClelland provided Members with an update in relation to the Ormiston House site. She informed Members that a final draft report from the consultants would be available this week and copied to Members during the summer recess.
3. DISABILITY ACTION PLAN
Mr Logue spoke to a paper providing the Commission with an update on the development of the Disability Action Plan and the further actions required to meet commitments contained within the plan.
Following consideration, the Commission agreed that the table of responses should be published and stakeholders and contacts notified of the outcome. It was further agreed that the revised Disability Action Plan should be forwarded to the Equality Commission and updated on AssISt for staff information.
4. COMMISSION MEMBERS’ HANDBOOK
The Commission approved the draft handbook and proposed amendments to Section 3 of the document. It was further agreed that prior to publication, a letter would issue from the Commission Office to all independent assembly members or members of political parties not represented on the Commission confirming to whom they had allocated their vote.
5. ASSEMBLY MEMBERS’ PENSION SCHEME (NI) 2000
The Commission approved the amendments to the Assembly Members Pension Scheme (NI) 2000 as confirmed by the Assembly on the 30 June and agreed that it be forwarded for formal publication.
The Commission also agreed that a letter should be drafted highlighting key issues with regard to the schemes impact and detailing relevant contact information.
The Commission paid tribute to the staff involved in ensuring that the amendments were agreed prior to the summer recess.
6. OUTCOME OF ASSEMBLY COMMISSION AWAY DAY
Mr Good provided Members with a review of their discussions held at the Commission off-site meeting on Thursday 5 and Friday 6 June 2008. He highlighted that discussions focused primarily on engagement and accommodation issues.
Following further discussion in relation to accommodation, it was agreed that the Commission office would organise a visit to Stormont House and that Mr Widdis would explore the legalities surrounding ownership in relation to the property.
The Commission confirmed they were content with the list of actions resulting from their deliberations and agreed that they be progressed as outlined.
7. GOOD RELATIONS WORKING GROUP
Mr Logue outlined proposals for progressing the development of a Good Relations Policy and an associated implementation strategy for the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission.
The Commission agreed in principle with the recommendations of the paper and agreed that Mr Logue give further consideration to the composition of the working group.
Mr Stewart joined the meeting at 11.05am
8. MEMBERS SALARIES AND ALLOWANCES
Mr Stewart provided Members with information in relation to the publication of the details of Members Salaries and Allowances.
The Commission agreed the proposed timetable for publication and approved the inclusion of additional information relating to Members’ Office Costs Allowance.
Mr Stewart left the meeting at 11.15am
Mr Rickard joined the meeting at 11.15am
9. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
9.1 Broadcasting Contract
Mr Rickard spoke to a paper highlighting proposals for extending the existing broadcasting contract within the Assembly. Following consideration, the Commission agreed to extend the Assembly’s contract for broadcasting services with Pi Communications for a further year until August 2010.
9.2 Contingency Planning
The Commission agreed that the contingency planning exercise progress over the summer recess.
9.3 Stormont Correspondents Group
The Commission noted the progress achieved in relation to engagement with the Press.
10. DATE OF NEXT MEETING
To be arranged after Recess.
The meeting ended at 11.30am.