MINUTES OF THE FORTY FIRST MEETING OF THE ASSEMBLY COMMISSION HELD ON TUESDAY 10 MARCH 2009 AT 6.10PM IN ROOM 106
Mr Stephen Moutray
Mr Paul Butler
Rev Dr Robert Coulter
Mr Alban Maginness
Mr Sean Neeson
Mr T Reaney, Mr T Logue, Dr G McGrath, Mr S Welch, Mr J Stewart, Mr R Good and Ms C McGowan. Mr D McClarty and Mr J Wells were present for Items 1 – 3. Mr R Stewart was present for Items 4.2 – 10. Ms Kiera Duddy was present for Items 1 – 6.
1. CHAIRMAN’S BUSINESS
The Speaker sought any declarations of interest from the Commission in relation to items of business being discussed. All Members noted their interest in relation to being future recipients of the Pension Scheme. There were no further disclosures.
2. MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING
The minutes of the meeting held on the 24 February 2009 were agreed.
3. NORTHERN IRELAND ASSEMBLY PENSION SCHEME
The Speaker welcomed Mr David McClarty MLA, Chairman of the Pension Trustees and Mr Jim Wells MLA to the meeting. Mr McClarty spoke to a paper which detailed a proposed amendment to the Assembly Members’ Pension Scheme (NI) 2008. Mr McClarty outlined the current position in relation to the operation of the Scheme and informed the Commission that the change is proposed on a cost neutral basis.
Mr McClarty on behalf of the Pension Trustees proposed:
- that the accrual rate for the Members’ Pension Scheme be increased from 1/50 th to 1/40 th of the final salary for each year of service, with effect from 1 April 2009; and
- that the higher accrual rate and increased Member contribution of 11.5% be accepted as the default position from 1 April 2009 with an opt-out for Members who wish to revert to the lower rate of 1/50 th.
Mr McClarty and Mr Wells left the meeting.
The Commission agreed to defer final consideration until the next meeting to allow for Members to consult with their parties on the proposals.
4. MATTERS ARISING
Rev Coulter joined the meeting.
4.1 Engagement Road Show Update
The Director of Engagement provided the Commission with an update in relation to the upcoming Assembly Road Show.
Members discussed the recent take note debate on the Engagement Strategy and agreed that questions raised which were not answered, should now receive a written response.
Mr Stewart joined the meeting .
4.2 NIA Internet Connection
The Director of Resources informed the Commission that the IS Office would test the new link and the configuration of the equipment, with a view to making the switchover during the coming weekend.
5. REVIEW OF ASSEMBLY CORPORATE PLAN 2008 - 11
The Clerk/Director General drew Members attention to his submission relating to the development of the draft revised Corporate Plan for 2008 – 11. The Commission noted the approach to business planning as outlined by the Clerk/Director General and agreed the five Strategic Priorities.
The Clerk/Director General informed the Commission that financial requirements relating to the resources required to deliver the plan would be updated. Following consideration, the Commission approved the draft Revised Corporate Plan for 2008/2011 and agreed that it now be screened in accordance with Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.
6. SSRB RECOMMENDATIONS
The Clerk/Director General provided a further paper relating to the recommendations arising from the Review Body on Senior Salaries Report on the Review of Pay, Pensions and Allowances in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
The Commission gave consideration to each of the recommendations arising from the Report, considered legal advice and agreed that a further paper should be developed for their consideration, incorporating Members consideration of the issues.
Mr Sean Neeson and Mr Alban Maginness left the meeting.
Ms Kiera Duddy left the meeting.
7. INFORMATION ASSURANCE – PROTECTIVE MARKING
Mr Logue spoke to a paper which outlined a policy in respect of all matters concerning the use, storage and transfer of information. Mr Logue also informed the Commission that the adoption of the policy would establish a protective marking system to ensure the appropriate application of protective measures is applied to information requiring safeguard.
The Director of Clerking and Reporting informed the Commission that he would be taking the paper to the next meeting of the Chairperson’s Liaison Group to ensure the application of protective marking, given to papers submitted to Assembly Committees, is appropriate.
Following further discussion, the Commission agreed to the adoption of the protective marking policy. It was noted that a number of operational issues would now be addressed. Members also agreed that further consideration should be given to the development of clear desk and clear screen policies, pending the outcome of a storage audit. It was further agreed that training should be progressed for selected personnel to ensure compliance with the policy.
Rev Coulter sought clarification in relation to the destruction of Assembly documentation and was advised by the Clerk/Director General that procedures were being considered in relation to the development of a retention and disposal policy.
8. DEFENSIVE VENUE SEARCHING
Mr Butler raised an issue in relation to the addendum to the Service Level Agreement with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). The Commission noted the detail of the addendum to the Service Level Agreement with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in relation to procedures to be adopted by the PSNI before, during and after any VIP or VVIP visit to Parliament Buildings.
9. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
9.1 Legal Services – Litigation
The Speaker referred to a recent request from Mr Butler relating to the support provided to the Commission with regard to handling litigation and noted the paper submitted by the Director of Legal Services to that effect.
9.2 Secretariat Audit and Risk Committee
The Speaker confirmed that Mr Alan McQuillan had been appointed as the Chairperson of the Secretariat Audit and Risk Committee and Mr Colm McKenna as the independent member.
9.3 Visit by Canadian Delegation
Mr Logue reminded Members that a delegation from the Canadian Parliament would be visiting the Northern Ireland Assembly on 14th March 2009 and that the Commission would be hosting a dinner on Monday 16th March 2009.
10. DATE OF NEXT MEETING
The next meeting of the Assembly Commission to be arranged.
The meeting ended at 7.55pm