Minutes of Proceedings
WEDNESDAY, 23 MAY 2007
Room 152, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Mitchel McLaughlin (Chairperson)
Mervyn Storey (Deputy Chairperson)
Dr Stephen Farry
Alan Patterson (Principal Clerk)
Shane McAteer (Assembly Clerk)
Vivien Ireland (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Colin Jones (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Paul Woods (Clerical Supervisor)
Mary Thompson (Clerical Officer)
Dr Peter Gilleece (Assembly Research)
The meeting commenced at 10.05am in open session.
Apologies are detailed above.
Draft Minutes of Proceedings 16 May 2007
These were agreed for publication on the Assembly website.
Members considered a letter from Bruce Robinson, Second Permanent Secretary of the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP), regarding progress with expenditure on Priority Funding Packages, and which set out the position as of February this year in relation to overall amounts available and forecast spend for each of these packages.
Agreed – that the Clerk to the Committee would write to DFP requesting the final year-end position on the Priority Funding Packages, when available, together with information in respect of any underspend.
Dr Farry proposed that DFP be asked to provided a copy of the ‘Cost of Division – Shared Future Strategy’ commissioned by Deloitte and Touché once it becomes available.
Agreed that the Clerk to the Committee will request DFP to provide a copy of the report ‘Cost of Division – Shared Future Strategy’ together with clarification on any related responsibilities falling to DFP.
Members noted the revised work programme which would be updated weekly and included on the Committee website.
The Committee noted advice from DFP on several studies which are underway on the issue of absenteeism in the Northern Ireland Civil Service. This work would be concluded by September, at which time DFP would be in a position to apprise the Committee of developments.
Agreed that the issue of absenteeism would be scheduled into the Committee work programme for after summer recess.
Briefing on the Budget Bill ( Northern Ireland) 2007
Members were briefed by the Clerk to the Committee on the procedure for accelerated passage of budget bills through the Assembly.
The Committee took evidence on the consultation which had taken place on the Budget Bill (NI) 2007. The witnesses included Leo O’Reilly, Budget Director, Central Finance Group, DFP and Richard Pengelly, Head of Central Expenditure Division, DFP. The session was recorded by Hansard for publication on the Committee website.
The Chairperson put the motion: that the Committee for Finance and Personnel is satisfied that there has been appropriate consultation with it on the public expenditure proposals contained in the Budget Bill (NI) 2007 and is content to grant accelerated passage to the Bill in accordance with Standing Order 40(2).
The motion was agreed.
Agreed – Letter to the Speaker to be issued notifying him of the Committee’s decision on accelerated passage as well as setting out the context in which the decision had been taken.
Mr Storey left the meeting at 10.50am.
Members considered a draft submission from the Committee to Sir David Varney in relation to his Review of Taxation Policy and Economic Growth.
Agreed - that the Clerk to the Committee will circulate the submission, including the agreed amendments, to Members in advance of the meeting with Sir David Varney. The Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the Committee will take the lead in presenting the submission at the meeting.
Agreed - that six Members will attend the meeting on 25 May. Apologies were received from Ms Purvis, Mr Weir, Ms McCann, Mr McQuillan and Mr McCann.
Rating – Land and Property Services
The Committee received a briefing from Assembly Research Service on the Implementation of Changes to Domestic Rates in NI.
Agreed – that Dr Gilleece will follow up on issues regarding capping on rates, raised by Dr Farry, and on the issue of Northern Ireland’s comparative position in respect of tax revenue as a percentage of GDP, which was raised by Mr Beggs.
Mr O’Loan left the meeting at 11.50am.
The Committee heard evidence from John Wilkinson, Chief Executive, Land and Property Services and Alan Bronte, Director of Domestic Assessment and Rating Services on operational implications of the new rating system. The session was recorded by Hansard.
Dr Farry declared an interest as a member of North Down Borough Council.
The Committee deliberated on a range of issues associated with the implementation of the new rating system and including the importance of Land and Property Service setting targets to address the 16,500 outstanding reviews received.
Agreed – The Clerk to the Committee will write to DFP seeking further clarification on a range of issues discussed by members.
Draft Press Release
Agreed – the press release was agreed to issue as amended.
The Committee noted correspondence from ‘Children in Northern Ireland’.
The Committee noted correspondence from the Minister, Rt. Hon. Peter Robinson MP, on the Statistics and Registration Bill.
Any other Business
Agreed – that the Committee accepts an offer from DFP officials for an informal briefing for Members on the annual financial/budget process.
Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 30 May 2007 at 10.00am in Room 152 Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.44pm.
Mitchel McLaughlin Chairperson,
Committee for Finance and Personnel.
23 May 2007.