MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
WEDNESDAY, 5 SEPTEMBER 2007
Room 152, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (Chairperson)
Mervyn Storey MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Roy Beggs MLA
Dr Stephen Farry MLA
Simon Hamilton MLA
Fra McCann MLA
Adrian McQuillan MLA
Declan O’Loan MLA
Dawn Purvis MLA
Peter Weir MLA
Alan Patterson (Principal Clerk)
Shane McAteer (Assembly Clerk)
Vivien Ireland (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Colin Jones (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Paula Sandford (Clerical Supervisor)
Paul Woods (Clerical Supervisor)
Mary Thompson (Clerical Officer)
Jennifer McCann MLA
The meeting commenced at 10.06am in open session.
Apologies are detailed above.
Draft Minutes of Proceedings 4 July 2007
Agreed: for publication on the Assembly website.
Members noted that, as previously agreed, the extract from the draft minutes relating to the Committee’s consideration of its First Report on Workplace 2010 and Location of Public Sector Jobs, had been approved by the Chairperson and included in the Committee Report.
Members noted that the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) report on the further evaluation of the Clare House pilot would not now be available until mid-December 2007, and that the updated specification of requirements requested in relation to the Workplace 2010 contract would not be available for a further 3 weeks.
Agreed: to seek further information on the NISRA report at the briefing from Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) officials later in the meeting.
Members noted the information from DFP on its responsibilities for implementing the Shared Future Report.
Members noted the Northern Ireland Executive’s submission to the Varney Review of Tax Policy.
Members noted the update from DFP on the Value for Money studies being carried out as part of the preparations for the Comprehensive Spending Review.
Members noted the key dates, provided by DFP, in taking forward the Budget 2007 process. It was noted that, whilst these dates may be subject to change, the current timetable would necessitate the Committee’s Report on the Draft Budget being agreed prior to the Christmas recess.
Members noted the Priorities and Budget guidance, issued by DFP to departments in March 2007.
Members considered a proposal for the Committee to host an information seminar for all MLAs and relevant Assembly Secretariat staff, to include presentations from senior DFP officials on the Assembly’s role in the budget process.
Agreed: that, subject to the agreement of DFP, the seminar will be arranged for Monday 17 September in the Senate Chamber, and will be completed before the commencement of plenary business.
Members considered a request from DFP officials for the briefing on Workplace 2010 and Public Sector Jobs Location to be held in closed session, due to the delicate commercial process to be discussed.
Agreed: that the subsequent briefing would be held in closed session.
The meeting continued in closed session at 10.17am.
DFP Briefing on the Department’s Response to the Committee Report on Workplace 2010 and Public Sector Jobs Location
Members noted the Department’s response to the Committee’s Report, together with related correspondence.
The Committee was briefed by Chris Thompson, Director of Corporate Services Group and Michael Donnelly, Workplace 2010 Strategic Advisor.
Members noted that NISRA’s report on the second evaluation of the Clare House pilot would be available to the Committee in December 2007.
Dr Farry declared an interest as a member of North Down Borough Council.
Agreed: that officials would provide further detail on the criteria used to select the sample of NICS buildings for valuation by an independent valuer.
Agreed: that further queries from the Committee would be sent to the Department for a written response and that officials would attend in early October 2007 to update the Committee on developments in relation to Workplace 2010 and provide more detail on the proposed review of policy options for the location of public sector jobs.
The meeting continued in open session at 11.10pm.
Agreed: that a motion will be tabled to allow the Committee’s Report to be debated in plenary. The motion was agreed as follows:
‘that this Assembly notes the Committee for Finance and Personnel’s First Report on Workplace 2010 and the Location of Public Sector Jobs and the response to the Report by the Department of Finance and Personnel.’
Agreed: that the Department’s response to the Committee Report will be published. The Clerk will seek further advice on the protocol for publication, given that this response will also be subject to plenary debate.
Members considered pre-introductory information from DFP in relation to the following statutory rules which are to be laid in the Assembly:
- Lands Tribunal (Amendment) Rules (NI) 2007; and
- Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (NI) (Amdt No.2) Scheme (NI) 2007.
Agreed: that members were content at this stage with the policy implications of the proposed legislation.
Members noted the following correspondence:
- DFP: Update on Rating Reviews;
- Minister, Finance and Personnel: Rate Relief for Small Businesses;
Agreed: that members would consider this issue following the update from DFP officials at next week’s meeting.
- NIPSA: Committee Report on Workplace 2010 and Public Sector Jobs Location;
Agreed: a draft response for issue to NIPSA and that NIPSA may be invited to input to the Committee’s consideration of the NISRA evaluation of the Clare House pilot.
- Chairperson, Committee for Employment and Learning: Further Education College Lecturers’ dispute;
Agreed: a draft letter to the Minster for Finance and Personnel.
- Help the Aged: Request for Committee Research Paper on Domestic Rating Review;
Agreed: that the research paper should be issued as requested.
DFP: Response to letter from Firmus Energy, Role of Natural Gas in Northern Ireland’s Energy Mix;
Agreed: that DFP’s response should be forwarded to Firmus Energy for information.
- Ian Slaine: Northern Ireland Network of Child Contact Centres;
- DFP: Disclosure of Death Registration Information, Consultation Analysis Report;
- Des McConaghy: Supply System Scrutiny;
- Des McConaghy: Urban Strategies and the Future of Cities: a Forty-Five Year Perspective;
Agreed: that an acknowledgment will be sent to Mr McConaghy;
- Minister, Finance and Personnel: DFP’s Role in Developing a Multi-Sports Stadium; and
- NILGA/Solace: Request to brief the Committee on the role of Councils following the implementation of the Review of Public Administration (RPA).
Mr Weir declared an interest as a member of NILGA.
Agreed: that the Clerk will respond, providing details of DFP’s responsibilities regarding RPA and suggesting that a future briefing could be arranged in respect of the Department’s responsibilities.
Committee Work Programme
Members considered a draft Committee work programme until Christmas recess and noted the following:
- the briefing from DFP officials on the draft Budget and the Comprehensive Spending Review had been moved to 19 September;
- the Committee will receive a consultation report on the Domestic Rating Review by the end of September and will then be given four weeks to respond to DFP;
- the visit to Clare House would be deferred until the NISRA report was available.
Agreed: that the views of statutory committees would be sought on the draft budgets of their respective departments and co-ordinated in a Committee report to the Executive. The Committee would table a motion for a ‘take note’ debate on the draft Budget prior to completion of the Report.
Agreed: that the work programme will be published on the Assembly website.
Issue of Press Releases
Agreed: a list of contacts to whom Committee press releases would be issued.
Any Other Business
Agreed: that the Clerk will decide on a case-by-case basis whether papers, received after the deadline for the preparation of members’ packs, should be tabled at the next meeting or held for the subsequent meeting.
Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 12 September 2007 at 10.00am in Room 152 Parliament Buildings.
Mr Storey gave his apologies.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 11.40pm.
Mitchel McLaughlin, Chairperson,
Committee for Finance and Personnel.
12 September 2007.