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Present: Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (Chairperson)
Mervyn Storey MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Roy Beggs MLA
Dr Stephen Farry MLA
Simon Hamilton MLA
Fra McCann MLA
Jennifer McCann MLA
Adrian McQuillan MLA
Declan O’Loan MLA

In Attendance: Shane McAteer (Assembly Clerk)
Vivien Ireland (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Colin Jones (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Paula Sandford (Clerical Supervisor)
Mary Thompson (Clerical Officer)
Apologies: Dawn Purvis MLA
Peter Weir MLA

The meeting commenced at 10.08 am in open session.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings 3 October 2007

Agreed: for publication on the Assembly website.

3. Matters Arising

Members noted the outstanding requests for information from the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP).

Members noted that evidence on the Review of Domestic Rating Reform was not expected from the General Consumer Council or from Professor Birrell, University of Ulster, additional to that which had been provided to the DFP consultation.

4. Evidence Session on the Review of Domestic Rating Reform

Agreed: that an Official Report (Hansard) will be made of all the evidence taken by the Committee in relation to its consideration of the Review of Domestic Rating Reform and that the finalised transcripts will be published on the Assembly website.

The Committee received oral and written evidence from John Simpson, Economist on the Review of Domestic Rating Reform.

Mr Farry joined the meeting at 10.14am.

Agreed: that any follow up questions will be sent to John Simpson for written response.

5. Assembly Research Briefing on the Review of Domestic Rating Reform

Members received a briefing by Assembly Research on a research paper, entitled An International Comparison of Local Government Taxation.

Mr O’Loan left the meeting at 11.07am.
Mr Beggs left the meeting at 11.19am.

Agreed: that Assembly Research will follow up on whether international evidence suggests a relationship between the degree of home ownership and the basis of local government taxation.

6. Evidence Session on the Review of Domestic Rating Reform

The Committee received evidence on research into the options of land valuation taxation and of rating vacant domestic property. The witnesses included Brian McClure and Alison McCaffrey, DFP Rating Division and Peadar Davis and Dr Jasmine Lim, School of the Built Environment, University of Ulster.

Mr Hamilton left the meeting at 11.50am.
Mr O’Loan returned to the meeting at 11.50am.
Mr Hamilton returned to the meeting at 11.55am.
Mr McCann left the meeting at 11.55am.
Mr McCann returned to the meeting at 11.57am.
Mr Storey left the meeting at 12.10pm.
Ms McCann joined the meeting at 12.17pm.

Members noted that, whilst more detailed research is to be undertaken into both of these options, DFP will shortly provide preliminary research findings to help inform the Committee’s considerations.

Agreed: that once the remaining evidence has been received, members will identify the Domestic Rating options which should be given particular consideration.

7. Subordinate Legislation – The Lands Tribunal (Amendment) Rules (Northern Ireland) 2007 and SL1 16 July 2007

The Committee gave initial consideration to subordinate legislation which will introduce rules of procedure and fees in relation to appeals against a decision of the Northern Ireland Valuation Tribunal and in relation to an application to the Lands Tribunal for leave to bring such an appeal.

Agreed: that the Committee has no concerns with the policy aspects of the statutory rule and will not require DFP to provide further information in advance of the Committee’s final consideration of the legislation at its meeting on 24 October 2007.

8. Committee Work Programme

Members were advised that, due to the very full agenda, the Committee will need to have an extended meeting on Wednesday 17 October 2007.

Agreed: that the Committee will work over lunch and into the afternoon as required and that enquiries will be made into the possibilities of retaining the use of Room 152 for the afternoon session to avoid any unnecessary disruption to members.

Agreed: that members will receive an informal briefing on the subordinate legislation process, which will commence immediately after the Committee meeting on 17 October and last approximately 30 minutes.

Members considered the current draft of the Committee work programme until Christmas recess.

Agreed: that the current draft work programme will be published on the Assembly website.

Agreed: that the DFP response to the Committee’s follow up questions on Workplace 2010 and Location of Public Sector Jobs will be published on the Assembly website.

9. Correspondence

Members noted the following correspondence:

Agreed: request to SEUPB for follow up information;

Agreed: request to DFP for follow up information;

Agreed: to forward the accompanying correspondence to the DFP Minister as requested;

Agreed: that the Committee for Finance and Personnel was not in a position to provide evidence to the Inquiry but will wish to consider any response provided to the Inquiry by DFP;

Agreed: to forward the accompanying correspondence to DFP as requested.

10. Any Other Business

Members noted a Press Release on the 2007 Pre-Budget Report and Comprehensive Spending Review.

11. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 17 October 2007 at 10.00am in Room 152 Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.39pm.

Mitchel McLaughlin, Chairperson,
Committee for Finance and Personnel.
17 October 2007

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