MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
WEDNESDAY, 14 NOVEMBER 2007
SENATE CHAMBER, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
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
Declan O’Loan MLA
Peter Weir MLA
Shane McAteer (Assembly Clerk)
Vivien Ireland (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Colin Jones (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Paula Sandford (Clerical Supervisor)
Mary Thompson (Clerical Officer)
Adrian McQuillan MLA
Dawn Purvis MLA
The meeting commenced at 10.05 am in open session.
Apologies are detailed above.
Draft Minutes of Proceedings 7 November 2007
Agreed: for publication on the Assembly website.
Agreed: that Official Reports (Hansard recordings) will be made of today’s briefings from the Minister of Finance and Personnel on the Executive’s Draft Budget and from Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) officials on the Department’s draft budget and its contribution to the draft Programme for Government and Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland.
Ms McCann joined the meeting at 10.05 am.
Mr Storey joined the meeting at 10.06 am.
Consideration of Committee Response to the Executive Review of the Domestic Rating System
Members reviewed the recording of the Committee’s decision to forward its response to the Department.
Agreed: that details of the division on the decision to issue the Committee response to the Department should be read into the record of the Committee’s consideration as follows:-
The Chairperson, Mr McLaughlin, proposed:
That the amended Committee response to the Review of Domestic Rating Reform will be sent to the Department as soon as possible.
The Committee divided: Ayes 5; Noes 1; Abstentions 1.
Mr Beggs, Mr Hamilton, Ms McCann, Mr McQuillan, Mr Weir.
Chairperson (Mr McLaughlin)
Question accordingly agreed to.
Plenary Debate on Draft Budget
Members noted that the Business Committee had scheduled the Committee’s motion for a take-note debate on the Draft Budget for Tuesday 27 November 2007 and that the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson would agree who will make the opening and winding speeches in the debate.
DFP Ministerial Evidence Session on Executive’s Draft Budget
The Committee received oral evidence on the Executive’s Draft Budget from the Minister of Finance and Personnel, Rt Hon Peter D Robinson, MP, MLA; Leo O’Reilly, Second Permanent Secretary, DFP and Paul Montgomery, Central Expenditure Division, DFP. The session was recorded by Hansard.
Mr Storey left the meeting at 11.00 am.
Mr Storey joined the meeting at 11.12 am.
Members noted that a briefing from DFP officials on strategic budget issues had been scheduled for the next meeting and subsequent briefings on the work of both the proposed Performance and Efficiency Delivery Unit and the Capital Realisation Taskforce were currently being arranged.
DFP Evidence Session on the Department’s Draft Budget and its contribution to the draft Programme for Government and Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland.
The Committee received oral and written evidence from Jim O’Hagan, Finance Director, DFP and Deborah McNeilly, Assistant Finance Director, DFP. The session was recorded by Hansard.
Mr Weir left the meeting at 11.34 am.
Mr O’Loan left the meeting at 11.45 am.
Dr Farry left the meeting at 11.50 am.
Mr Weir joined the meeting at 12.00 pm.
Mr Storey left the meeting at 12.00 pm.
Agreed: that outstanding issues not covered in the evidence session will be forwarded to officials for a written response and that this will include clarification that Land and Property Services has sufficient resources to resolve the difficulties with its IT systems, especially in relation to rates relief.
DFP Briefing on Future Policy for Managing Absenteeism
The Committee was briefed by Derek Baker, Director of Personnel, DFP; Grace Nesbitt, Deputy Director of Personnel, DFP and Dr John Mallon, Director of HR Consultancy Services, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).
DFP Briefing on the Report by the Economic Research Institute of Northern Ireland (ERINI) on Industrial Derating
The Committee was briefed by Brian McClure, Head of Rating Division, DFP; Victor Hewitt, Director, ERINI and Stephen Pearson, Principal Economist, DFP (seconded to ERINI).
Dr Farry joined the meeting at 12.25 pm.
Members noted correspondence from the Minister of Finance and Personnel in relation to freight transport rate relief.
The Committee considered the current 30% liability in relation to industrial derating proposed by the Minister for the next financial year, together with the conclusion in the ERINI Report that the 75% figure for freight transport rate relief should remain in place for the time being.
Agreed: that the Committee will write to the Minister indicating that it is content with both of these proposals.
Agreed: that the ERINI Report will be forwarded to the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment.
Committee Work Programme
Members considered the updated Committee work programme until Christmas recess.
Agreed: that evidence sessions on the work of both the Performance and Efficiency Delivery Unit and the Capital Realisation Taskforce will be scheduled for 28 November 2007.
Agreed : that the visit to Clare House will be scheduled once NISRA has completed its second evaluation report.
Agreed: that the updated work programme will be published on the Assembly website.
Members noted the following correspondence:
- Carina Fitzsimons: Classroom Assistants’ Dispute;
- DFP: Response to the Environment Committee request on Capital Underspend 2006/07;
- Committee for Social Development: Conflict Transformation Initiative;
Agreed: that the correspondence will be passed to the Minister of Finance and Personnel as requested.
- DFP: Administration of Estates (Rights of Surviving Spouse or Civil Partner) Order Northern Ireland 2007.
Any Other Business
The Chairperson informed members that he had accepted an invitation from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants to address a meeting of its public sector forum in February 2008.
Members considered a draft press release.
Agreed: that the press release will be issued as drafted and will be embargoed until the Committee’s Report on its Response to the Executive’s Review of the Domestic Rating System is published.
Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 21 November 2007 at 10.00 am in Room 152, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.15 pm.