MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
WEDNESDAY, 6 FEBRUARY 2008
ROOM 152, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Present: Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (Chairperson)
Roy Beggs MLA
Dr Stephen Farry MLA
Simon Hamilton MLA
Jennifer McCann MLA
Adrian McQuillan MLA
Declan O’Loan MLA
Peter Weir 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: Mervyn Storey MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Dawn Purvis MLA
The meeting commenced at 10.05 am in open session.
Apologies are detailed above.
2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings 30 January 2008
Agreed: for publication on the Assembly website.
Agreed: that the evidence session with the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) officials on the Budget Bill 2008 will be recorded by Hansard and that the finalised transcript will be published on the Assembly’s website.
3. Matters Arising
Members noted the following:
- outstanding requests for information from DFP;
- DFP update on Second Varney Review;
- Invitation to the official launch of Account NI; and
- Research Paper: The Relocation of Public Sector Jobs in England, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland – 30 January 2008.
Mr Weir joined the meeting at 10.08 am.
4. Forthcoming Statutory Rules on Rating Issues
The Committee received a briefing from Brian McClure, Head of Rating Policy Division, DFP, Patrick Neeson, Rating Policy Division, DFP and Alison McCaffrey, Rating Policy Division, DFP on forthcoming statutory rules on rating issues.
Dr Farry and Mr Weir declared an interest as members of North Down Borough Council.
Mr Hamilton declared an interest as a member of Ards Borough Council.
The Committee considered the following SL1s:
- SL1 – Rates (Regional Rates) Order 2008
- SL1 – Rates (Industrial Hereditaments) (Amendment) Order (NI) 2008
- SL1 – Rate Relief (Qualifying Age) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2008
- SL1 – Rate Relief (Lone Pensioner Allowance) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2008
Members suggested some areas where additional information should be provided in the explanatory memorandum for the forthcoming Rate Relief (Qualifying Age) (Amendment) Regulations.
Agreed: that DFP officials will ensure that the explanatory memorandum includes the additional information suggested by the Committee.
Agreed: that the Committee has no concerns with the policy implications of the proposed statutory rules at this stage.
5. Implementation of Domestic Rating Reform
The Committee was briefed by Brian McClure, Head of Rating Policy Division, DFP and University of Ulster representatives: Dr William McCluskey, Dr Lay-Cheng Lim and Mr Peadar Davis on progress in considering the longer-term options for Domestic Rating Reform.
Dr Farry left the meeting at 11.00 am.
Mr Weir left the meeting at 11.05 am.
Mr Weir returned to the meeting at 11.06 am.
Agreed: that DFP will provide a table setting out the implications for each District Council from the reduction in the level of the maximum cap from £500,000 to £400,000.
6. SL1 – Draft Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) Regulations (NI) 2008
Mr Beggs declared an interest as a member of Carrickfergus Borough Council, Building Control Group Committee.
Members were briefed by Seamus McCrystal, Head of Building Standards Branch, DFP, Gerry McKibbin, Building Regulations Unit, DFP and Gerald Coulter, Building Regulations Unit, DFP on the Draft Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) Regulations (NI) 2008.
Dr Farry returned to the meeting at 11.29 am.
Mr O’Loan joined the meeting at 11.35 am.
Agreed: that DFP will provide further information to the Committee on the arrangements for consulting the public on the implementation of EU Directives.
Agreed: that the Committee was content with the policy implications of the proposed statutory rule at this stage.
7. DFP Final Budget Allocations 2008-2011
Members were briefed by Jim O’Hagan, Finance Director, DFP and Deborah McNeilly, Assistant Finance Director, DFP on the Department’s Final Budget Allocation 2008-2011 and were given an update on its efficiency and investment plans and its ‘beneficial realisation framework’.
8. DFP Bids and Easements for February 2008 Monitoring Round
The Committee was briefed by Jim O’Hagan, Finance Director, DFP and Deborah McNeilly, Assistant Finance Director, DFP on the Department’s Bids and Easements for February 2008 Monitoring Round.
Agreed: that further issues will be forwarded to DFP for written response.
Mr Beggs left the meeting at 12.00 pm.
Mr Hamilton left the meeting at 12.00 pm.
Mr Hamilton returned to the meeting at 12.05 pm.
Mr Beggs returned to the meeting at 12.07 pm.
9. Evidence Session on Budget Bill 2008
Members received evidence on the Budget Bill 2008 from Michael Daly, Head of Central Expenditure Division, DFP and Agnes Lennon, Central Expenditure Division, DFP.
Question put and agreed: 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) 2008 and is content to grant accelerated passage to the Bill in accordance with Standing Order 40(2).
Agreed – Letter to the Speaker providing notification of the Committee’s decision on accelerated passage.
10. Subordinate Legislation – The New NAV List (Time of Valuation) Order (Northern Ireland) 2008
The Committee had previously considered the Department’s proposals for this statutory rule on 12 December 2007 and was content with the policy implications of the rule at that stage.
The statutory rule had been included in the Ninth Report of Session 2007/08 by the Examiner of Statutory Rules and no issues were raised from the Examiner’s technical scrutiny.
Question put and agreed: That the Committee for Finance and Personnel has considered The New NAV List (Time of Valuation) Order (Northern Ireland) 2008 and has no objection to the rule.
Members noted the following correspondence:
- DFP response to a member of the public regarding Home Information Packs;
- Public Accounts Committee – An extract from the embargoed Report on Use of Consultants; and
- DFP response to Enterprise Trade and Investment Committee regarding the Draft Action Plan 2008-2011 for the Regional Innovation Strategy.
12. Committee Work Programme
Members considered the updated Committee work programme until Easter recess.
Agreed: the following additional items for inclusion in the programme:
- a briefing from DFP officials on future arrangements for End Year Flexibility; and
- a briefing by Sir David Varney on his second review relating to the Northern Ireland economy.
Agreed: that the Committee Secretariat staff will liaise with DFP to identify appropriate witnesses to brief the Committee on experiences of public sector jobs relocations in other jurisdictions and will schedule briefings into the work programme.
Agreed: that the revised work programme will be published on the Assembly website.
13. Any Other Business
Members noted correspondence from the Press Association which provided contact information.
14. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 13 February 2008 at 10.00 am in Room 152, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.28 pm.
Mitchel McLaughlin, Chairperson,
Committee for Finance and Personnel.
13 February 2008