Northern Ireland Assembly Flax Flower Logo


WEDNESDAY, 11 June 2008
Room 152, Parliament Buildings

Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (Chairperson)
Simon Hamilton MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Roy Beggs MLA
Dr Stephen Farry 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)
Chris McCreery (Clerical Officer)

Dawn Purvis MLA
Mervyn Storey MLA
Peter Weir MLA

The meeting commenced at 10.03 am in open session.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

The Committee noted that Mr Hamilton had replaced Mr Storey as Deputy Chairperson with effect from 10 June 2008. Members congratulated Mr Hamilton on his appointment as Deputy Chairperson and also acknowledged with thanks the work carried out by Mr Storey as Deputy Chairperson and wished him well in his new position as the Chairperson of the Committee for Education.

Mr McQuillan joined the meeting at 10.04 am.

Agreed: that the evidence from the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) officials under Agenda item 4 will be covered by Hansard and the Official Report published on the Assembly website.

Agreed: that the Committee’s consideration of its draft Report on the Building Regulations (Amendment) Bill will be held in closed session, in line with normal practice.

Agreed: that correspondence from the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA) will be discussed in closed session, given that it contained commercially sensitive information.

2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 4 June 2008

Agreed: for publication on the Assembly website.

3. Matters Arising

The Committee noted the outstanding requests for information from the Department.

Members also noted that DFP had provided a revised table on adjustments between the Budget Allocations and Main Estimates 2008-11.

Members noted DFP’s reply to issues raised at last week’s meeting relating to the Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2008.

Members noted correspondence on DFP’s assessment of the outline business case on the Maze/Long Kesh regeneration site.

Agreed: that the Committee will consider this issue at next week’s meeting.

The Committee also noted correspondence from the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE) providing clarification on its position on the Council clusters for the delivery of PEACE III.

Agreed: that the Committee will consider this issue at the briefing session on PEACE funding with DFP and the Special EU Programmes Body, scheduled for 25 June 2008.

The Committee was advised of difficulties experienced by other statutory committees in obtaining timely information from their departments on monitoring rounds.

Agreed: that the Committee will inform DFP of the issues raised.

4. Varney’s Report on NI Competitiveness/Progress on Regional Economic Strategy – Evidence from DFP

The Committee took evidence on this issue from the following DFP officials: Michael Brennan, Head of Strategic Policy Division and Peter Jakobsen, Principal Economist. The session was recorded by Hansard.

Dr Farry joined the meeting at 10.11 am.
Mr Hamilton left the meeting at 11.05 am.
Mr Hamilton returned to the meeting at 11.13 am.

5. Strategic Underspend 2007/08 – DFP Briefing

The Committee was briefed by the following DFP officials: Michael Daly, Head of Central Expenditure Division and Paul Montgomery, Central Expenditure Division.

Mr McQuillan left the meeting at 11.20 am.
Mr McQuillan returned to the meeting at 11.22 am.
Mr McCann left the meeting at 11.35 am.
Ms McCann left the meeting at 11.39 am.
Mr Hamilton left the meeting at 11.43 am.
Ms McCann returned to the meeting at 11.44 am.
Mr Hamilton returned to the meeting at 11.50 am.

Agreed: that the DFP officials will respond in writing to issues raised by the Committee.

6. Correspondence

The Committee noted the following:

Agreed: that the invite, to visit the Capita Group’s shared service centre in Belfast will be scheduled into the Committee’s work programme after summer recess.

The meeting continued in closed session at 11.55 am.

Correspondence in respect of Workplace 2010

The Committee noted the following correspondence:

Agreed: that the Committee will request an urgent evidence session with DFP officials on the Workplace 2010 issues raised in the NIPSA correspondence. It was also agreed that, given that this matter is commercially sensitive, the evidence could be taken in closed session at the Department’s request. In the meantime, the NIPSA correspondence will be forwarded to DFP.

7. Building Regulations (Amendment) Bill – Committee Stage: Consideration of Draft Report

Mr Beggs declared an interest as a member of Carrickfergus Borough Council and as a representative of Carrickfergus Borough Council on the North Eastern Area Group Building Control Committee.

Members considered the Committee’s draft report on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis, as follows:

Paragraphs 1 – 13 were agreed.

Paragraphs 14 – 16 were agreed.

Paragraphs 17 – 18 were agreed.

Paragraph 19 was agreed.

Paragraphs 20 – 22 were agreed.

Paragraphs 23 – 24 were agreed.

Paragraphs 25 – 29 were agreed.

Paragraph 30 was agreed.

Paragraph 31 was agreed.

Paragraph 32 was agreed.

Paragraph 33 was agreed.

Paragraphs 34 – 53 were agreed.

Paragraph 54 was agreed subject to the last sentence being amended to read as follows:-

‘The Committee is content with the clarification provided by DFP, though it sees this issue as another example of the potential for overlap between Building Regulations and Planning, which highlights the need for closer co-ordination between the two functions’.

Paragraphs 55 – 59 were agreed.

Paragraph 60 was agreed subject to the first sentence being amended to read as follows:-

‘As regards forthcoming measures, the Committee, in principle, welcomes the introduction of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) later this year’.

Paragraphs 61 – 68 were agreed.

Paragraph 69 was agreed subject to deleting “Debate on” in the subtitle before paragraph 69.

Paragraphs 70 – 83 were agreed.

Paragraph 84 was agreed subject to the second sentence being amended to read as follows:-

‘The Committee considers that market forces alone may not be able to sufficiently drive increased uptake of LZC systems and to support technological development’.

Paragraph 85 was agreed subject to the first bullet point being amended to read as follows:-

‘regularly assess the cost-effectiveness of LZC systems in light of the ongoing increases in fossil fuel prices’.

Paragraphs 86 – 91 were agreed.

Paragraph 92 was agreed subject to the first sentence being amended to read as follows:-

‘Given the evidence on the importance of stimulating demand for renewables and supporting the early adopter market, the Committee understands the concerns raised recently, including by the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, at the ending of the ‘Reconnect’ grant scheme’.

Paragraphs 93 – 98 were agreed.

Agreed: that the draft Executive Summary stands part of the report, subject to minor typographical amendments.

Agreed: that the appendices stand part of the Report.

Members noted that the conclusions and recommendations in bold within the main body of the report will be copied to the relevant section at the front of the report.

Agreed: that the relevant extract from the draft minutes of today’s proceedings will be checked by the Chairperson and included in the Committee’s Report as ‘unapproved’ minutes of proceedings.

Agreed: that the Report, as amended, be the Fourth Report of the Committee for Finance and Personnel to the Assembly for session 2007/08.

Agreed: that the Report be printed.

The meeting continued in open session at 12.34 pm.

8. Committee Work Programme

Members considered the latest draft of the Committee work programme for the period up to summer recess.

Agreed: that the latest draft of the programme will be published on the Assembly website.

9. Any Other Business

Agreed: that a briefing session on procurement will be scheduled into the Committee work programme after summer recess.

10. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 18 June 2008 at 10.00 am in Room 152, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.35 pm.

Mitchel McLaughlin, Chairperson,
Committee for Finance and Personnel.
18 June 2008

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