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Minutes of Proceedings
Room 152, Parliament Buildings

Present: Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (Chairperson)
Simon Hamilton MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Dr Stephen Farry MLA
Fra McCann MLA
Jennifer McCann MLA
David McNarry MLA
Adrian McQuillan MLA
Declan O’Loan MLA

In Attendance: Shane McAteer (Assembly Clerk)
Colin Jones (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Paula Sandford (Clerical Supervisor)
Chris McCreery (Clerical Officer)
Dr Robert Barry (Assembly Research)

Apologies: Ian Paisley Jnr MLA
Peter Weir MLA

The meeting commenced at 10.08 am in open session.

  1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

Agreed : that Hansard will cover the briefing from Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) officials on the Role of Central Expenditure and Supply Divisions in Overseeing Public Expenditure and that the finalised transcript will be published on the website.

  1. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 8 October 2008

Agreed: for publication on the Assembly website.

  1. Matters Arising

The Committee noted the outstanding requests for information from DFP.

Members noted the submission from the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations to DFP’s public consultation on Green Rebates, which had been requested by the Committee at last week’s briefing from DFP officials.

Members noted DFP’s Reform Delivery Unit report on Land and Property Services (LPS) and agreed that it may inform next week’s scrutiny of LPS.

Members considered DFP’s response to the Committee’s query on how the requirements of Section 64 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 will be met if a Draft Budget for 2009/10 is not laid.

Dr Farry joined the meeting at10.22 am.

Agreed: that further, more substantive, information will be requested from DFP on the extent of the ongoing Budget Stocktake for 2009/10 and 2010/11, including the process and timescale for assessing departmental returns, the scope for changes to existing budget allocations and on what provision will be made for Assembly input before the outcome of the Stocktake is announced. The request will be included in packs for the next meeting.

Agreed: that the other statutory committees will be asked to forward the outcome of their consideration of their respective departments’ positions in relation to the Budget Stocktake to the Committee for Finance and Personnel and that members would subsequently consider the extent of the Committee’s co-ordination role.

Agreed: that a copy of the DFP response on meeting the requirements of Section 64 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, will be forwarded to the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister as requested.

Agreed : that a date for response will be sought from DFP on its consideration of a rate relief for carers.

  1. Role of Central Expenditure and Supply Divisions in Overseeing Public Expenditure: Evidence from DFP

The Committee took evidence from Richard Pengelly, Budget Director, DFP; Michael Daly, Head of Central Expenditure Division, DFP and Jack Layberry, Head of Supply 1, DFP. The session was recorded by Hansard.

Mr Hamilton left the meeting at 11.34 am.
Mr Hamilton joined the meeting at 11.41 am.
Mr McNarry left the meeting at 11.42 am.
Ms McCann left the meeting at 11.46 am.
Mr McNarry joined the meeting at 11.56 am.
Dr Farry left the meeting at 11.56 am
Ms McCann joined the meeting at 12 noon.

Agreed : that the DFP officials will respond in writing to issues raised during the evidence session and will brief the Minister on the Committee’s request for information on monthly projected outturn against spend for all departments, which is required to enable the Committee to fulfil its scrutiny role of DFP in overseeing spending by departments.

  1. Inquiry into the Role of the Northern Ireland Assembly in Scrutinising the Executive’s Budget and Expenditure

Dr Farry joined the meeting at 12.12 pm.

Members noted that the Committee’s response to DFP on Stage 1 of the Committee’s Inquiry needed to be agreed at next week’s meeting.

The Committee was briefed by Assembly Research on points of interest for Northern Ireland arising from the Scottish Parliament Finance Committee’s Review of the Budget Process.

Members considered the Committee’s response to the questions posed by DFP on the Budget 2007 process.

Agreed : that comments on the need for greater scrutiny of baseline spend and of departmental efficiency delivery plans will be included and the final draft will be considered at next week’s meeting.

Members noted that responses had been received from seven other statutory committees and considered a paper which summarised the key issues contained in these responses.

Agreed: that the summary paper will be considered further and agreed at next week’s meeting.

Agreed : that the Committee will consider DFP’s response on the compliance of existing public procurement processes with legal requirements, which is due to be received by 17 October, at next week’s meeting.

Mr McNarry left the meeting at 12.40 pm.

  1. Subordinate Legislation

The Committee considered a draft Statutory Rule from DFP: the Lands Tribunal (Salaries) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2008. Members noted that the Committee had previously considered the draft proposal for this Statutory Rule on 10 September 2008 and, following clarification on 17 September of points raised, was content with the policy implications of the proposed legislation.

The Committee noted that the Examiner of Statutory Rules had considered the draft statutory rule and had reported that no issues were raised from his technical scrutiny.

Agreed : that the Committee for Finance and Personnel has considered the Lands Tribunal (Salaries) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2008 and recommends that it be affirmed by the Assembly.

  1. Correspondence

The Committee noted the following correspondence:

Agreed : that NIPSA officials will be invited to brief the Committee on the report, prior to the Committee being updated by DFP officials on Workplace 2010 on 5 November;

Agreed : that further information will be requested from DFP;

  1. Committee Work Programme

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

Members considered motions to extend the committee stages of both the Presumption of Death and Civil Registration Bills and noted that DFP was content with the proposed extensions.

Agreed : that a motion will be laid in the Business Office, seeking to extend the Committee Stage of the Presumption of Death Bill until 16 January 2009.

Agreed : that a motion will be laid in the Business Office, seeking to extend the Committee Stage of the Civil Registration Bill until 20 March 2009.

Agreed: that a briefing from DFP officials on the strategic and cross-cutting issues arising from the ongoing Budget Stocktake for 2009/10 and 2010/11 will be scheduled into the work programme.

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

Mr McCann left the meeting at 12.55 pm.

  1. Any Other Business

Members noted a press article from the Mail on Sunday, “Staveley is favourite for a deal at Trillium,” which was relevant to DFP’s award of the Workplace 2010 contract.

Members noted a DFP press release relating to a public consultation on pleural plaques and that a session will be scheduled in late January 2009, for DFP officials to report to the Committee on the outcome of the consultation.

  1. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 at 10.00 am in Room 152, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.58 pm.

Mitchel McLaughlin, Chairperson,
Committee for Finance and Personnel.
22 October 2008

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