COMMITTEE FOR FINANCE AND PERSONNEL
Minutes of Proceedings
WEDNESDAY, 22 OCTOBER 2008
Room 152, Parliament Buildings
Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (Chairperson)
Simon Hamilton MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Fra McCann MLA
David McNarry MLA
Adrian McQuillan MLA
Declan O’Loan MLA
Dawn Purvis MLA
Peter Weir MLA
Shane McAteer (Assembly Clerk)
Colin Jones (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Paula Sandford (Clerical Supervisor)
Chris McCreery (Clerical Officer)
Dr Stephen Farry MLA
Jennifer McCann MLA
The meeting commenced at 10.05 am in open session.
Apologies are detailed above.
Agreed: that the sessions with Land and Property Services (LPS) officials and with Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) officials on the Department’s Budget Stocktake position will be recorded by Hansard and the finalised transcripts will be published on the website.
Agreed: that the Committee’s formal consideration of its Draft Report on Stage One of the Committee Inquiry into the Role of the Northern Ireland Assembly in Scrutinising the Executive’s Budget will be in closed session, in line with normal committee practice.
2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 15 October 2008
Agreed: for publication on the Assembly website.
3. Matters Arising
The Committee noted the outstanding requests for information from DFP. It was noted that DFP will respond on its consideration of a rates relief for carers by 14 November 2008.
Members noted that DFP had still not provided an update on how it will progress the findings from its report on the take-up of rate reliefs.
Agreed: that a written update will be sought from DFP.
Members noted the correspondence which, as agreed at the last meeting, had been issued to both the Minister of Finance and Personnel and the other statutory committees in relation to the Budget Stocktake. It was also noted that DFP officials had advised that they were working on a response and that, due to the sensitivity of the issue and the Minister’s desire to properly address the matter, the response could not be sent in time for today’s meeting, but will issue as soon as possible.
Mr Weir joined the meeting at 10.09 am.
Members considered DFP’s response on the compliance of Central Procurement Directorate’s (CPD) procurement process with legal requirements.
Agreed: that a paper will be considered at the next meeting, containing a proposed terms of reference for the Committee’s consideration of this policy area and a list of representative organisations, including the Federation of Small Businesses, from whom the Committee could seek evidence.
Agreed: that further information will be requested from DFP on the number of legal challenges to government procurement processes in recent years and a breakdown of the outcomes and costs of individual cases.
Agreed: that Edward Quigg, a local procurement specialist, will be invited to brief the Committee and that the information sent to the Committee by CPD will be forwarded to Mr Quigg.
4. Scrutiny of Land and Property Services(LPS): Evidence from LPS
Members noted that the Committee had previously agreed with the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the evidence from LPS officials will not include scrutiny of rates collection and arrears as this is currently being considered by the PAC.
Peter Weir declared an interest as a member of North Down Borough Council and Vice-President of the Northern Ireland Local Government Association.
The Committee took evidence from John Wilkinson, Chief Executive, LPS; Arthur Scott, Director of Operations, LPS and Alan Brontë, Director of Valuation and Commissioner of Valuation, LPS. The session was recorded by Hansard.
Mr McCann left the meeting at 11.18 am.
Mr Weir left the meeting at 11.26 am.
Mr McCann joined the meeting at 11.27 am.
Mr Weir joined the meeting at 11.39 am.
Mr McNarry left the meeting at 11.43 am.
Agreed: that LPS officials will provide a written response to issues raised by the Committee during the evidence session.
5. DFP Position on Budget Stocktake: Evidence from DFP
Agreed: that, as the previous session had taken more time than anticipated, the Committee’s questions will be forwarded to DFP officials for a written response by Friday 31 October 2008.
Agreed: that members will forward any further issues to the Clerk by Friday 24 October 2008 for submission to DFP.
Members noted that a DFP briefing on the strategic and cross-cutting departmental aspects of the Stocktake had been provisionally scheduled for 12 November and that responses from the other statutory committees were due by 14 November.
Agreed: that, following the DFP briefing and consideration of statutory committee responses, the Committee will be in a position to consider a co-ordinated response to the Stocktake to DFP.
6. Presumption of Death Bill Committee Stage: Scheduling of Evidence Sessions
Committee members considered written submissions received in response to the Committee’s public consultation on the draft Presumption of Death Bill and agreed that representatives from the WAVE Trauma Centre should be invited to give evidence on the scope and provisions of the Bill after Halloween Recess.
Members noted a proposed new clause from DFP relating to disclosure of information.
The meeting continued in closed session at 12.03 pm.
7. Committee Inquiry into the Role of the Northern Ireland Assembly in Scrutinising the Executive’s Budget and Expenditure
Members considered the Committee’s draft Report on Stage One of its Inquiry on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis, as follows:
Committee for Finance and Personnel’s Response to DFP’s Questions for Statutory Committees
Agreed: that the response to Question 1 stands part of the Report.
Agreed: that the response to Question 2 stands part of the Report.
Agreed: that the response to Question 3 stands part of the Report.
Agreed: that the response to Question 4 stands part of the Report.
Agreed: that the response to Question 5 stands part of the Report.
Mr McNarry joined the meeting at 12.10 pm.
Agreed: that the response to Question 6 stands part of the Report.
Ms Purvis left the meeting at 12.13 pm.
Agreed: that the response to Question 7 stands part of the Report.
Agreed: that the response to Question 8 stands part of the Report.
Agreed: that the response to Question 9 stands part of the Report.
Agreed: that the response to Question 10 stands part of the Report.
Agreed: that the response to Question 11 stands part of the Report.
Agreed: that the response to Question 12 stands part of the Report.
Overview of Stage 1 of the Inquiry
Agreed: that paragraphs 1 to 3 stand part of the Report.
Agreed: that paragraph 4 stands part of the Report.
Agreed: that paragraphs 5 to 6 stand part of the Report.
Agreed: that paragraphs 7 to 9 stand part of the Report.
Agreed: that paragraphs 10 to 12 stand part of the Report.
Agreed: that paragraphs 13 to 15 stand part of the Report.
Agreed: that paragraphs 16 to 18 stand part of the Report.
Agreed: that paragraphs 19 to 21 stand part of the Report.
Agreed: that paragraphs 22 to 24 stand part of the Report.
Agreed: that paragraphs 25 to 27 stand part of the Report.
Agreed: that the draft Executive Summary stands part of the report.
Agreed: that the appendices stand part of the Report.
Members noted that the 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 be the First Report of the Committee for Finance and Personnel to the Assembly for session 2008/09.
Agreed: that the Report on Stage 1 of the Committee Inquiry into the Role of the Northern Ireland Assembly in Scrutinising the Executive’s Budget and Expenditure be printed.
Members noted that a typescript copy of the Report will issue to DFP by the end of the week, in line with normal protocol. The report will be published shortly thereafter and copies issued to all MLAs.
Agreed : that information will be sought from DFP as to how it intends to progress the Review of the Budget Process, especially in terms of input from the Assembly.
The meeting continued in open session at 12.34 pm.
The Committee noted the following correspondence:
- DFP: reply on why e-mailed queries from members of the public to government departments were not being promptly acknowledged;
- DFP: Progress report on the PEACE III programme;
- DFP: response on construction issues arising from the briefing to the Committee on 24 September; and
- DFP: Response to Committee queries on the outcome of the public consultation on Green Rebates.
9. Committee Work Programme
Members considered the current draft of the Committee work programme until Christmas Recess.
Members noted that it had not been possible to schedule a briefing from Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA) officials on Tuesday 4 November. NIPSA officials will therefore brief the Committee on Wednesday 5 November, prior to the Committee receiving an update from DFP officials on Workplace 2010.
Agreed: that the current draft of the programme will be published on the website.
10. Any Other Business
11. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 5 November 2008 at 10.00 am in Room 152, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.40 pm.