COMMITTEE FOR FINANCE AND PERSONNEL
Minutes of Proceedings
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
Room 152, Parliament Buildings
Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (Chairperson)
Simon Hamilton MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Dr Stephen Farry MLA
Fra McCann MLA
David McNarry MLA
Adrian McQuillan MLA
Declan O’Loan MLA
Ian Paisley Jnr MLA
Peter Weir MLA
Shane McAteer (Assembly Clerk)
Colin Jones (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Paula Sandford (Clerical Supervisor)
Chris McCreery (Clerical Officer)
Jennifer McCann MLA
The meeting commenced at 10.03 am in open session.
Apologies are detailed above.
Agreed: that the sessions with Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA) officials and with Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) officials on the Workplace 2010 programme will be recorded by Hansard and the finalised transcripts will be published on the website.
2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 22 October 2008
Agreed: for publication on the Assembly website.
Members noted that, as previously agreed, the relevant section of the draft minutes had been agreed by the Chairperson and included as ‘unapproved minutes’ in the Committee’s Report on Stage One of its Inquiry into the Scrutiny of the Northern Ireland Executive’s Budget and Expenditure, which had been published and forwarded to DFP.
3. Matters Arising
The Committee noted the outstanding requests for information from DFP.
Members considered DFP’s response to questions posed by the Committee on the Department’s position in relation to the Budget Stocktake.
Agreed: that an initial submission will be drafted for tabling at next week’s meeting.
Members noted that submissions from the other statutory committees on the Budget Stocktake were due by 14 November and will be considered by the Committee at its meeting on 19 November.
The Committee considered the response from the Minister to the Committee’s request for substantive information on the Budget Stocktake, which was requested to enable the Committee to determine how it can fulfil its statutory scrutiny and advisory role in relation to budgetary matters.
Mr McQuillan joined the meeting at 10.09 am.
Agreed: that the Committee will respond to the Minister, expressing its concern that the Committee and the Assembly in general, was not being afforded appropriate opportunity to scrutinise any forthcoming changes to the budget allocations for 2009 – 2011, especially given the major pressures emerging. It was also agreed that the response to the Minister should clarify the basis for the Committee’s request for an oral briefing by DFP officials on the strategic issues emerging from the Budget Stocktake.
Members noted that DFP had requested that the briefing scheduled for 12 November on the Executive’s Review of the Budget Process is rescheduled and that a written response on how DFP plans to take forward the Review, in terms of Assembly input, was to be forwarded.
Mr Paisley asked for DFP’s recent response on construction issues to be forwarded to him.
Mr McCann joined the meeting at 10.17 am.
Members noted that, as agreed at the last meeting, further information had been requested from DFP on the legal challenges relating to government procurement and the outcomes and costs on an individual case basis and that DFP hoped to send a response by 7 November.
Members noted that Edward Quigg, a local procurement specialist, will brief the Committee on 26 November.
The Committee considered a paper proposing a terms of reference for its consideration of public procurement and a list of representative organisations from whom the Committee could seek evidence.
Agreed: that the terms of reference will be updated to include consideration of reasons for delays in moving the process forward.
Agreed: that the Federation of Small Businesses will be invited to give oral evidence on 26 November and that the remaining organisations identified will be contacted to determine whether they would be prepared to send a written submission and subsequently give oral evidence.
Agreed: that the Minister’s response on the Budget Stocktake will be forwarded to the other statutory committees.
4. Workplace 2010 Programme: Evidence from Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA)
The Committee took evidence from John Corey, General Secretary, NIPSA; Kieran Bannon, Assistant General Secretary, NIPSA and Amanda Allaway, Chairperson of the NIPSA Civil Service Executive Committee. The session was recorded by Hansard.
Mr Paisley left the meeting at 11.23 am.
Mr Hamilton left the meeting at 11.30 am.
5. Workplace 2010 Programme: Evidence from DFP
The Committee took evidence from Philip Irwin, Head of Properties Division, DFP; Michael Donnelly, Strategic Advisor, Workplace 2010 Programme, DFP and Mark Bailey, Workplace 2010 Programme, DFP. The session was recorded by Hansard.
Agreed: that DFP officials will brief the Committee in January 2009, once the options for Workplace 2010 have been re-evaluated.
Mr Paisley joined the meeting at 11.43 am.
Mr Hamilton joined the meeting at 11.45 am.
6. Outcome of September 2008 Monitoring Round: DFP Briefing
The Committee was briefed by Richard Pengelly, Budget Director, DFP and Michael Daly, Head of Central Expenditure Division, DFP.
Mr McNarry left the meeting at 12.05 pm.
Mr McNarry joined the meeting at 12.24 pm.
Mr McCann left the meeting at 12.28 pm.
Agreed: that information will be requested from DFP on how the Department will address the shortfall in funding arising from the allocations made in the September 2008 Monitoring Round.
The Committee noted the following correspondence:
- Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (COFMdFM): Inquiry on Consideration of European Issues;
Agreed : that the Committee will respond to COFMdFM and that an initial paper will be considered at a future meeting;
- Mr Nevin Taggart: Rathlin Ferry tender;
Agreed : that a response will issue, stating that this issue is being taken forward by the Committee for Regional Development;
- DFP: Non-Domestic Rating - decapitalisation;
- DFP: Response to submissions received by the Committee in relation to the Presumption of Death Bill;
Agreed: that the relevant extracts of the DFP response will be sent to those organisations which made the written submissions for their consideration;
- DFP: Response to Committee query regarding the proportion of contracts awarded which contain Social Clauses;
- DFP: Response from Central Expenditure Division on targets for Post Project Evaluations (PPEs) and on bonus payments to Senior Civil Servants;
Agreed: that the response on PPEs did not provide the information requested on DFP Supply’s performance in ensuring that PPEs are carried out promptly and that this will be requested again from DFP.
Agreed: that a further breakdown of the bonuses awarded to senior civil servants will be requested and that a briefing from DFP will be scheduled once this information has been received;
- Help the Aged: SeniorLine Benchmark Survey 2008;
- DFP: Review of Domestic Rating – The Way Forward;
- Committee for the Environment: Department of the Environment comments on Committee Report on the Building Regulations (Amendment) Bill;
- DFP: Announcement of rates deferment scheme for homeowning pensioners; and
- DFP: Response on forecast outturn data.
8. Committee Work Programme
Members considered the current draft of the Committee work programme until Christmas Recess.
Agreed: that the current draft of the programme will be published on the website.
9. Any Other Business
Members considered the draft extract from the Assembly Commission Annual Report which referred to the Committee for Finance and Personnel.
Agreed: that the extract will be included in the Commission’s Annual Report.
10. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 12 November 2008 at 10.00 am in Room 152, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.47 pm.