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Minutes of Proceedings
Wednesday, 7 January 2009
Room 152, Parliament Buildings

Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (Chairperson)
Simon Hamilton MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Dr Stephen Farry MLA
Fra McCann MLA
Jennifer McCann MLA
Declan O’Loan MLA
Ian Paisley Jnr MLA
Dawn Purvis MLA

In Attendance:
Shane McAteer (Assembly Clerk)
Colin Jones (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Vivien Ireland (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Paula Sandford (Clerical Supervisor)
Chris McCreery (Clerical Officer)

David McNarry MLA
Adrian McQuillan MLA
Peter Weir MLA

The meeting commenced at 10.01 am in open session.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

Agreed: that the evidence session with Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) officials on the outcome of the December 2008 Monitoring Round will be recorded by Hansard and the finalised transcript published on the website.

2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 10 December 2008

Agreed: for publication on the Assembly website.

3. Matters Arising

The Committee noted the outstanding requests for information from DFP.

Members noted further information from the Consumer Council arising from the 10 December 2008 evidence session. Any outstanding information from the Consumer Council will be provided in advance of the next meeting on 14 January 2009, when local banking representatives will brief the Committee.

Members noted the DFP Strategic Policy Division Balance Scorecard for 2008/2009.

Ms Purvis and Dr Farry joined the meeting at 10.03 am.
Mr Paisley joined the meeting at 10.04 am.

Agreed: that clarification will be sought on the target to produce a Regional Economic Strategy by 1 September 2008.

Members considered a further response from DFP on the clawback of European Union (EU) grants, which clarified that any similar financial corrections by the European Commission in future will affect NI Departmental budgets.

Agreed: that assurances will be sought from DFP that all necessary steps are being taken to avoid this scenario and that further information will be sought on aspects of the previous briefing provided by DFP on this issue.

Agreed: that DFP’s response will be copied to the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (COFMDFM).

Members noted DFP’s clarification on differences in salaries paid at Permanent Secretary level, as detailed in DFP’s Resource Accounts for year ended 31 March 2008.

4. Presumption of Death Bill Committee Stage: Consideration of Draft Report

Mr Paisley left the meeting at 10.13 am.

Members considered the first draft of the Committee Report on the Committee Stage of the Presumption of Death Bill.

Agreed: that the report as drafted will be included on the agenda for next week’s meeting for formal consideration.

Mr Paisley joined the meeting at 10.22 am.

5. Outcome of December 2008 Monitoring Round: Evidence from DFP

The Committee took evidence from Michael Daly, Head of Central Expenditure Division, DFP and Paul Montgomery, Central Expenditure Division, DFP. The session was recorded by Hansard.

Agreed: that the DFP officials will provide further information as requested by the Committee during the evidence session.

Agreed: that, in the context of DFP’s role in sponsoring the construction industry, the Chairperson will write to the Minister to call on him to take the opportunity of the February Monitoring Round to re-examine the practical measures which can be taken to further support the local construction industry.

Agreed: that the tables associated with the Minister’s Statement, which were not available on the day of the statement, will be forwarded to the other statutory committees for information.

6. Policy Aims of Draft Rates Amendment Bill: Evidence from DFP

The Committee took evidence from Brian McClure, Head of Rating Policy Division, DFP; Veronica Holland, Rating Policy Division, DFP and Ivan Millen, Rating Policy Division, DFP. The session was recorded by Hansard.

Mr McCann left the meeting at 11.04 am.
Mr Hamilton left the meeting at 11.07 am.

Dr Farry declared an interest as a member of North Down Borough Council.

Mr Hamilton joined the meeting at 11.15 am.
Mr McCann joined the meeting at 11.52 am.

Agreed: that DFP officials will provide a paper on the exclusion of the social housing sector from the proposed Green Rebates scheme.

7. Correspondence

The Committee noted the following correspondence:

Mr Paisley left the meeting at 12.10 pm.

8. Committee Work Programme from January 2009

Members considered the current draft of the Committee work programme until summer recess and noted that local banking representatives will accompany the British Bankers’ Association to brief the Committee at next week’s meeting.

Agreed: that the Committee meeting on 14 January 2009 will be held in the Senate Chamber and to accommodate this, DFP briefings on the Financial Provisions Bill and on the Monitoring of Post Project Evaluations will be rearranged for a future date.

Agreed: that the DFP response to concerns raised by genealogists in respect of the Civil Registration Bill will be forwarded to the witnesses in advance of the meeting on 14 January 2009.

9. Any Other Business

Members noted that Consideration Stage of the Building Regulations (Amendment) Bill was currently scheduled for 13 January 2009.

10. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 14 January 2009 at 10.00 am in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.29 pm.

Mitchel McLaughlin, Chairperson,
Committee for Finance and Personnel.
14 January 2009

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