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Minutes of Proceedings
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
Room 152, Parliament Buildings

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
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)

Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (Chairperson)
Peter Weir MLA

The meeting commenced at 10.11 am in open session.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

Agreed : that the evidence from Carson McDowell Solicitors on the Committee’s Inquiry into Public Procurement Policy and Practice in Northern Ireland (NI) will be covered by Hansard and the finalised transcript published on the website.

2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 04 February 2009

Agreed: for publication on the Assembly website.

3. Matters Arising

The Committee noted the outstanding requests for information from the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP).

Members were advised that DFP would not be submitting evidence to the Independent Review of Economic Policy in NI and that the Head of the NI Civil Service (HOCS) will be responding to the House of Lords Select Committee Inquiry on the Barnett Formula on behalf of the Northern Ireland Civil Service.

Agreed: that enquiries will be made as to how the Committee can obtain a copy of the response to be made by HOCS on the Inquiry into the Barnett Formula.

Members were advised that the Chairperson had been approached by the Regional Development Committee Chairperson regarding the possibilities for both committees meeting concurrently to consider matters of joint concern relating to public finance and expenditure options to alleviate the current economic downturn. This was in follow up to recent communication between the two committees and their respective departments regarding proposals to bring forward roads maintenance projects. Arising from this liaison between the committee chairpersons, an opportunity had been identified for evidence to be taken from the Economic Research Institute of NI.

Question put: That the Committee should sit concurrently with the Committee for Regional Development, in accordance with standing order 64B, on Wednesday 18 February 2009 at 1.30 pm in the Senate Chamber, for the purpose of taking evidence from Economic Research Institute of NI on the paper on “Mitigating the Recession: Options for the NI Executive”.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Mr McNarry joined the meeting at 10.20 am.

4. Public Procurement Policy and Practice in Northern Ireland: Evidence from Carson McDowell Solicitors

The Committee took evidence from the following consultants from Carson McDowell Solicitors: Declan Magee, Public Procurement Consultant and Catherine Thompson, Public Procurement Consultant. The session was recorded by Hansard.

Members noted a written submission received from the Drilling and Pumping Supplies Limited on the Committee Inquiry into Public Procurement Policy and Practice in NI.

Members were updated on the progress with the Committee’s Inquiry and were advised that a summary of the issues raised in the written evidence will be prepared by the Committee Secretariat following receipt of all submissions.

Mr McCann left the meeting at 11.25 am.
Mr McCann returned to the meeting at 11.26 am.
Mr McNarry left the meeting at 11.27 am.

5. Post Consultation Briefing on Pleural Plaques: DFP Briefing

The Committee was briefed by the following DFP officials: Oswyn Paulin, Departmental Solicitor, Departmental Solicitors Office; and Laura McPolin, Legal Policy Advisor, Departmental Solicitors Office.

Agreed : that a further evidence session will be scheduled into the Committee work programme on the outcome of the Minister’s consideration of the issues raised in the consultation exercise, which was completed on 12 January 2009.

6. Correspondence

The Committee noted the following correspondence:

Agreed: that the correspondence will be forwarded to DFP as requested;

Agreed: that the paper will be considered at the session to scrutinise the work of PEDU, which is currently scheduled for 11 March;

Agreed: that the paper will be considered at the DFP session on the evaluation of Workplace 2010 options, which is currently scheduled on 25 February;

Agreed: that the paper will be considered at the DFP briefing session on HR Connect, which is currently scheduled on 25 February;

Agreed : that the Department will be advised that the Committee has noted the Strategy;

Agreed : that the Committee will write to DFP to highlight its concern with the response and will arrange an oral evidence session with the relevant DFP officials;

Agreed: that the correspondence will be forwarded to OFMDFM.

Mr O’Loan left the meeting at 12.09 pm.

7. Committee Work Programme

Members considered the current draft of the Committee work programme until summer recess.

Members were advised that the representatives from BANKCheck will provide members with an independent view on the role of banks in the current downturn and that their papers will be commercially sensitive and personally confidential due to the nature of the business.

Agreed: that the evidence session with BANKCheck on 18 February will be held in closed session at the request of the witnesses and given the nature of the business under discussion.

Agreed: that the work programme, as amended, will be published on the website.

8. Any Other Business

Members noted the following DFP news releases:

9. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 18 February 2009 at 10.00 am in Room 152, Parliament Buildings. This will be followed by a concurrent meeting with the Committee for Regional Development at 1.30 pm in the Senate Chamber.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.11 pm.
Mitchel McLaughlin, Chairperson,
Committee for Finance and Personnel.
18 February 2009

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