COMMITTEE FOR FINANCE AND PERSONNEL
Minutes of Proceedings
11 March 2009
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
Dawn Purvis MLA
Peter Weir MLA
Shane McAteer (Assembly Clerk)
Vivien Ireland (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Colin Jones (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Heather Galbraith (Clerical Officer)
Chris McCreery (Clerical Officer)
Apologies: Jennifer McCann MLA
The meeting commenced at 10.07 am in open session.
Apologies are detailed above.
Agreed : that the evidence from Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) officials on Varney 2 and associated strategic economic issues and on the scrutiny of the Performance and Efficiency Delivery Unit will be recorded by Hansard and the finalised transcripts published on the website.
2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 4 March 2009
Agreed: for publication on the Assembly website.
Mr O’Loan left the meeting at 10. 08 am.
3. Matters Arising
The Committee noted the outstanding requests for information from DFP.
Members were reminded of the invite to dinner with the House of Lords Select Committee on the Barnett Formula on Thursday 26 March at 8.00 pm at a central Belfast hotel.
Agreed: that there should be cross-party representation at the event. The following members indicated that they would be attending: Mr McLaughlin, Sinn Féin; Dr Farry, Alliance Party and Mr McNarry, Ulster Unionist Party. The Secretariat will ascertain which of the other members will be attending and will confirm details of the event with members.
Mr O’Loan returned to the meeting at 10.10 am.
Members were advised that Assembly Research will be preparing a background briefing paper on the Barnett Formula which will be considered at the Committee’s meeting on 25 March.
4. Varney 2 and Strategic Economic Issues – Evidence from DFP
The Committee took evidence from the following DFP officials: Richard Pengelly, Budget Director; Michael Brennan, Chief Economist and Peter Jakobsen, Principal Economist. The session was recorded by Hansard.
Mr Hamilton left the meeting at 10.41 am.
Mr Weir left the meeting at 10.53 am.
Mr Weir returned to the meeting at 11.02 am.
Mr Hamilton returned to the meeting at 11.05 am.
Mr McNarry left the meeting at 11.09 am.
Ms Purvis left the meeting at 11.15 am.
Agreed: that the DFP officials will provide a report on government assets, including value of assets identified for disposal, costs of retention and approaches to valuation and write down.
Agreed: that a copy of the Hansard record will be copied to other statutory committees and that the Committee will review the evidence to consider how best to take forward the cross-cutting strategic economic issues with the Department.
5. Scrutiny of Performance and Efficiency Delivery Unit (PEDU) - Evidence from DFP
The Committee took evidence from Richard Pengelly, Head of PEDU, DFP. The session was recorded by Hansard.
Mr Weir left the meeting at 11.28 am.
Mr McNarry returned to the meeting at 11.30 am.
Mr Weir returned to the meeting at 11.35 am.
Mr Weir left the meeting at 11.37 am.
Mr Weir returned to the meeting at 11.40 am.
Mr McCann left the meeting at 11.41 am.
Mr McQuillan left the meeting at 11.42 am.
Mr McQuillan returned to the meeting at 11.43 am.
Agreed: that the DFP official will provide a work programme with associated timescales for PEDU’s future work.
6. Civil Registration Bill Committee Stage – Initial Consideration of the Draft Report
Members considered the first draft of the Committee Report on the Committee Stage of the Civil Registration Bill.
Dr Farry left the meeting at 11.54 am.
Mr McNarry left the meeting at 12.02 pm.
Agreed : that further clarification will be sought from the Department on the withdrawal of the previously agreed amendment to clause 14. The Committee also agreed that the report will be included on the agenda for next week’s meeting for formal consideration.
The Committee noted the following correspondence:
- DFP: Collaborative Law;
Agreed: that a paper will be requested from the Department on its position on Collaborative Law;
- World Wildlife Fund: Invite to opening of new city centre office;
- DFP: Response to British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly committee recommendation on migration statistics and the census in Northern Ireland;
Agreed: that the response from DFP will be copied to the Assembly Engagement Unit;
- DFP: Response to Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure in relation to townland names;
Agreed: that the response will be forwarded to the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure as requested;
- DFP: Memo to inform NIPSA of updated Workplace 2010 paper;
Members were advised that this memo had already been copied to NIPSA for information;
- Consumer Council: Briefing for the Treasury Committee on the banking crisis;
- The Gerry Rogan Initiative Trust: Corporate Social Responsibility Conference;
Agreed : that Mr McLaughlin and Mr Hamilton will be attending on behalf of the Committee;
- DFP: Response on issues relating to Access to Benefits Report;
Members had previously agreed to monitor the progress with the recommendations of the Access to Benefits Report on a six monthly basis;
- Consumer Council: Invitation to the launch of The Cost of Insurance in Northern Ireland Research Report;
- DFP: Response on issues arising from the evidence session on the outcome of the February Monitoring Round on 4 March 2009; and
- Committee for Social Development: Child Maintenance and Enforcement Division – Staff Payment Issues;
Agreed: that the correspondence will be forwarded to DFP for information as the issues relate to the HRConnect project.
8. Commissioned Research
Members considered two draft applications for commissioned research on priority areas which the Committee is scrutinising , one relating to public procurement and the other focusing on senior civil service pay and bonuses.
Agreed : to submit the bid for commissioned research in relation to the Committee’s ongoing inquiry into public procurement policy and practice in Northern Ireland.
Dr Farry returned to the meeting at 12.22 pm.
Agreed : that, whilst members are content with the application regarding senior civil service pay and bonuses, subject to minor amendment, it will not be put forward as a formal bid at this stage, as the Committee is awaiting a response from the Minister of Finance and Personnel to a recent recommendation from the Committee for an independent review of this policy area. The Committee agreed that, in the meantime, this proposal will be forwarded to the Commissioned Research Management Board for information only at this stage.
Mr Weir left the meeting at 12.25 pm.
9. Committee Work Programme
Members considered the current draft of the Committee work programme until summer recess.
Members were advised that the Chancellor’s Budget Statement is due on 22 April 2009.
Agreed : that information will be requested from DFP on the potential implications of the Chancellor’s Budget Statement for Northern Ireland.
Agreed : that the current draft of the programme will be published on the Assembly website.
10. Any Other Business
11. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 18 March 2009 at 10.00 am in Room 152, Parliament Buildings.The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.25 pm.