COMMITTEE FOR FINANCE AND PERSONNEL
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
1 APRIL 2009
ROOM 152, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (Chairperson)
Simon Hamilton MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Dr Stephen Farry MLA
Fra McCann MLA
Declan O’Loan MLA
Ian Paisley Jnr MLA
Peter Weir MLA
Stephen Graham (Assembly Clerk)
Vivien Ireland (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Colin Jones (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
David McKee (Clerical Supervisor)
Chris McCreery (Clerical Officer)
Jennifer McCann MLA
David McNarry MLA
Adrian McQuillan MLA
Dawn Purvis MLA
The meeting commenced at 10.03 am in open session.
Apologies are detailed above.
2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 25 March 2009
Agreed: for publication on the Assembly website.
3. Matters Arising
The Committee noted the composite request for information from the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) which provided an update on any matters arising not covered elsewhere on the agenda.
The Committee noted that DFP officials had stated that the evidence given to the Committee on Workplace 2010, in closed session, on 18 June 2008 was no longer confidential.
Agreed: that the Official Report of this session will be published on the Assembly website.
Members noted that, further to last week’s consideration of the request from the Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT) to brief the Committee, the Clerk had been in contact with UCIT and had liaised with the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment (CETI). It was noted that the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment had lead responsibility for the Social Economy, around which UCIT had most concern .
Agreed: that, to avoid an overlap in committee business, the Committee for Finance and Personnel will invite UCIT to give oral evidence on issues such as public procurement and the ring fencing of dormant bank account funds, which are within the remit of DFP and that CETI will be informed of this approach.
Members noted that, following last week’s discussions with the Lords Select Committee on the Barnett formula, the views of those members who had attended had been included in a secretariat paper for consideration.
Members noted that a lecture from Professor David Heald on ‘Should Northern Ireland Wish the Abolition of the Barnett Formula’ will be held on 2 April 2009 in the University of Ulster, Jordanstown and that a representative from Assembly Research will attend and report back to the Committee.
Members noted that the All Party Construction Group had been considering how the construction industry could obtain fuller and more timely information on Departmental capital spend. It was noted that the Committee had raised this issue with DFP on several occasions and had obtained various commitments from the Department, especially in relation to the publication of Departmental Investment Delivery Plans and the introduction of a tracking system from August 2008 which will capture and report on all information relating to public sector capital procurements.
Agreed: that this information will be provided for all Committee members.
4. Financing Strategic Investment: Evidence from DFP and Strategic Investment Board (SIB)
Members were informed that DFP’s submission to accompany today’s briefing had not been received until late on Monday afternoon and had been classified as ‘restricted.’ DFP officials had therefore requested that the briefing is held in closed session.
Agreed: that the briefing will be held in closed session as requested by DFP, but will be recorded by Hansard and the finalised transcript published on the Assembly website once the restriction is lifted.
The meeting continued in closed session from 10.12 am.
The Committee took evidence from the following officials: Richard Pengelly, Public Spending Director, DFP; Paul Montgomery, Central Expenditure Division, DFP and David Gavaghan, Chief Executive, SIB.
Dr Farry left the meeting at 10.40 am.
Agreed: that the officials will follow up on information requested by the Committee during the session and will review the classification of the submission provided to the Committee.
Agreed: that, subject to the Department’s agreement, the DFP submission will be issued to the Committee of the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (COFMDFM), which also has an interest in this issue.
The meeting continued in open session from 11.35 am.
Mr Paisley left the meeting at 11.35 am.
5. Quarterly Update on Implementation of Northern Ireland Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Recommendations on Managing Absenteeism: Briefing from DFP
The Committee was briefed by the following DFP officials: Derek Baker, Director of Central Personnel Group; Grace Nesbitt, Deputy Director, Central Personnel Group, and Dr John Mallon, Head of HR Consultancy Services, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.
Agreed: that the DFP officials will follow up on information requested by the Committee during the session.
6. Financial Provisions Bill Committee Stage: Evidence from DFP
The Committee noted that it had previously been briefed by DFP officials on 4 February 2009, prior to the introduction of the Financial Provisions Bill to the Assembly.
Members noted that CETI, PAC and the Audit Committee had no issues to raise in relation to the Bill and that no responses had been received to date to the Committee’s public consultation on the Bill.
The Committee took evidence from the following DFP officials: David Thomson, Treasury Officer of Accounts; Michael Daly, Central Finance Group and Brenda Shearer, Central Expenditure Division. The session was recorded by Hansard.
The Committee noted the following correspondence:
- Committee for Social Development: Post Project Evaluations;
- DFP: Response to Committee on Procedures’ Inquiry into Legislative Consent Motions;
- DFP: Response on DFP position regarding Collaborative Law;
The Committee noted that it had issued a holding reply to the Association for Collaborative Law, until information had been supplied from DFP;
Agreed : that the Committee will not seek a briefing from the Association for Collaborative Law at this time;
- DFP: Terms of Reference for Performance and Efficiency Delivery Unit’s Review of Land and Property Services;
Agreed : that a briefing on the outcome of this Review will be scheduled in the Committee’s work programme;
- DFP: Interim Response on the Claw Back of European Union Grants;
Agreed : that the response will be issued to COFMDFM;
- DFP: Response on Strategic Economic Issues;
Agreed : that the Committee had previously emphasised the need for a co-ordinated approach to monitoring progress on implementing the recommendations in Varney’s second report and will request an update from DFP.
8. Committee Work Programme
Members considered the current draft of the Committee work programme until summer recess.
Agreed: that the current draft of the programme will be published on the Assembly website.
9. Any Other Business
The Committee considered the secretariat paper containing the views of those Committee members who had attended discussions with the House of Lords Select Committee on the Barnett formula.
Agreed: that the Committee will write to the Minister of Finance and Personnel, asking the Executive to reconsider its decision not to make a submission to the House of Lords Select Committee Inquiry.
Agreed: that the secretariat paper and the letter to the Minister will be forwarded to COFMDFM for information.
10. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 22 April 2009 at 10.00 am in Room 152, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.15 pm.