COMMITTEE FOR FINANCE AND PERSONNEL
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
27 MAY 2009
ROOM 152, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Dr Stephen Farry MLA
Fra McCann MLA
Jennifer 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)
David McKee (Clerical Supervisor)
Chris McCreery (Clerical Officer)
Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (Chairperson)
Simon Hamilton MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Ian Paisley Jnr MLA
The meeting commenced at 10.03 am in open session.
Apologies are detailed above.
The Clerk informed members that both the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson would not be attending today’s meeting and invited nominations for a temporary Chairperson for today’s meeting.
It was proposed by Mr Weir and seconded by Mr McNarry that Dr Farry takes the chair of the Committee for today’s meeting.
It was proposed by Mr McCann and seconded by Dr Farry that Ms McCann takes the chair of the Committee for today’s meeting.
Mr Weir agreed to withdraw his proposal.
Agreed: that Ms McCann will take the chair of the Committee for today’s meeting.
Agreed: that the evidence from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and from DFP officials on the Budget (No 2) Bill 2009 and on the Department’s June 2009 Monitoring Round position will be recorded by Hansard and the Official Report published on the website.
2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 20 May 2009
Agreed: for publication on the Assembly website.
3. Matters Arising
The Committee noted the composite request for information from DFP which provided an update on any matters arising not covered elsewhere on the agenda.
Mr McNarry queried whether DFP had previously informed the Committee of the information relating to bonuses paid to senior civil servants, which was recently reported in the media.
Agreed: that clarification of this issue will be provided at the next meeting.
4. Committee Inquiry into Public Procurement Policy and Practice in Northern Ireland: Evidence from Confederation of British Industry (CBI)
The Committee took evidence from the following witnesses: Nigel Smyth, Director, CBI; Peter Spratt, Managing Director, Anderson Spratt Group (ASG); and Mark Campbell, Senior Manager, Randox Laboratories Ltd. The session was recorded by Hansard.
Agreed: that the witnesses will provide further information as requested by the Committee during the session.
Mr O’Loan left the meeting at 10.56 am.
Mr McNarry left the meeting at 11.25 am.
5. Budget (No 2) Bill 2009 and Main Estimates 2009/10: Evidence from DFP
The Committee took evidence from the following DFP officials: Paul Montgomery, Acting Head of Central Expenditure Division; Agnes Lennon, Central Expenditure Division; and Stephen Rusk, Finance Branch. The session was recorded by Hansard.
Mr McNarry joined the meeting at 11.32 am.
Agreed: that the DFP officials will provide further information requested by the Committee for the next meeting on 10 June 2009.
Question put: That the Committee for Finance and Personnel is satisfied that there has been appropriate consultation with it on the public expenditure proposals contained in the Budget (No 2) Bill 2009 and is content to grant accelerated passage to the Bill in accordance with Standing Order 42 (2).
The Committee divided: Ayes 6; Noes None; Abstentions 1.
Dr Farry; Mr McCann; Ms McCann; Mr McQuillan; Ms Purvis and Mr Weir.
Question accordingly agreed to.
Agreed: a letter to the Speaker informing him of the Committee’s decision on accelerated passage of the Budget (No 2) Bill 2009.
6. DFP June 2009 Monitoring Round Position: Evidence from DFP
The Committee took evidence from the following DFP officials: David Orr, Corporate Services Director and Adrian Doherty, Finance Branch. The session was recorded by Hansard.
Agreed: that the DFP officials will provide further information as requested by the Committee.
Mr Weir left the meeting at 11.46 am.
7. Assembly Research Paper: The Northern Ireland Mortgage Market
The Committee considered an Assembly Research paper on the Northern Ireland mortgage market.
Agreed: that, given the absence of mortgage lending data for Northern Ireland, the local building societies and banks which had agreed to give evidence to the Committee, would be asked to provide data on new lending, loan-to-value and the number of borrowers in arrears.
Members noted a composite pack of information compiled by the secretariat, containing the evidence received to date by the Committee on the activities of the local financial sector.
Agreed: that the evidence session from the Institute of Directors will be scheduled for the normal morning meeting on 10 June 2009.
Agreed: that formal invitations will issue to those organisations which had agreed to give evidence at the additional meeting scheduled for the afternoon of 17 June 2009.
Agreed: that further clarification will be sought from both the Halifax and the Progressive with a view to securing evidence sessions prior to the summer recess.
Dr Farry left the meeting at 12.12 pm.
8. Subordinate Legislation
The Committee considered a proposal from DFP to make a Statutory Rule under the Draft Valuation for Rating (Decapitalisation Rate) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2009.
Agreed: that further information will be requested from DFP on the potential financial implications of the proposed legislation.
The Committee noted the following correspondence:
- DFP: Follow up issues arising from the Construction Industry Forum for Northern Ireland;
- Assembly and Executive Review Committee: Letter to the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) on the financial implications of the devolution of policing and justice matters;
- Northern Ireland Environment Link (NIEL): request for meeting regarding “The Way Ahead 2009”, Briefing note and key recommendations;
Agreed : that, as the Committee had recently taken evidence from NIEL during the Committee Stage of the Building Regulations Bill and given the current pressures on the Committee’s work programme, a further briefing will not be scheduled at this stage;
- Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure: Invitation for DFP officials to attend a Seminar on Townland Names on 17 June 2009;
Agreed : that the invitation will be forwarded to DFP as requested;
- DFP: written update on progress on implementing the NI Data Protection Review action plan;
- DFP: Request for six-monthly updates to be provided by the Department on progress on the implementation of recommendations relating to managing absenteeism;
Agreed : that updates will be provided by DFP every six months as requested;
- Information Commissioner’s Office: Acknowledgement of recent briefing on Data Protection and Information Security Issues;
Dr Farry joined the meeting at 12.20 pm.
- DFP: Response to Mencap request to brief the Committee;
Agreed : that a briefing from Mencap will be arranged for 24 June 2009;
- Committee for OFMDFM: Proposals for Tribunal Reform;
Agreed : that the Committee will write to COFMDFM, seeking further clarification on the proposed reforms and an extension to the deadline for a response;
- Committee for OFMDFM: Response to Consumer Council request for an oral briefing
Agreed: that a briefing from the Consumer Council on the cost of insurance in Northern Ireland will be scheduled in the Committee work programme;
- Committee for OFMDFM: request for further update on Clawback of European Grants;
Agreed : that the request will be forwarded to DFP;
- Committee for OFMDFM: European Economic Recovery Plan;
- British Telecom: Next generation network rollout;
- DFP: Balanced Scorecards for 2009/10 for the 5 DFP Directorates ;
- DFP’s Central Procurement Directorate: Response on Procurement Issues relating to social clauses for stimulating apprenticeships and case law;
- DFP: Details of Scottish experience of procurement.
10. Committee Work Programme
Members considered the current draft of the Committee work programme until summer recess.
It was noted that the DFP briefing on the placement of a DFP official in the DG Regio’s office scheduled for 17 June 2009 had been postponed.
Members considered a draft itinerary for a proposed visit to Bryson House on 24 June 2009. Ms Purvis and Mr McNarry indicated that they would be unavailable.
Agreed: that members’ availability for the visit will be clarified before making further arrangements.
Agreed: that the current draft of the programme will be published on the Assembly website.
11. Any Other Business
Members noted an article in the Irish News ‘Bill aims to force dads to be named on birth certificates’.
11. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 10 June 2009 at 10.00 am in Room 152, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.27 pm.