COMMITTEE FOR FINANCE AND PERSONNEL
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
10 JUNE 2009
ROOM 152, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (Chairperson)
Simon Hamilton MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Fra McCann MLA
Jennifer McCann MLA
Adrian McQuillan MLA
Declan O’Loan MLA
Ian Paisley Jnr MLA
Dawn Purvis MLA
Shane McAteer (Assembly Clerk)
Vivien Ireland (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Colin Jones (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
David McKee (Clerical Supervisor)
Chris McCreery (Clerical Officer)
Dr Stephen Farry MLA
David McNarry MLA
Peter Weir MLA
The meeting commenced at 10.06 am in open session.
Apologies are detailed above.
Agreed : that the following evidence sessions will be recorded by Hansard and the Official Report published on the website: Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) on the Performance and Efficiency Delivery Unit (PEDU) Review of Public Service Agreement Delivery; Martin and Hamilton Limited on the Committee Inquiry into Public Procurement Policy and Practice in Northern Ireland; and the Institute of Directors (IOD) on accessing finance from local banks.
2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 27 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 McQuillan left the meeting at 10.08 am.
Mr McQuillan returned to the meeting at 10.09 am.
Members discussed a draft Committee motion for a plenary debate on senior civil service pay and bonuses, which was proposed by the Chairperson.
Agreed: that the proposed motion on senior civil service pay and bonuses will be considered further at next week’s meeting.
Ms Purvis referred to a response received from Central Procurement Directorate (CPD) regarding to the application of the Public Contract Regulations 2006 to the procurement of social housing.
Agreed : to request clarification from CPD on t he scope for achieving flexibility in the application of the 2006 Regulations by the way in which the predominant purpose/objective of the contract is framed.
Members noted a response from DFP on the breakdown of borrowing from the Consolidated Fund, which had been raised during the evidence session on the Budget (No. 2) Bill 2009 on 27 May 2009.
Mr Hamilton left the meeting at 10.27 am.
4. Committee Inquiry into Public Procurement Policy and Practice in Northern Ireland: Evidence from Martin and Hamilton Ltd
The Committee took evidence from David Hamilton, Managing Director, Martin and Hamilton Ltd. The session was recorded by Hansard.
Mr Paisley Jnr left the meeting at 10.41 am.
Ms McCann left the meeting at 11.03 am.
Agreed : that the Committee will write to Martin and Hamilton Ltd if it requires any further information on the issues discussed during the session.
5. PEDU Review of PSA Delivery: Evidence from DFP
The Committee had been scheduled to take oral evidence from the following DFP officials: Mr Richard Pengelly, Head of PEDU and Public Spending Director; Mr Shane Murphy, PEDU.
Members discussed a briefing paper from the DFP officials which had been tabled at the meeting. Due to the lateness of the briefing paper, members raised concerns that they had not been given enough time to fully consider it in advance of the PEDU evidence session. It was noted that the session had been scheduled in the Committee work programme for some time.
Agreed : that the evidence session with the DFP officials will be rescheduled to next week’s meeting and that the Committee’s dissatisfaction at the level of service provided by the DFP officials on this occasion will be raised with the Department, both by the Chairperson to the Minister and at official level.
6. Survey on Northern Ireland Businesses Accessing Finances from Local Banks: Evidence from Institute of Directors (IOD)
The Committee took evidence from the following IOD officials: Linda Brown, Divisional Director; Michael Murray, Chairman, Economic Strategy Committee and Joanne Stuart, Chairman. The session was recorded by Hansard.
Ms McCann returned to the meeting at 11.14 am.
Mr McCann left the meeting at 11.17 am.
Mr Paisley Jnr returned to the meeting at 11.18 am.
Mr McQuillan left the meeting at 11.27 am.
Ms Purvis left the meeting at 11.42 am.
Ms Purvis returned to the meeting at 11.44 am.
Mr McQuillan returned to the meeting at 11.49 am.
Mr Paisley Jnr left the meeting at 11.51 am.
Mr McCann returned to the meeting at 11.53 am.
7. Subordinate Legislation
The Committee considered the following proposal from DFP for subordinate legislation: Draft Valuation for Rating (Decapitalisation Rate) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2009. Members also considered further clarification from the Department on the financial implications of the proposed legislation.
Agreed : that the Committee was content with the policy implications of the proposed legislation at this stage.
The Committee noted the following correspondence:
- DFP: Update on Clawback of EU Grants;
Agreed : that the correspondence will be forwarded to the Committee of the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (COFMDFM) for information ;
- DFP: Equal Pay Follow Up;
- NIPSA: Update on NICS Equal Pay Negotiations;
- DFP News Release: Dodds Expresses Determination to Resolve Equal Pay For Civil Servants;
- Query from civil servant in Department for Agriculture and Rural Development regarding Equal Pay issue and subsequent follow up correspondence with Clerk;
Agreed : that DFP will be requested to provide monthly progress reports for July and August on the equal pay issue. Members also agreed that the Minister of Finance and Personnel will be invited to update the Committee on progress on the equal pay issue, including the outcome of the review of the Technical Grades I and II, at the first meeting after summer recess.
- Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment (CETI): Matrix of Business Support;
- DFP: Response on Dormant Accounts;
Agreed : that the Committee will request the Department to provide a report on the outcome from the forthcoming consultation on spending priorities;
- DFP: Response to Committee for the Environment on Climate Change Targets;
Agreed : that the response will be forwarded to the Committee for the Environment;
- DFP: Response to Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure (CAL) in respect of invite to Townland Names Seminar;
Agreed : that the correspondence will be forwarded to the CAL Committee;
- DFP: Special EU Programmes Body to give evidence to COFMDFM;
Agreed : that the correspondence will be forwarded to COFMDFM;
- Northern Ireland Law Commission: Correspondence inviting response to Land Law Consultation Paper and Executive Summary;
Agreed : to request a report on the outcome of the consultation on Land Law Reform; and
- CETI: Motion for “Take Note” Debate and draft Committee response;
Agreed as amended : response to issue to CETI.
9. Committee Work Programme
Members considered the current draft of the Committee work programme until summer recess.
Members had agreed earlier that the proposed motion for a plenary debate on senior civil service pay and bonuses will be considered further at next week’s meeting.
Agreed: that the Secretariat will give advance notice to the Business Office of the possibility of a Committee motion on senior civil service pay and bonuses being laid after the meeting on 17 June, with a view to a plenary debate before summer recess.
Members noted the Secretariat paper on the scheduling of the oral evidence sessions with banks and mortgage lenders on the afternoon of 17 June 2009.
Agreed: that a working lunch will be arranged for the Committee in Room 152 on 17 June 2009 between the morning meeting in Room 152 and the afternoon meeting in the Senate Chamber.
Members noted that Mr Ben Christensen, Deputy Chief Executive, Northern Bank is unavailable on both the afternoon of 17 June and on 1 July.
Agreed: that a draft letter to the Northern Bank, seeking a written response on specific issues, will be considered at next week’s meeting.
Members noted the response from the Progressive Building Society in relation to its decision to decline the invitation to brief the Committee.
Members considered a r equest from DFP to postpone the session on the NICS Employment Equality and Diversity Plan on 17 June. In addition, members considered an Executive Summary of an InterTradeIreland research study into All Island Public Procurement and discussed the possibility of receiving a presentation on this research.
Agreed: that the session on the NICS Employment Equality and Diversity Plan, scheduled for 17 June 2009, will be postponed and, in place of this session, to schedule a presentation from InterTradeIreland on the research study entitled All-Island Public Procurement: A Competitiveness Study.
Members discussed the proposal for a Committee meeting/visit to Bryson Charitable Group on 24 June.
Agreed : to reschedule the meeting/visit to Bryson House to after summer recess, which will enable a normal morning Committee meeting to be dedicated to taking evidence from Bryson Charitable Group, followed by a site tour.
Agreed : that the current draft of the programme will be published on the Assembly website.
10. Any Other Business
Members noted an article in the Irish News entitled ‘ Data fears after PCs stolen ’. In addition, members were reminded of the update given by DFP on 20 May on the progress in implementing the first data security review.
Agreed : to raise a number of specific queries with DFP on the recent theft of laptops in Royston House and to advise the Department of the Committee’s concern at the time taken to implement the first data security review and at the delay in being briefed on the second review.
11. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 17 June 2009 at 10.00 am in Room 152 and that the afternoon session at 12.45 pm will take place in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings.The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.17 pm.