COMMITTEE FOR FINANCE AND PERSONNEL
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
24 JUNE 2009
ROOM 152, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (Chairperson)
Dr Stephen Farry MLA
Fra McCann MLA
Jennifer McCann MLA
David McNarry MLA
Declan O’Loan MLA
Shane McAteer (Assembly Clerk)
Vivien Ireland (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Karen Jardine (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
David McKee (Clerical Supervisor)
Chris McCreery (Clerical Officer)
The meeting commenced at 10.04 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) officials on the performance against targets in the DFP Public Service Agreements and Business Plan 2008/09; and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) on the Committee Inquiry into Public Procurement Policy and Practice in Northern Ireland.
2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 17 June 2009
Members considered the draft minutes of proceedings of 17 June 2009 in respect of the morning meeting, which was held in Room 152 and the afternoon meeting which took place in the Senate Chamber.
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.
Members considered a proposal from the Chairperson to publish all the papers and correspondence with DFP on the issue of senior civil servants’ pay and bonuses. In this regard, members noted a covering memo from the Chairperson to all MLAs and the relevant papers contained in the information brief. This would inform the plenary debate Committee motion on senior civil service pay and bonuses on Monday 29 June 2009.
Agreed: that the covering memo, the background briefing paper prepared by Assembly Research, and the relevant papers in the information brief will be published on the Committee website and papers laid in the Assembly Library ahead of the plenary debate.
Members considered a letter by the First Division Association (FDA) entitled ‘Criticism of civil servants’ bonuses unfair’, which was published in the Irish News on Monday 22 June.
Agreed: that the Chairperson will write to the Irish News in response to the FDA letter outlining the general Committee position on this issue.
Members noted the DFP response to Mencap’s Changing Places proposal.
Agreed: to make the DFP response to Mencap’s Changing Places proposal available to the witnesses from Mencap.
4. Performance Against Targets in DFP PSAs and Business Plan 2008/09: Evidence from DFP
The Committee took evidence from the following DFP officials: David Orr, Director of Corporate Services Group and Deborah McNeilly, Finance Director. The session was recorded by Hansard.
Dr Farry joined the meeting at 10.34 am
Mr McCann left the meeting at 11.03 am
Mr McCann joined the meeting at 11.11 am
Ms McCann left the meeting at 11.12 am
Mr McNarry left the meeting at 11.22 am
Ms McCann joined the meeting at 11.30 am
Mr McCann declared an interest as a member of Belfast City Council.
Agreed: that DFP officials will provide information as requested by the Committee during the evidence session, including a revised version of the report on DFP Performance against 2008/09 PSA and Departmental targets, with tracked changes.
Agreed: that the Committee will advise the incoming Minister of Finance and Personnel and the incoming DFP Permanent Secretary of the areas of concern arising from its scrutiny of departmental performance in the current session.
5. Committee Inquiry into Public Procurement Policy and Practice in Northern Ireland: Evidence from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
The Committee took evidence from the following RICS representatives:Ann Stewart, Public Policy Executive; John Phelan, Head of Construction Group; and Colm Lavery, Deputy Head of Construction Group. The session was recorded by Hansard.
Mr McNarry joined the meeting at 11.30 am
Ms McCann joined the meeting at 11.31 am
Mr O’Loan left the meeting at 11.47 am
Mr O’Loan joined the meeting at 11.51 am
Mr McCann left the meeting at 12.06 pm
Mr McCann joined the meeting at 12.11 pm
Agreed: that the RICS representatives will provide information as requested by the Committee during the evidence session.
Agreed: that all written evidence submitted to the Committee Inquiry into Public Procurement Policy and Practice in Northern Ireland and the Official Report from this evidence session will be forwarded to DFP for comment.
Agreed: to request from DFP an assessment of progress by departments in the implementation of investment delivery plans and the implications which any slippage will have on budgets for 2009/10.
Members noted a response from the Ulster Community Investment Trust on a number of queries raised by the Committee at its meeting on 13 May 2009.
Members considered a request from the Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA) to give oral evidence to the Committee’s Inquiry into Public Procurement Policy and Practice in Northern Ireland
Agreed: that RSUA will be invited to give oral evidence to the Committee’s Inquiry into Public Procurement Policy and Practice in Northern Ireland after summer recess.
Mr McNarry left the meeting at 12.30 pm
6. Subordinate Legislation
The Committee considered Statutory Rule 2009: Lands Tribunal (Salaries) Order (Northern Ireland) 2009 and the accompanying explanatory memorandum, which had been laid in the Business Office by DFP. Members noted that the Committee previously considered the initial proposal for this Statutory Rule on 29 April 2009 and was content with the policy implications of the proposed legislation at that stage.
The Committee noted the Seventeenth Report from the Examiner of Statutory Rules, which raised no issues by way of technical scrutiny.
Members noted a revised DFP response to the Committee request for clarification on judicial posts.
Agreed: that the Committee for Finance and Personnel has considered the Lands Tribunal (Salaries) Order (Northern Ireland) 2009 and recommends that it be affirmed by the Assembly.
7. Changing Places Campaign: Briefing from Mencap
The Committee received a briefing from the following Mencap representatives: Rebecca Shea, Campaigns Manager; Graeme Neill, Director of City Regional National Financial Group; and Arthur Rafferty, parent of a child with a disability.
Mr McNarry joined the meeting at 12.37pm
Agreed: that Mencap will provide details of the District Councils that responded to their Changing Places Campaign
Agreed: that the Committee will write to the Minister recommending that Northern Ireland takes the lead in amending the Building Regulations to provide the necessary facilities for people with complex health needs, as proposed by the Changing Places campaign.
Agreed: that the Committee will also consider other options to support the Changing Places campaign.
Agreed: that the Committee will write to the Assembly Commission recommending that a Changing Places facility be made available within Parliament Buildings.
The Committee noted the following correspondence:
- Assembly and Executive Review Committee : Devolution of Policing and Justice Matters;
- Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister: Children and Young People’s Action Plan;
Agreed: that the Committee will request a progress report from DFP on the elements of the action plan that relate to the Department;
- Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment: Committee request for information on the payment of Government invoices within the 10-day Target;
Agreed: to write to the Minister expressing concern at departmental performance in meeting the 10-day target and request from DFP comparative figures for performance by other jurisdictions in this regard;
Mr O’Loan left the meeting at 12.47pm.
- Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development: Invite for officials from Account NI to discuss delays in issuing payments;
Agreed: to forward the invitation to DFP;
- DFP: Supply role in monitoring Post Project Evaluations;
Agreed: to write to the Minister to express concern at the backlog of outstanding Post Project Evaluations, and to request a further update in the autumn. It was also agreed to copy the letter and the DFP paper to the Public Accounts Committee and the Northern Ireland Audit Office;
- DFP: Reply from Minister regarding the late receipt of a briefing paper from Departmental officials for the session on the Performance and Efficiency Delivery Unit's Review of the Delivery of Public Service Agreements, which was scheduled for 10 June.
9. 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.
10. Any Other Business
11. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 1 July 2009 at 10.00 am in Room 152, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.08pm.