COMMITTEE FOR FINANCE AND PERSONNEL
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
23 SEPTEMBER 2009
ROOM 152, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Jennifer McCann MLA (Chairperson)
Peter Weir MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Dr Stephen Farry MLA
Simon Hamilton MLA
Fra McCann MLA
Mitchel McLaughlin MLA
David McNarry MLA
Declan O’Loan MLA
Ian Paisley Jr MLA
Dawn Purvis MLA
Shane McAteer (Assembly Clerk)
Kathy O’Hanlon (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Karen Jardine (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
David McKee (Clerical Supervisor)
Kevin Marks (Clerical Officer)
Adrian McQuillan MLA
There was one apology as detailed above.
Agreed: that the following evidence sessions will be recorded by Hansard and the Official Report published on the website: Role of the Local Banks in the Current Economic Downturn – Evidence from Northern Bank; Performance and Efficiency Delivery Unit’s (PEDU) Review of Land & Property Services – Evidence from Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP); and Proposed Amendments to Financial Provisions Bill – Evidence from DFP.
2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 16 September 2009
Agreed: that the minutes be published 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 further correspondence from DFP on the timing of the introduction of rating of empty homes, which included information requested by the Committee and which sought the Committee’s position on the matter.
Agreed: that the Committee sees merit in the rating of vacant domestic properties, but recognises that current economic circumstances are not conducive to early introduction of this measure. As such, members agreed that DFP should review, in 2010, the timing of the introduction of rating of empty homes.
Agreed: the Committee will notify DFP of the outcome of its discussions on this matter.
The Committee discussed recent media reports of proposals for departmental spending cuts being considered by the Executive. The Committee also noted a BBC News Release, which reported comments by the First Minister that the Minister of Finance and Personnel will be publishing a budget report in the near future.
Agreed: the Committee will seek clarification from DFP on the reports of an impending budget process. Members also agreed to invite the Minister and/or his officials to brief the Committee on this matter as soon as possible.
5. Role of the Local Banks in alleviating the Current Economic Downturn: Evidence from Northern Bank
The Committee took evidence from the following Northern Bank officials: Ben Christensen – Deputy Chief Executive & Head of Business Development, Northern Bank; and Danny Stinton – Head of Strategic Planning, Northern Bank. The session was recorded by Hansard.
Mr Hamilton joined the meeting at 10.29am.
Mr Paisley Jr left the meeting at 10.39am.
Mr Weir left the meeting at 10.43am.
Mr Weir returned to the meeting at 10.50am.
Dr Farry left the meeting at 10.47am.
5. Assembly Research Briefing: Penny Product Calculation
The Committee considered an Assembly Research paper on the Penny Product Process.
Mr McNarry left the meeting at 11.01am.
Mr McNarry returned to the meeting at 11.06am.
Dr Farry returned to the meeting at 11.08am.
Mr Paisley Jr returned to the meeting at 11.08am.
Mr McLaughlin left the meeting at 11.10am.
Mr Weir left the meeting at 11.10am.
6. PEDU Review of Land & Property Services: Evidence from DFP
The Committee took evidence from the following DFP officials; Stephen Peover - Permanent Secretary, DFP; John Wilkinson - Chief Executive, LPS; Iain Greenway, Director of Operations, LPS and Alan Bronte, Director of Valuation, LPS. The session was recorded by Hansard.
Dr Farry declared an interest as a member of North Down Borough Council.
Mr Weir returned to the meeting at 11.15am.
Mr McLaughlin returned to the meeting at 11.16am.
Mr McCann left the meeting at 11.19am.
Mr Weir left the meeting at 11.32am.
Mr Weir rejoined the meeting at 11.44am.
Mr Paisley Jr left the meeting at 11.58am.
The Chairperson left the meeting at 12.04pm.
The Deputy Chairperson took the Chair at 12.04pm.
The Chairperson returned to the meeting and retook the Chair at 12.07pm.
Mr Weir left the meeting at 12.09pm.
Mr McNarry left the meeting at 12.46pm.
Agreed: that the DFP officials will provide information as requested by the Committee during the evidence session.
Agreed: that the Committee will forward a copy of the Assembly Research Paper on the Penny Product Calculation to DFP for consideration and response.
Agreed: that DFP officials will brief the Committee on the revaluation of non domestic properties when interim analysis/conclusions have been completed.
7. Proposed Amendments to Financial Provisions Bill: DFP Evidence Session
The Committee took evidence from the following DFP officials: Deborah McNeilly - Head of Finance Branch, DFP; and Brenda Shearer - Central Expenditure Division, DFP. The session was recorded by Hansard.
Mr McNarry returned to the meeting at 12.58pm.
Agreed: that the Committee will ask the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister for its response to the two clauses that have been proposed for inclusion in the Bill by the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (OFMDFM). The Committee will also seek clarification on whether there is a requirement for statutory authority to be provided for in respect of spending for older people, and if this is something that should be considered by OFMDFM.
The Committee noted the following correspondence:
- Civil Servant – Equal Pay Issue; and
- Assembly and Executive Review Committee – Devolution of Policing and Justice Matters
9. Committee Work Programme
Members considered the current draft of the Committee work programme until Christmas recess.
Agreed: that the current draft of the programme be published on the Assembly website.
Agreed: a draft itinerary for the visit to Bryson House on 14 October 2009.
The Committee discussed the arrangements for the Public Procurement Stakeholder Conference on 21 October 2009, which will contribute to the ongoing Inquiry into Public Procurement Policy and Practice in Northern Ireland.
Agreed: that the Committee will invite the chairpersons, deputy chairpersons and clerks of the committees for OFMDFM, Regional Development, Employment and Learning, and Enterprise, Trade and Investment to participate in the conference, as these committees had made submissions to the inquiry.
Agreed: a list of further participants suggested by members to date. Members will forward any additional suggested participants to the Clerk as soon as possible, to reflect, as far as possible, the balance between the SME and Social Economy sectors.
Agreed: that the written submissions received to date on the inquiry will be published on the Committee website to allow conference participants to review the evidence in advance of the conference.
10. Any Other Business
11. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 30 September 2009 at 10.00am in Room 152.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.10 pm.