COMMITTEE FOR FINANCE AND PERSONNEL
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
13 JANUARY 2010
ROOM 135, 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
Adrian McQuillan 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)
The meeting commenced at 10.06 am in open session.
There were no apologies.
Agreed: that the evidence sessions from Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) officials at agenda items 4, 5 and 7 will be recorded by Hansard, and the Official Report published on the website.
2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 6 January 2010
Mr O’Loan indicated that, in relation to Item 7: Subordinate Legislation: the draft Rates (Regional Rates) Order (NI) 2010, it had been his intention to support the proposal for the subordinate legislation during the Committee vote on the issue.
Agreed: to record Mr O’Loan’s intention to support the proposal for subordinate legislation.
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 also noted correspondence from the Minister of Finance and Personnel on the Review of the Executive’s 2008-11 Budget Process and the Review of Spending Plans for Northern Ireland Departments 2010-11, in which he advised of his availability to brief the Committee on the latter issue.
Agreed: to invite the Minister of Finance and Personnel to brief the Committee on the Review of Spending Plans 2010-11 at a special meeting on Monday 8 February, providing an earlier date cannot be scheduled.
4. Outcome of December 2009 Monitoring Round (DFP Briefing)
The Committee took evidence from the following DFP officials: Michael Daly, Head of Central Expenditure Division, Central Finance Group, DFP; Joanne McBurney, Central Expenditure Division, DFP; and Deborah McNeilly, Finance Director, Finance Division, DFP.
The session was recorded by Hansard.
Mr Paisley Jr joined the meeting at 10.14am.
Mr Paisley Jr left the meeting at 10.23am.
Dr Farry left the meeting at 10.27am.
Ms Purvis joined the meeting at 10.30am.
Dr Farry returned to the meeting at 10.31am.
5. Strategic Financial Pressures (Evidence from DFP)
Dr Farry declared an interest as a member of North Down Borough Council.
The Committee took evidence from the following DFP officials: Richard Pengelly, Public Spending Director, Central Finance Group, DFP; Paul Montgomery, Central Expenditure Division, DFP; and Adrian Arbuthnot, Supply Division, DFP.
The session was recorded by Hansard.
Agreed: a list of issues on Strategic Financial Pressures for forwarding to DFP for a written response in order to inform the Committee’s forthcoming report on the Review of Spending Plans for NI Departments 2010-11.
Mr Paisley Jr returned to the meeting at 10.38am.
Mr McNarry joined the meeting at 10.47am.
Mr Weir left the meeting at 10.51am.
Mr Weir returned to the meeting at 10.53am.
Mr Hamilton left the meeting at 10.55am.
Mr Weir left the meeting at 10.59am.
Mr Hamilton returned to the meeting at 11.04am.
Mr Weir returned to the meeting at 11.09am.
Mr Paisley Jr left the meeting at 11.15am.
Mr Weir left the meeting at 11.20am.
Mr Weir returned to the meeting at 11.26am.
Mr Hamilton left the meeting at 11.38am.
Mr Hamilton returned to the meeting at 11.39am.
Mr McCann left the meeting at 11.40am.
Dr Farry left the meeting at 11.47am.
Mr McCann returned to the meeting at 11.55am.
Mr McLaughlin left the meeting at 11.56am.
Mr McLaughlin returned to the meeting at 11.58am.
Agreed: that the DFP officials will provide information as requested by the Committee during the evidence session.
Members noted that the Minister’s statement of 12 January 2010 asked for the Committee to publish its co-ordinated Report on the Review of 2010-11 Spending Plan by the end of February and subsequently considered whether the draft timetable for completion of the report should be amended.
Agreed: that the Committee will endeavour to complete its report by its scheduled meeting on Wednesday 3 March at the latest, whilst recognising the need for all statutory committees to be afforded sufficient time for scrutiny.
The Committee also considered a draft minute to the Business Office seeking a “take note” debate on the Review of 2010-11 Spending Plans.
Agreed: that the minute will be submitted to the Business Office requesting that the “take note” debate be scheduled for 15 or 16 February 2010.
Mr McNarry left the meeting at 12.07pm.
6. Assembly Research Briefing: Presumption of Advancement
The Chairperson left the meeting at 12.09pm.
The Deputy Chairperson took the Chair at 12.09pm.
The Committee considered a paper by Assembly Research on the Legislative Consent Motion: The Presumption of Advancement.
7. Legislative Consent Motion – Presumption of Advancement (DFP Briefing)
The Chairperson returned to the meeting and took the Chair at 12.13pm.
The Committee took evidence from the following Departmental Solicitor’s Office officials: Oswyn Paulin, Departmental Solicitor and Head of the Government Legal Service and Neil Lambe, Principal Legal Officer, Civil Law Reform Division, Departmental Solicitor’s Office.
The session was recorded by Hansard.
Agreed: that Committee for Finance and Personnel supports the Department of Finance and Personnel in seeking the Assembly’s endorsement of the principle of the extension to Northern Ireland of the proposed amendment to the GB Equality Bill to abolish what remains of the doctrine of Presumption of Advancement.
Mr McNarry returned to the meeting at 12.22pm.
The Committee noted the following correspondence:
- Committee for Regional Development: Accessible Transport;
- DFP: Analysis on the rating of empty homes;
- DFP: Briefing paper on green rates rebate scheme;
Agreed: to schedule a briefing from DFP officials on the proposed Green Rates Rebate Scheme for 3 February 2010.
- DFP: Monitoring Post Project Evaluations;
Agreed: to copy the correspondence to all other statutory committees, the Public Accounts Committee and the Northern Ireland Audit Office.
- DFP: Departmental Performance in Responding to Committee Requests;
- DFP: Forecast Outturn Tables and additional information; and,
Agreed: to defer the discussion on this issue until the DFP evidence session on the Review of the Budget and In-Year Monitoring Process scheduled, for 20 January 2010.
- DFP: Boiler Scrappage Scheme.
9. Committee Work Programme
Members considered the current draft of the Committee work programme until March 2010.
Agreed: to forward the DFP Options Paper on Rate Relief for Pensioner Carers to Carers NI in advance of the evidence session scheduled for 24 February 2010 on this matter.
Members noted that, given the heavy agenda over the next two meetings, it may be necessary to hold extended meetings with working lunches.
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, 20 January 2010 at 10.00am in Room 135
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.30 pm.