COMMITTEE FOR FINANCE AND PERSONNEL
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
WEDNESDAY, 26 MAY 2010
ROOM 30, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Ms Jennifer McCann MLA (Chairperson)
Mr David McNarry (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Jonathan Craig MLA
Dr Stephen Farry MLA
Mr Simon Hamilton MLA
Mr Fra McCann MLA
Mr Adrian McQuillan MLA
Ms Dawn Purvis MLA
Mr Shane McAteer (Assembly Clerk)
Miss Karen Jardine (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Mrs Kathy O’Hanlon (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Mr David McKee (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr Dominic O’Farrell (Clerical Officer)
Mr Mitchel McLaughlin MLA
Mr Declan O’Loan MLA
The meeting commenced at 10.13 am in open session.
Apologies are detailed above.
2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 19 May 2010
Agreed: that the minutes are published on the Assembly website.
Agreed: that the evidence sessions with witnesses from the Scottish Parliament and the House of Commons; the Northern Ireland Electrical Standards Lobby Group (NIESLG); and the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) at agenda items 7, 11 and 12 are recorded by Hansard and the Official Reports published on the 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.
Support for Carers
The Committee considered a draft press release welcoming the Minister’s recent commitment to provide additional support for carers through an increase in the Carers’ Premium under the low income rate relief scheme.
Members noted that Assembly Research is undertaking a scoping study to assist in the development of a draft outline Terms of Reference for an ad-hoc joint committee which could consider these matters.
Agreed: that the press release is issued.
Banking Issues - Irish Bank Officials Association
The Committee considered a written response from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (COFMDFM) regarding its proposal for a way forward on this issue; and noted informal verbal communication from the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment which indicated that it was also content.
Agreed: to write to the Finance Minister on the basis agreed at last week’s meeting.
Construction Contracts (Amendment) Bill
The Committee considered a draft Committee Motion seeking an extension to the Committee Stage of the Construction Contracts (Amendment) Bill. Members also noted a proposed list of key stakeholders to which the Committee Secretariat will write directly to draw attention to the call for evidence recently published in local newspapers.
Agreed: to table the Committee Motion in the Business Office seeking an extension to the Committee Stage of the Construction Contracts (Amendment) Bill.
Agreed: that members will forward any additions to the list of key stakeholders to staff by the end of the week.
4. Committee Inquiry into Public Sector Efficiencies - Consideration of draft Report
The meeting moved into closed session at 10.16am.
Ms Purvis joined the meeting at 10.26am.
Members considered a further working draft of the Committee’s Report on its Inquiry into Public Sector Efficiencies.
Agreed: that the draft Report will be amended, taking account of points raised, and will be brought to the Committee for formal consideration at next week’s meeting.
The Committee also considered a response from the Performance and Efficiency Delivery Unit (PEDU) following an evidence session on 21 April 2010, and responses from the other statutory committees regarding their department’s use of the services provided by PEDU.
Agreed: that the correspondence is included in the evidence base of the Inquiry Report.
Agreed: that the Improving Public Sector Efficiency: Good Practice Checklist for Public Bodies, recently published by the NI Audit Office (NIAO), is included in the evidence base of the Inquiry Report.
Agreed: to call on DFP to advise the Committee on how the Departmental Board and the Governing Bodies of DFP’s arm’s length bodies intend to apply the checklist.
The Committee agreed the following draft motion to debate the report in plenary:
“That this Assembly approves the report of the Committee for Finance and Personnel on its Inquiry into Public Sector Efficiencies; and calls on the Minister of Finance and Personnel, in conjunction with Executive colleagues, to implement, as applicable, the recommendations contained therein”.
Agreed: to request that the Business Committee considers scheduling the motion in plenary on Monday 21 June.
5. Review of Data Security in NI Public Sector (Written Briefing)
The Assistant Clerk briefed the Committee on a written submission and report received from DFP on the Second Review of Data Security in the NI Public Sector
Agreed: to forward the report of the Review of Data Security in the NI Public Sector to the other statutory committees, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and NIAO for attention.
Agreed : that the Committee will highlight its concern that only marginal improvement has been reported since the previous review of data security and will seek written clarification on the issues raised; and that DFP officials be requested to provide an oral briefing session in October 2010, following the Third Review of Data Security, or earlier if possible.
Mr McNarry left the meeting at 10. 33am.
Mr McNarry returned to the meeting at 10.38am.
6. Progress against PSA and Departmental Targets (Written Briefing)
The Assistant Clerk briefed the Committee on a written submission from DFP on the Department’s progress against PSA and Departmental Targets 2009-10.
Agreed: to invite selected DFP officials to provide oral evidence on issues arising on 9 June 2010; and to request a summary paper on matters relating to Enterprise Shared Services in advance of that session.
7. Budget Scrutiny Inquiry – Stage 2: Evidence from the Scottish Parliament and House of Commons
The Committee received evidence from the following witnesses: Professor David Bell, Budget Adviser, Finance Committee, Scottish Parliament; Mr Simon Wakefield, Financial Scrutiny Unit, Scottish Parliament; Mr Chris Shaw, Scrutiny Unit, House of Commons;
Mr McQuillan left the meeting at10.50am.
Mr McCann left the meeting at 11.18am.
Mr McCann returned to the meeting at 11.35am.
Mr McNarry left the meeting at 11.45am.
8. Subordinate Legislation
The Committee considered the following proposals from DFP for Subordinate Legislation:
The Valuation (Telecommunications, Electricity and Natural Gas Undertakings) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2010
Agreed: that the Committee was content with the policy implications of the proposed legislation at this stage.
The Rate Relief (Amendment) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2010
Agreed: that the Committee was content with the policy implications of the proposed legislation at this stage.
The Census Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2010
Agreed: to request further clarification from DFP on the proposed provisions.
9. Electrical Standards in Building Regulations - Briefing by NI Electrical Standards Lobby Group (NIESLG)
The Committee agreed to take agenda item 11 next.
The Committee took evidence from the following witnesses: Mr Derek Thompson, Chairman, NIESLG; and Mr Alfie Watterson, Secretary, NIELSG.
Members also considered correspondence from the Committee for Enterprise Trade and Investment and a response from DFP on the issues raised in the NIESLG briefing paper.
Dr Farry left the meeting at 11.54am.
Dr Farry returned to the meeting at 12.09pm.
Mr McQuillan returned to the meeting at 12.23pm.
Mr McNarry returned to the meeting at 12.23pm.
Ms Purvis left the meeting at 12.34pm.
Dr Farry left the meeting at 12.35pm.
Ms Purvis returned to the meeting at 12.38pm.
Mr McCann left the meeting at 12.50pm.
Mr McCann returned to the meeting at 12.52 pm.
Mr Hamilton left the meeting at 12.52pm.
Mr Hamilton returned to the meeting at 12.58pm.
Mr McNarry left the meeting at 1.00pm.
The meeting was suspended at 1.00pm.
The meeting resumed at 1.20pm.
10. Building Regulations (DFP Briefing)
The Committee agreed to take agenda item 12 next.
The Committee took evidence from the following DFP officals: Mr Seamus McCrystal, Head of Building Standards, Properties Division, Corporate Services Group; Ms Hilda Hagan, Building Regulations and Energy, Building Standards Branch, Properties Division, Corporate Services Group; and Mr Geoff Rea, Construction and Advisory Division, Central Procurement Directorate, DFP.
Agreed: that the DFP officials will advise the Committee on the outcome of its proposal to amend the Building Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2000 (the Building Regulations) legislation before summer recess.
The Committee agreed to take agenda item 9 next and considered the following correspondence:
- DFP: Payment of rates by credit cards;
Agreed: to seek further clarification from DFP on the information collected on customers who choose to pay their rates by credit card.
Agreed:to copy the correspondence to the Consumer Council for information.
- DFP: Reply from Minister regarding fuel taxation;
- DFP: Reply to issues raised by Committee regarding Construction Contracts Bill;
- DFP: Reply from Minister regarding Procurement Inquiry Report;
Agreed: to publish the Department’s initial responses to the Procurement Inquiry Report on the Committee website.
- DFP: Response to Committee regarding Independent Review Team report on procurement in NI Water;
Agreed: to copy the correspondence to the Committee for Regional Development, PAC and NIAO for information.
- DFP: Reply from Minister regarding review of pay arrangements for senior civil servants;
- DFP: Civil Registration Bill;
Agreed: to copy the correspondence to Mr Smyrl, who had provided evidence on the Bill during Committee Stage, and had subsequently queried the status of the Bill.
- DFP: Final Operational Plan 2010-11;
- Peoples Air Ambulance NI: Launch of the Peoples Air Ambulance;
- Assembly Research: A Comparison of the Varney Review and the Economic Reform Group NI Report on Corporation Tax Reform;
- DFP: Update on Sustainable Development Action Plan;
- COFMDFM: Clawback of European Grants;
Agreed: to forward the correspondence to DFP for comment.
- Chairperson’s Liaison Group: Note of meeting on 18 May 2010;
- DFP: Quarterly update on Land and Property Service Progress Against PAC Report;
Agreed: to copy the correspondence to the PAC for information.
- DFP: Lifetime Opportunities Monitoring Framework;
- DFP: Letter from Minister on Budget Bill No. 3;
- DFP: Decision to postpone revaluation of non-domestic properties;
- DFP: Press Release on postponement of revaluation of non-domestic properties.
12. Committee Work Programme
The Committee agreed to take agenda item 10 next.
Members considered the current draft of the Committee work programme until the end of June 2010.
Agreed: that the current draft of the programme be published on the Assembly website.
Mr McQuillan left the meeting at 2.00pm.
13. Any Other Business
The Chairperson notified members that she would be meeting with the Minister of Finance and Personnel along with the Chair and Deputy Chair of the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment on matters relating to the implementation of the INTERREG IVA Programme on Tuesday 1 June.
14. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 02 June 2010 at 10.00 am in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.
The meeting ended at 14.02.