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Ms Jennifer McCann MLA (Chairperson)
Mr David McNarry MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Dr Stephen Farry MLA
Mr Paul Frew MLA
Mr Paul Girvan MLA
Mr Simon Hamilton MLA
Mr Mitchel McLaughlin MLA
Mr Declan O’Loan MLA
Ms Dawn Purvis MLA

In Attendance:
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 Gareth Brown (Bursary Student)

Mr Adrian McQuillan MLA

The meeting commenced at 10.08am in open session.

1. Apologies

Apologies are as detailed above.

Agreed: that the evidence sessions at Agenda items 4 and 5 are recorded by Hansard and the Official Reports published on the website.

Mr Hamilton joined the meeting at 10.09am.

2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 10 November 2010

Agreed: that the minutes are published on the Assembly website.

3. Matters Arising

Composite Request

The Committee noted the composite request for information from the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) which provided an update on any matters arising not covered elsewhere on the agenda.

DFP: Response from Minister regarding closure of rate relief scheme for students

The Committee considered correspondence from the Minister of Finance and Personnel following its query regarding additional funding of Student Support Funds following the closure of the rate relief scheme for students. Members also noted further correspondence from Queen’s Students’ Union.

Agreed: to forward the queries raised by Queen’s Students’ Union to DFP for comment.

DFP: Budget 2010 Process & BBC Report

Members considered correspondence from the Minister of Finance and Personnel in relation to the Budget 2010 timetable and an issue arising from a recent BBC news report.

Mr Girvan joined the meeting at 10.15am.

Dr Farry left the meeting at 10.23am.

Dr Farry returned to the meeting at 10.24am.

Agreed: to copy the Minister’s response on the Budget 2010 timetable to other statutory committees for information.

Agreed: to reply to the Ministerial correspondence advising that the Committee encourages the Finance Minister in his efforts to secure Executive agreement on a draft Budget which seeks to safeguard key frontline services and policy priorities, including growing the economy, and which is subject to appropriate consultation. The reply to the Minister will also be copied to the other statutory committees for information.

Stakeholder Engagement

Members discussed a further proposal for engaging with stakeholders on the Spending Review and Budget 2011-2015. This could involve an informal stakeholder event in conjunction with other statutory committees whereby representative groups would have the opportunity to speak individually with the committees of their choice, specifically on issues relating to the anticipated Draft Budget. The information collected would help inform the subsequent committee responses to the Draft Budget.

Mr Frew joined the meeting at 10.26am.

Agreed: to write to other statutory committees, advising them of this proposal and inviting them to participate.

4. Spending Review and Budget 2011-2015

The Committee noted that it may need to address the issue of cuts to Annually Managed Expenditure (AME) on a strategic level on its Report on the Draft Budget.

Agreed: to commission Assembly Research to provide a paper on the impact of AME cuts on the economy at a local level.

The Committee took evidence from the following witnesses: Neil Gibson, Oxford Economics and Mike Smyth, University of Ulster. The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

Ms Purvis left the meeting at 11.25am.
Mr McNarry left the meeting at 11.27am.
Ms Purvis returned to the meeting at 11.29am.
Mr McNarry returned to the meeting at 11.35am.
Mr McLaughlin left the meeting at 11.55am.
Mr McLauglin returned to the meeting at 12.00pm.
Mr Hamilton left the meeting at 12.03pm.
Dr Farry left the meeting at 12.07pm.
Mr McNarry left the meeting at 12.15pm.

Agreed: that the witnesses will provide the Committee with a copy of the papers presented today.

Agreed: that DFP officials will be invited to give evidence to the Committee on the issue of accommodation efficiencies to help inform the Committee’s Report on the Draft Budget.

5. Rating of Empty Homes: outcome of consultation on the Landlord Allowance – DFP Evidence Session

The Committee took evidence from the following DFP officials: Brian McClure, Head of Rating Policy Division; Veronica Holland, Rating Policy Division and Andrew McAvoy, Rating Policy Division. The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

Mr Frew left the meeting at 12.20pm.

Dr Farry returned to the meeting at 12.30pm.

Mr Girvan left the meeting at 12.31pm.

Mr Frew returned to meeting at 12.35pm.

Agreed: that the Committee is content with the outcome of the consultation.

6. DFP Progress against PSA and Departmental Targets – Written Briefing

The Assistant Clerk briefed the Committee on a written submission from DFP on its progress against PSA and Departmental Targets.

Agreed: to invite selected DFP officials to provide oral evidence on issues arising on 1 December 2010; and to request further information as agreed by the Committee.

7. Analysis of DFP responses to Committee recommendations

The Committee considered an analysis of the Department’s responses to recommendations made in Committee reports during the current mandate.

Agreed: to forward the Committee’s analysis and supporting documentation to DFP for a response.

8. Subordinate Legislation

The Committee considered the Draft General Register Office (Fees) Order (Northern Ireland) 2010 and the Fifth Report of the Examiner of Statutory Rules, which raised no issues by way of technical scrutiny.

Agreed: that the Committee for Finance and Personnel has considered the Draft General Register Office (Fees) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2010 and recommends that it be affirmed by the Assembly.

9. Correspondence

The following items of correspondence were noted:

  • Committee for Regional Development: Delay in Cycle to Work Scheme;

Agreed: to forward the correspondence to DFP for a response, on receipt of which the Committee will consider its position.

  • Committee for Education: Performance and Efficiency Delivery Unit (PEDU) Review;

Agreed: to write to DFP to seek its views on the reasons for the delay in the Department of Education PEDU Review.

Mr Hamilton returned to the meeting at 12.45pm.

  • Mitchel McLaughlin MLA: Comprehensive Spending Review Query;

Agreed: to copy the correspondence to DFP for a response on the issues raised.

  • Arc21: Response to the Inquiry into Procurement in Northern Ireland report;
  • DFP: Response from Minister regarding Senior Civil Service (SCS) Pay Review;
  • British Medical Association: SCS Pay Review;
  • DFP: Proposed Amendments to Civil Registration Bill ( Northern Ireland) 2008;

Agreed: to request a timetable from DFP for the Bill’s passage through the remaining stages in the Assembly.

  • Boardroom NI: Research Document on Boards and Governance;
  • Citizens Advice Bureau: Social Security Contract for Benefit Uptake;
  • DFP: Response to CBI report “Time for Action”;

Agreed: to raise the revenue-raising issues with the other relevant statutory committees; and to ask DFP for further information on the revenue raising proposal identified within its remit.

Agreed: to ask CBI to provide an update on its engagement following the publication of its report.

  • Stranmillis University College: Invite to formal launch of the EntreBRAINeur report;
  • Committee for First Minister and Deputy First Minister: European Investment Bank;

Agreed: to forward the correspondence to DFP for a response.

Mr Hamilton left the meeting at 12.48pm.

  • DFP: Amendment to Centre for Applied Learning follow up;
  • Advice NI News Release: “Universal benefit being paid for by savage cuts to the social security system";
  • Committee for the Environment: Aggregates Levy Credit Scheme; and
  • DFP: Update on Banking Issues.

Agreed: to table the correspondence at the concurrent meeting of the Committee for Finance and Personnel and the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment this afternoon.

10. Committee Work Programme

The Committee noted that the Private Members’ Bill: Apartment Developments’ Management Reform Bill, which received its First Reading in the Assembly on 15 November 2010, is likely to be allocated to this Committee.

Agreed: to request initial written and oral briefing from DFP on the Department’s preliminary views on the provisions in the Bill; to invite Kieran McCarthy MLA, sponsor of the Bill, to brief the Committee on the Bill prior to Second Reading; and to commission an Assembly research paper on the Bill.

Agreed: that the work programme is amended to reflect decisions made today, and that the revised programme is published on the Assembly website.

11. Any Other Business
12. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 24 November 2010 at 10.00am in Room 30, Parliament Buildings..

The meeting ended at 12.50pm

Jennifer McCann, Chairperson
Committee for Finance and Personnel
24 November 2010

10 November 10 / Menu

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