COMMITTEE FOR FINANCE AND PERSONNEL
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTH MEETING
TUESDAY 23, SEPTEMBER 2002
EUROPA HOTEL, BELFAST
Present: Mr Francie Molloy (Chairman)
Mr Roy Beggs (Deputy Chairman)
Mr Seamus Close
Ms Patricia Lewsley
Mr Peter Weir
In attendance: Mr Alan Patterson (Principal Clerk)
Mr Shane Mc Ateer (Clerk)
Mr Joe Sloan (Assistant Clerk)
Mr Stephen Ball (Administrative Support)
The Chairman declared the meeting open at 5.06 p.m.
1.1 Mr Hussey, Mr Morrow.
2. Minutes of Proceedings
2.1 The Committee considered the Minutes of Proceedings for Tuesday 17 September 2002.
Resolved: The Committee agreed the Minutes of Proceedings for Tuesday 17 September 2002.
3. Matters arising.
3.1 The Committee considered the letter from the Rates Collection Agency providing additional information to its oral evidence on the Review of Rating Policy.
Resolved: The Committee agreed to seek further information from the Agency on marginal costs on rates collection if industrial de-rating was removed.
3.2 The Committee noted the letter from the Chairman of the Committee for Social Development to the First Minister and Deputy First Minister in relation to concerns about the Needs and Effectiveness Evaluation on Housing.
3.3 The Committee noted its draft motion requesting an extension of the Committee stage of the Marriage Bill.
3.4 The Committee noted its draft motion requesting an extension of the Committee stage of the Family Law (Divorce etc) Bill.
3.5 The Committee considered a letter from the Minister of Finance and Personnel on the Department's draft Publication Scheme in relation to the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Resolved: The Committee agreed to ask the Minister for a summary of any major information not included in the Publication Scheme and the reasons for exclusion.
3.6 The Committee considered a response to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission in relation to the Committee's considerations of the Department of Finance and Personnel's submission on the NIHRC's proposed Bill of Rights.
Resolved: The Committee agreed the draft response to NIHRC.
4. Review of Rating Policy
4.1 The Committee considered a recommendation from its specialist advisers on the structure of its response to the public consultation on the Review of Rating Policy.
Resolved: The Committee agreed the structure and main headings for its report.
4.2 The Committee considered options regarding the format of its response.
Resolved: The Committee agreed that its response should be formatted and published as a Committee Report.
4.3 The Committee considered the inclusion of written submissions in its report made by;
Bombardier Aerospace Confederation of British Industry Northern Ireland Housing Executive Northern Ireland Hotel Federation Rates Collection Agency Rural Development Council Ulster Farmers Union Valuations and Lands Agency Committee on the Administration of Justice. Queen's University, Belfast
Resolved: The Committee agreed the inclusion of the written submissions in its report.
4.4 The Committee considered the inclusion in its report of a summary of the responses to the Department's public consultation as outlined in an Annex to a letter of 16 September 2002 from the Minister.
Resolved: The Committee agreed that a summary of the responses to the Department's public consultation should be included in its report.
4.5 The Committee considered the key questions asked in the public consultation document.
4.5.1 Should we consider taxing ownership instead of occupation?
Resolved: The Committee agreed that no change should be made but that further consideration should be given to the concept of "sole or main residence".
4.5.2 Should a capital value based system be examined in detail (individual or banded) for Domestic properties?
Resolved: The Committee agreed that a discrete capital value based system should be examined in detail and that this should involve an impact analysis.
4.5.3 Should consideration be given to providing some form of relief for groups such as sole householders, the elderly and the disabled?
Resolved: The Committee agreed that consideration should be given for such reliefs, that existing reliefs should be reviewed for effectiveness, and that thorough TSN evaluations and that Equality Impact Assessments should be undertaken in all cases.
4.5.4 Should consideration be given to providing some sort of relief graduated on an income basis?
Resolved: The Committee agreed that this should be considered as part of a wider review of reliefs.
4.5.5 Should we consider taxing ownership instead of occupation for the non-domestic sector?
Resolved: The Committee agreed that there should be no change from taxing occupation to taxing ownership for the non-domestic sector.
4.5.6 Should a switch to capital value be considered in more detail for the non-domestic property?
Resolved: The Committee agreed that consideration should not be given to a switch to capital value for non-domestic properties.
4.5.7 Should further consideration be given to taxing vacant property?
Resolved: The Committee agreed that further consideration should be given to taxing vacant property but that certain exemptions would be required and a distinction should be made between the domestic and non-domestic sectors.
4.5.8 Should the removal of industrial de-rating be considered?
Resolved: The Committee agreed that the removal of industrial de-rating should be considered but that further discussion should take place between the parties concerned.
4.5.9 The Executive is not reconsidering the rating of agricultural land and buildings, however, should further consideration be given to wider rural reliefs to help sustain the economies of declining rural areas?
Resolved: The Committee agreed that further consideration should be given to rural reliefs and that all proposals for relief should be subject to thorough TSN and Equality Impact Assessments.
4.5.10 Should relief for small businesses be considered further?
Resolved: The Committee agreed that relief for small businesses should be considered further.
4.5.11 Should there be provision to provide undue hardship relief under exceptional circumstances?
Resolved: The Committee agreed that a scheme of hardship relief should be developed for both domestic and non-domestic properties.
4.5.12 If following consultation, it is agreed by the Executive and the Assembly to move towards the introduction of water charges, how might water and sewerage costs be distributed among domestic consumers?
- A uniform contribution per household;
- A contribution based on NAV;
- A contribution based on the capital value of the property; or
- A combination of a flat rate and a value based contribution?
Resolved: The Committee agreed that this issue should be considered separately from the reform of the rating system and should be subject to a separate consultation.
4.6 The Committee considered and agreed a number of issues, which could be raised in its response.
5. Any Other Business
6. Date of Next Meeting.
6.1 The Committee considered the date of its next meeting.
Resolved: The Committee agreed to its next meeting in open session in Room 144 Parliament Buildings 2.00 p.m. on Tuesday 24 September 2002.
The Chairman declared the meeting closed at 7.28 p.m.