COMMITTEE FOR FINANCE AND PERSONNEL
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
ONE HUNDRED AND FOURTH MEETING
TUESDAY 24, SEPTEMBER 2002
ROOM 144, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Present: Mr Francie Molloy (Chairman)
Mr Roy Beggs (Deputy Chairman)
Mr Billy Bell
Mr Seamus Close
Mr Derek Hussey
Mr Roger Hutchinson
Ms Patricia Lewsley
Mr Maurice Morrow
Mr Peter Weir
In attendance: Mr Alan Patterson (Principal Clerk)
Mr Shane Mc Ateer (Clerk)
Mr Joe Sloan (Assistant Clerk)
Mr Stephen Murphy (Executive Support)
Mr Stephen Ball (Administrative Support)
The Chairman declared the meeting open at 2.08 p.m.
2. Minutes of Proceedings
3. Matters arising.
3.1 The Committee considered an invoice received from its specialist adviser regarding the public consultation on the opportunities for Public Private Partnerships in Northern Ireland. The invoice requested payment for four days when 3 days had been agreed in the contract.
Resolved: The Committee agreed, exceptionally, to payment of four days. However, it asked the Clerk to explore the inclusion in a revised standard contract letter of a responsibility on specialist advisers to notify the appropriate Committee Clerk of additional days required immediately need becomes evident and before completion of the work..
3.2 The Committee noted the letter, narrative and table from the Department on the Department of Finance and Personnel's September Monitoring position.
Resolved: The Committee agreed to write to the Department requesting further details in relation to the Rates Collection Agency's project to replace its IT system.
Mr Hussey, Mr Morrow and Mr Hutchinson attended the meeting at 2.12 p.m.
4. Draft Budget 2002.
4.1 The Minister of Finance and Personnel and Departmental officials, Dr Andrew McCormick and Mr David Sterling attended the meeting and discussed the Draft Budget presented to the Assembly.
4.2 The Minister and his officials discussed with the Committee the need for Assembly Committees to examine outputs and outcomes in Departments' programmes in a more comprehensive way.
4.3 The Minister and his officials answered questions from the Committee on the Infrastructure and Public Services deficit, the Reinvestment and Reform Initiative, Efficiency and Effectiveness, Departmental Reform Plans, Executive Programme Funds, Needs and Effectiveness Evaluations and Asset management and disposal.
Mr Close left the meeting at 2.51 p.m. Ms Lewsley attended the meeting at 2.51 p.m.
5. Underspend Review.
5.1 The Minister and his officials, Dr Andrew McCormick and Mr David Sterling discussed with the Committee the range of issues facing the Executive in the review of underspends by Departments.
5.2 The Minister highlighted the use in, Budget 2002, of anticipated underspends and a new method of allocation identifying upper and lower tier resource requirements where estimates for particular Departmental programmes are difficult.
6. Strategic Investment Body.
6.1 The Minister and his officials, Dr Andrew McCormick and Ms Linda Wilson discussed with the Committee the role and relationship of the Strategic Investment Body with the Departments and the Procurement Board.
6.2 The Minister informed the Committee that a report on detailed analysis from the Review was some weeks away.
6.3 The Minister and his officials answered questions from the Committee.
7. Review of Rating Policy
7.1 Departmental official Mr Brian McClure attended the meeting to provide an update to the Committee on the progress of the public consultation on the Review of Rating Policy.
Mr Hutchinson left the meeting at 3.55 p.m.
7.2 Mr McClure provided details of the organisations and individuals who have participated in the consultation process.
7.3 The Committee considered the inclusion of a written submission in its report made by Queen's University Belfast.
Resolved: The Committee agreed that the submission should be included in its report.
Mr Hussey left the meeting at 4.26 p.m.
8. Marriage Bill - Oral Evidence Session
8.1 Departmental officials, Mr Gareth Johnston, Mr Michael Foster and Mr George King attended the meeting and discussed with the Committee some clarification on definitions and outstanding queries raised by the Committee on the Bill.
Mr Close returned to the meeting at 4.32 p.m. Mr Bell left the meeting at 4.32 p.m.
8.2 The officials answered further questions from the Committee.
9. Marriage Bill - Clause by clause consideration.
9.1 The Committee considered clause 1 of the Marriage Bill.
9.1.1 The Committee considered a proposed amendment at clause 1 (2) to add:
"marriage" means the voluntary union, intended for life, of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.'
Resolved: The Committee agreed the proposed amendment at clause 1 (2).
Resolved: The Committee was content with clause 1 subject to the amendment proposed to subsection 3.
9.2 The Committee considered clauses 2 and 3 of the Marriage Bill.
Resolved: The Committee was content with clauses 2 and 3 as drafted.
Ms Lewsley left the meeting at 5.08 p.m.
9.3 The Committee considered clause 4 of the Marriage Bill.
9.3.1 The Committee considered proposed amendments at clause 4(3)(i) and 4(3)(ii) to change officiant to, 'officiant or registering officer'.
9.3.2 A vote on the amendment was tied 3 votes to 3 votes. For: Mr Hutchinson, Mr Morrow and Mr Weir. Against: Mr Beggs, Mr Close, and Mr. Molloy. The amendment fell.
Resolved: The Committee was content with clause 4 as drafted.
9.4 The Committee considered clause 5 of the Marriage Bill.
9.4.1 The Committee considered 2 proposed amendments to clause 5: after subsection 4, line 40 insert:
'( )If in exceptional circumstances the named officiant is unable to solemnise the ceremony then any other person registered under section 9 may solemnise the ceremony.'
Subsection 5, line 41 after "make" insert 'further'.
Resolved: The Committee agreed the proposed amendments to clause 5.
Resolved: The Committee was content with clause 5 subject to the amendments proposed.
9.5 The Committee considered clauses 6 to 38 of the Marriage Bill.
Resolved: The Committee was content with clauses 6 to 38 as drafted.
9.6 The Committee considered clause 39 of the Marriage Bill.
9.6.1 The Committee considered a proposed amendment to clause 39, line 22 leave out "a" to end and insert 'such officiant or registering officer as mentioned in section 7(1) (a).'
Resolved: The Committee agreed the proposed amendments to clause 39.
Resolved: The Committee was content with clause 39 subject to the amendment proposed
9.7 The Committee considered clauses 40 and 41 of the Marriage Bill.
Resolved: The Committee was content with clauses 40 and 41 as drafted.
9.9 The Committee considered the schedule of repeals of the Marriage Bill.
Resolved: The Committee was content with the schedule of repeals as drafted.
9.10 The Committee considered the short title of the Marriage Bill.
Resolved: The Committee was content with the short title as drafted.
9.11 The Committee considered the long title of the Marriage Bill.
Resolved: The Committee was content with the long title as drafted.
10.1 The Committee noted a letter from the Committee of the Centre to Mr John Mc Kinney of the Special European Union Programmes Body inviting him to submit written and oral evidence to its inquiry into "The approach of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the devolved Government on European Union issues".
10.2 The Committee noted an invitation to the Equality Coalition's conference on Public Private Partnerships / Private Finance Initiatives.
10.3 The Committee noted a letter from the Committee of the Centre that it would not be responding further to the Committee's report in response to the Executive's Position Report.
10.4 The Committee noted the submission by the Committee for the Administration of Justice in relation to the Review of Rating Policy.
10.5 The Committee noted the letter from the European Parliament's Committee on Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism regarding availability to present evidence in relation to the Committee's Inquiry into the Management of EU structural Funds.
11. Any Other Business
11.1 The Committee noted its updated business programme.
11.2 The Committee considered a proposal that a sub-committee should be established to take oral evidence during a visit to Brussels on the Inquiry Management of European Union Funds.
Resolved: The Committee agreed the proposal to elect a sub-committee for the evidence sessions. The Chairman will act as Convenor to the sub-group, which will have a quorum of 3.
12. Date of Next Meeting.
12.1 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 1 October 2002.
The Chairman declared the meeting closed at 5.50 p.m.