Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Tuesday, 20 November 2012
12.46pm The Deputy Chairperson opened the meeting in closed session.
Apologies are detailed above.
2. Chairperson’s Business
The Deputy Chairperson reminded Members that the Northern Ireland Assembly Secretariat Staff/Member Protocol had been issued recently by the Director General.
3. Minutes of the meeting on 16 October 2012
The minutes of the meeting on 16 October 2012 were agreed.
12.47pm The Chairperson joined the meeting.
4. Matters Arising
12.48pm The Chairperson assumed the Chair.
The Chairperson welcomed Mr Kevin Shiels, Clerk of Business, and Ms Eva Grosman, NI Assembly Legislative Trust, to the meeting and invited them to update Chairpersons on the outcome of the first session of the programme for the Professional Development of Members, which took place with the Public Accounts Committee on 24 October 2012. Members noted that sessions on challenging and questioning techniques would be available from January 2013. Members also noted an imminent course on Women in Politics.
Agreed: Members agreed to request that Eva Grosman contact all Committees to enquire if they wish to avail of this opportunity.
12.51pm Mr Kelly joined the meeting.
12.52pm The Chairperson thanked Mr Shiels and Ms Grosman and they left the meeting.
Members noted a paper by the Clerk in relation to matters arising.
In respect of the live-streaming of All Party Group meetings, the Chairperson advised Members that any review of the rules for APGs would be a matter for consideration by the Committee on Standards and Privileges.
Members also noted that the Clerk had met with OFMdFM officials about taking forward the review of departmental guidance on liaison with Assembly Committees. The Chairperson advised Members that the process will involve consultation with Committee Clerks and Departmental Liaison Officers and that the Group will be kept informed of progress.
5. Review of Committees - arising from recommendations in the Assembly & Executive Review Committee Report
The Chairperson welcomed Dr Gareth McGrath, Director of Clerking and Reporting, to the meeting and invited him to brief the Group on the review of committees arising from recommendations in the AERC Report on ‘The Number of Members in the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly and the Reduction in the Number of Northern Ireland Departments’. Members considered draft terms of reference for the review which seeks to examine options and make recommendations to improve the effectiveness of the Committee system within the Northern Ireland Assembly. In addition, Members discussed the possibility of a steering group, which would include Chairpersons, to take the review forward.
Agreed: Members suggested a number of amendments to the Terms of Reference and agreed to consider a more substantive paper at the next meeting.
12.59pm The Chairperson thanked Mr McGrath for the presentation.
6. Committee use of Rapporteurs
The Chairperson welcomed Mr Jim McManus, Committee Clerk, to the meeting and invited him to brief the Group on the use of rapporteurs by committees. Members noted a briefing paper by Mr McManus on the proposed use of Rapporteurs.
1.05pm Ms McIlveen left the meeting.
Agreed: Members agreed in principle that there is merit in Committees employing the use of a rapporteur, and that a paper should be provided at a future meeting of CLG outlining proposed procedures for governing the use of rapporteurs.
1.19pm The Chairperson thanked Mr McManus for the presentation and he left the meeting.
7. Staffing Update
The Chairperson welcomed Ms Nuala Dunwoody, Clerk Assistant, to the meeting and invited her to update the Group on staffing issues.
1.20pm The Chairperson thanked Ms Dunwoody for the presentation.
8. Draft Forward Work Programme
Agreed: Members noted, and agreed, a draft forward work programme for the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group.
9. Any other business
Members noted that the Committee for Employment and Learning recently held a video conference with colleagues in Brussels. Mr McCrea commented on the success of this method of communication and suggested that committees should consider making use of this facility.
Agreed: Members noted that there had been a substantial increase in requests for the services of Hansard at Committee meetings which has stretched the resources available. The Clerk advised the Group that alternative solutions were being considered and that the situation would be kept under review.
1.23pm Mr McGlone left the meeting.
1.24pm Mr Frew and Mr Kinahan left the meeting.
The Chairperson welcomed Mr Trevor Reaney, Clerk/Director General, and Mr Hugh Widdis, Director of Legal and Governance Services (and legal adviser to the Assembly) to the meeting. The Clerk/Director General informed Members of a recent leak of confidential legal advice to a Committee. He expressed to the Group his deep concerns about the potential consequences of such a leak and the extreme importance to Committees and the Assembly of protecting the confidentiality of their legal advice. He asked all Chairs to remind their committees of this, and advised the Group that he would be writing to Members and Secretariat staff in respect of the issue.
1.28pm Mr Kelly left the meeting.
1.47pm The Chairperson thanked Mr Reaney and Mr Widdis for the update.
10. Date, time and venue of next meeting
The next meeting of the Liaison Group is scheduled to take place on Tuesday 15 January 2013 at 12.30pm in Room 21, Parliament Buildings.
1.48pm The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.
Mr Alex Maskey, Chairperson
19 February 2013