Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Wednesday, 04 July 2012
Venue: Room 30, Parliament Buildings
The meeting opened at 10.08 in public session.
Apologies are detailed above.
Agreed: that Agenda items 4 and 5 are recorded by Hansard and the Official Report published on the Assembly website.
Members noted the declaration of interests from Mr Daithí McKay MLA, who replaced Mr Conor Murphy MP MLA as Committee Chairperson.
2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 20 June 2012.
Agreed: that the minutes are published on the Assembly website.
3. Matters Arising.
Table of Requests for Information from the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP)
The Committee noted the table of requests for information from DFP which provided an update on any matters arising not covered elsewhere on the agenda.
The Committee noted press articles on the Ulster Bank systems failure. Members also noted that the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee will be taking evidence from Ulster Bank and Consumer Council officials at its meeting tomorrow.
Agreed: that Daithí McKay, Roy Beggs, Leslie Cree and Paul Girvan will attend this meeting and that the Committee would work jointly with the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee on any follow up to this important issue, given the cross cutting interest.
Mr McQuillan joined the meeting at 10.10am
Mrs Cochrane joined the meeting at 10.12am
Agreed: to write to the Minister to enquire what further steps he will be taking to ensure that the Ulster Bank fully addresses the implications of the systems failure for customers and to seek assurances regarding the risk management arrangements for avoiding a recurrence of this situation in Ulster Bank or in another financial institution in Northern Ireland.
Disruption to power supplies in Stormont Estate
The Committee noted a DFP press release on the disruption to power supplies in the Stormont Estate during the recent flooding.
Agreed: to write to DFP to request information on the extent of the disruption to the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) as a result of the flooding and what assessment has been made as to the resilience of the infrastructure in all public buildings. A report will also be sought from DFP on the service provided by Floodline during this period.
Agreed: to enquire from the Assembly Commission what risk assessment has been carried out in relation to Parliament Buildings and the location of its electrical supply equipment vis-a-vis flooding.
Mr McQuillan left the meeting at 10.20am
Mr McQuillan joined the meeting at 10.21am
DFP: Follow-up from Main Estimates and Budget Bill evidence session
The Committee noted information provided by DFP on the breakdown of capital receipts across Departments and detail of the £178k figure set against the Northern Ireland Events Company.
Communication with DFP officials regarding the Estimates and Budget Bill
The Committee noted detail of Committee staff communication with DFP officials on the need for timely delivery of departmental papers for briefings on the Main Estimates 2012-13 and Budget (No.2) Bill. This included meetings, frequent phone calls and written correspondence.
Agreed: to forward this information to the Department to highlight the extent of the communication which the Committee staff had with DFP officials on this matter.
Mr Girvan left the meeting at 10.27am
DFP: Dormant Accounts
Members noted correspondence from DFP regarding Dormant Accounts.
DFP: LCM Supply of Information from HMRC for Rates Purposes
Members noted correspondence from DFP regarding the Legislative Consent Motion on Supply of Information from HMRC for Rates Purposes.
4. Superannuation Bill – Evidence Session with Trade Union Officials.
The Committee held an evidence session with Brian Campfield, NIPSA, Billy Lynn, NIPSA, and Harry Baird, FDA. The session was recorded by Hansard.
Mr Girvan joined the meeting at 10.30am
Mr Bradley joined the meeting at 10.34am
Mr McLaughlin left the meeting at 10.38am
Mr McLaughlin joined the meeting at 10.44am
Mr McQuillan left the meeting at 10.46am
Mr McQuillan joined the meeting at 10.50am
Mr McQuillan left the meeting at 10.58am
Mr McQuillan joined the meeting at 11am
Mrs Cochrane left the meeting at 11.34am
Mr Cree left the meeting at 11.34am
Mr McQuillan left the meeting at 11.36am
The Committee noted the following papers:
- DFP: response to evidence received to date;
- DFP: response to Assembly Research paper; and
- Submission from Trade Unions.
Agreed: to share the summary analysis table prepared by the Committee secretariat with DFP officials in advance of the next session.
Members questioned the witnesses on their recent discussions with DFP in relation to the Superannuation Bill.
Agreed: to defer the Assembly Research Briefing on Shared Services to a future meeting.
5. Superannuation Bill – Evidence Session with DFP Officials.
The Committee held an evidence session with the following DFP officials: Grace Nesbitt, Head of Civil Service Pensions; Margaret Miskelly, Head of Policy, Civil Service Pensions; and Margaret Coyle, Central Human Resources. The session was recorded by Hansard.
Mr McQuillan joined the meeting at 11.59am
Mr Humphrey left the meeting at 12.01pm
Members questioned the DFP officials on the provisions of the Bill and the officials undertook to provide the Committee with follow-up information as requested.
Agreed: that a number of amendments to the Superannuation Bill should be drafted for discussion at the next Committee meeting on 5 September 2012.
Mr McLaughlin left the meeting at 12.40pm
6. Subordinate Legislation.
The Committee considered the following statutory rule:
SR 2012/192 – The Building Regulations (NI) 2012
The Committee noted that the Examiner of Statutory had no issues to raise by way of technical scrutiny in relation to the Rule.
Agreed: that the Committee has considered The Building Regulations (NI) 2012 and has no objection to the Rule.
Agreed: to write to DFP to enquire whether Building Control could be given responsibility for checking that planning approvals are in place and if this could be included in future Regulations.
Members also considered two pieces of subordinate legislation:
- SL1 – The Superannuation (Charity Commission for Northern Ireland) Order (NI) 2012
Agreed: that the Committee has considered DFP’s proposal for subordinate legislation under The Superannuation (Charity Commission for Northern Ireland) Order (NI) 2012, and has no objection to the policy implications of the proposed legislation at this stage.
- SL1 – The Civil Registration Regulations (NI) 2012
Agreed: that the Committee has considered DFP’s proposal for subordinate legislation under The Civil Registration Regulations (NI), and has no objection to the policy implications of the proposed legislation at this stage.
7. Maximising the Assembly’s Contribution for the Budget Process – Consideration of responses to Discussion Document.
The Committee considered the responses which had been received to its discussion document on improving the budget process.
Mr McQuillan left the meeting at 12.48pm
Mr McQuillan joined the meeting at 12.48pm
Agreed: that the Committee secretariat would begin drafting the proposed Memorandum of Understanding between the Assembly and the Executive on the budget process for consideration in the autumn.
Members noted the following items of correspondence:
- DFP: Minister’s Response regarding Equal Pay;
- Correspondence from Members of the Public: Equal Pay Settlement;
Agreed: to publish the Committee’s letter to the Minister and the Minister’s response on this issue.
- Correspondence from the Committee for the Environment: EU Funding;
Agreed: to forward to DFP.
- Correspondence from the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment: Public Procurement;
Agreed: to include this correspondence in the pack for the relevant Committee meeting in September 2012.
- Correspondence from the Committee for Employment and Learning: Request for briefing from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency;
Agreed: to forward to DFP.
- DFP: Corporate Plan 2012-15 and Operational Plan 2012-13;
- Press Release from HMT: “Ministers meeting to discuss rebalancing the NI economy”;
- DFP: Minister’s Statement – 2012-13 June Monitoring Round;
- DFP: Terms of Reference for the in-year review of the Small Business Rates Relief;
- DFP: Pay & Grading Review;
Agreed: to publish this response on the Committee’s website and copy to all individuals who had written to the Committee on this issue.
- DFP: Follow-up information on Land and Property Service briefing;
Agreed: to write to DFP seeking more information on the rationale behind the change in legislation brought about as a result of the Insolvency (Northern Ireland) Order 1989,
- DFP: Development in relation to Regional Pay;
- DFP: Response in relation to Equal Pay Settlement and staff in NI Water and the Agri-Food & Bio-Sciences Institute;
Agreed: to copy this response to relevant Assembly committees for their consideration and to copy this response to individuals who had previously written to the Committee about this issue.
- DFP: First Census results; and
- Committee for Regional Development: request for briefing from DFP.
Agreed: to forward to DFP.
9. Committee Work Programme
Members considered a draft of the Committee work programme.
Agreed: to delegate authority to the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson during summer recess to submit views on the releasing or withholding of information in any non-routine/contentious FoI requests received and to advise the Committee at the first available meeting following the recess period.
Agreed: that the Committee work programme is amended to reflect decisions made today, and that the revised programme is published on the Assembly website.
10. Any Other Business
11. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 5 September 2012 at 10.00am in Room 30, Parliament Buildings, Stormont.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.56pm
Mr Daithí McKay MLA
Committee for Finance and Personnel
5 September 2012