ASSEMBLY BUSINESS

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Venue: Room 30, Parliament Buildings

The meeting opened at 10.06am in public session.

1. Apologies.

Apologies noted above.

Agreed: that Agenda item 5 is recorded by Hansard and the Official Report published on the Assembly website.

Agreed: that Agenda item 7 is taken in closed session in line with normal protocol.

2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 7 December 2011 

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

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

Members noted a press article on the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme and extension of the Large Retail Levy. 

4. Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) Sickness Absence – DFP Briefing   

The Committee received a briefing from Derek Baker, Director of Personnel for the NICS, Corporate HR, DFP. 

Mrs Judith Cochrane joined the meeting at 10.11am

Mr Leslie Cree joined the meeting at 10.11am

Mr David Hilditch joined the meeting at 10.20am

5. January 2012 Monitoring Round: Departmental Position – DFP Evidence Session

The Committee noted the DFP response to the Committee for the Environment regarding the de minimis threshold.

The Committee heard evidence from the following DFP officials: Brigitte Worth, Acting Finance Director, Finance Branch, Corporate Services Group, DFP; and Kathryn Hill, Head of Accounting and Accountability Branch, Finance Branch, Corporate Services Group, DFP. The session was recorded by Hansard.

Mr William Humphrey left the meeting at 10.34am

Mr Adrian McQuillan joined meeting at 10.43am

Mr William Humphrey joined the meeting at 10.47am

Agreed: to request that DFP provides a briefing in closed session on the ongoing legal case in relation to NICS employment issues.

6. Savings Delivery Plans – DFP Briefing

The Committee received a briefing from the following DFP officials: Brigitte Worth, Acting Finance Director, Finance Branch, Corporate Services Group, DFP; and Kathryn Hill, Head of Accounting and Accountability Branch, Finance Branch, Corporate Services Group, DFP.

Agreed: that DFP will respond to the Committee on what consideration has given to the possibilities of NICS availing of opportunities for using licence-free software.

The Committee moved to closed session at 10.58am

7. Executive’s Review of the Financial Process Discussion Paper: Initial Consideration of Co-ordinated Response

Members gave initial consideration to issues arising from the Discussion Paper on the Executive’s Review of the Financial Process, including responses received from other statutory committees, the Public Accounts Committee and the Audit Committee. A first draft of the Committee’s co-ordinated response to the Review will be considered at the next meeting on 11 January 2012.

The Committee moved to public session at 11.09am

Mr Paul Girvan joined the meeting at 11.10am

8. Correspondence

Members noted the following items of correspondence:

Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development: Reservoirs Bill

Agreed: to check with DFP whether it has any relevant interests in this regard.

DFP: Equal Pay Issues

Agreed: that the Committee will consider its position on how it wishes to pursue this matter following the briefing requested from DFP at agenda item 5.

DFP: Correspondence from member of the public regarding equal pay issues

Agreed: to copy this response to Dolores Kelly MLA.

DFP: Response regarding pay, grading and recruitment issues

Agreed: to request further detail from DFP in relation to the online stage of the recent EOII competition, in particular whether candidates were selected based on a pass or fail or whether a top percentage was applied.

DFP Press Release: Pay statistics for the NICS

Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment: Economic Strategy

Members noted the following routine correspondence emailed on Tuesday 13 December:

Consumer Council – Weather the Winter – Tips/Advice for Christmas and Winter

PWC - Helping Economic Take-off – Devolving Air Passenger Duty

Friends of the Earth: Invite to the launch of the findings of the Planning Survey, conducted by Dr Geraint Ellis

9. Committee Work Programme

Members considered a draft of the Committee work programme.

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

Agreed: that DFP will be asked to provide information on local case studies of the application of “systems thinking” in public sector which will inform one of the Committee’s options for an inquiry terms of reference.

10. Any Other Business

Mr Ross Hussey declared an interest having previously worked in the insurance industry

Agreed: that, in light of the recent report by the Office of Fair Trading on the cost of insurance in NI, enquiries will be made with the Committee for Justice to establish if it has plans to examine this matter as recommended by the previous Committee for Finance and Personnel.

Agreed: that, arising from a recent plenary debate, the Committee will consider whether it has any remit to investigate the issue of companies offering short-term payday loans to vulnerable people.

11. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 11 January at 10.00am in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 11.23am

Conor Murphy MP MLA
Chairperson
Committee for Finance and Personnel
14 December 2011

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