Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Wednesday, 14 December 2011
Venue: Room 30, Parliament Buildings
The meeting opened at 10.06am in public session.
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
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
Committee for Finance and Personnel
14 December 2011