ASSEMBLY BUSINESS

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Venue: Room 30

The meeting opened at 10.08am in public session.

1. Apologies.

Apologies are detailed above.

Agreed: that Agenda items 4 and 5 are recorded by Hansard and the Official Reports published on the website.

2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 9 November 2011

Agreed: that the minutes are published on the Assembly website.

3. Matters Arising

Table of Requests for Information from DFP

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.

Equal Pay Issues

Members considered the secretariat paper identifying residual issues from the Equal Pay evidence.

Agreed: that these issues are forwarded to DFP for a written response.

4. Large Retail Levy and Small Business Rates Relief – Evidence session from NI Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) and small independent retail representatives

Members noted that DFP had requested sight of any briefing papers provided to the Committee on the Large Retail Levy and Small Business Rates Relief.

Agreed: that briefing papers would be forwarded to DFP following consideration by the Committee; and to request that DFP prepares a response to the issues raised in advance of its scheduled evidence on 29 November.

The Committee took evidence from the following witnesses: Glyn Roberts, NIIRTA Chief Executive; Colin Neill, Pubs of Ulster Chief Executive; David Hunter, Larne Traders Forum; and Patrick Cassidy, NIIRTA Member. The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

Mr William Humphrey declared an interest as a Member of Belfast City Council and former Chair of the Council’s Development Committee

Mr Dominic Bradley joined the meeting at 10.25am

Mr David Hilditch left the meeting at 11.07am

Mr Dominic Bradley left the meeting at 11.12am

Agreed: to request further analysis and figures from DFP in relation to the Large Retail Levy and how an adjustment to the rateable value threshold and the level of the levy would have an impact – e.g. a staggered analysis with the starting point of a rateable value of over £400,000 with a levy of 10%, over £500,000 with a levy of 15% etc.

5. Large Retail Levy and Small Business Rates Relief : Evidence session from the NI Local Government Association (NILGA) and local council representatives

The Committee took evidence from the following NILGA representatives: Derek McCallan, NILGA Chief Executive; and Karine McGuckin, NILGA European Officer.

The Chair explained to the NILGA representatives that responsibility for deciding the final version of the proposed scheme would lie with the Department and not the Committee, though the Committee will publish a report on its response to the Department’s proposals.

Mr Dominic Bradley joined the meeting at 11.33am

Evidence sessions on 23 November

Members noted that the NI Retail Consortium and B&Q confirmed that they will give evidence to the Committee on 23 November and that Tesco and Sainsbury are unable to attend.

Agreed: that IKEA and Asda would also be invited to give evidence to the Committee on 23 November.

6. Executive’s Review of the Financial Process Discussion Paper – Assembly Research briefing

Mr David Hilditch joined the meeting at 11.43am

Mr William Humphrey left the meeting at 11.43am

The Committee received a briefing from Assembly Research and Information Service on the discussion paper ‘TheExecutive’s Review of the Financial Process’.

Mr William Humphrey joined the meeting at 11.55am

Mrs Judith Cochrane left the meeting at 12.01pm

Mr Paul Maskey left the meeting at 12.14pm

Correspondence from Chairpersons’ Liaison Group (CLG)

Members noted that CLG had raised concerns regarding departments not providing sufficient information or time for committees to scrutinise monitoring round positions.

Agreed: that this issue be included in the Committee’s response to the Executive’s Review of the Financial Process, in the context of consideration of statutory provision to ensure engagement and information flow to committees.

Agreed: to hear additional evidence to inform the Committee’s final response to the Executive’s Review of the Financial Process from:

the NI Audit Office on the implications of the proposed reform; and

the Scottish Executive on its proposed move to outcome-based budgeting.

Agreed: that Assembly Research and Information Service will follow up on a number of issues discussed to further inform the Committee’s final response to the Executive’s Review.

7. Subordinate Legislation

The Committee considered two statutory rules:

SR 378 – The Rates (Appeals) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2011

The Committee noted that the Examiner of Statutory Rules had no points to raise by way of technical scrutiny in relation to the Rule.

Agreed: That the Committee has considered The Rates (Appeals) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2011and has no objection to the rule.

SR 395 - The Rates (Payment by Owners by Agreement) Order (NI) 2011

The Committee noted that the Examiner of Statutory Rules had no points to raise by way of technical scrutiny in relation to the Rule.

Agreed:That the Committee has considered The Rates (Payment by Owners by Agreement) Order (NI) 2011 and recommends that it be affirmed by the Assembly.

8. Correspondence

Members noted the following items of correspondence:

  • DFP: Developments in the measurement of wellbeing
  • DFP: Response regarding NICS Disciplinary Procedures

Agreed: to defer consideration until a future meeting.

Agreed: that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is offered the opportunity to comment on DFP’s proposals, given that PAC has also been scrutinising related issues.

  • PAC: Accountability arrangements and secondments in the Senior Civil Service

Agreed: to defer consideration until a future meeting.

Agreed: that the above two items of correspondence will be considered together as an agenda item at a future meeting, in order to allow the Chair to abstain from the discussion.

  • DFP: Response regarding Departmental Business Plans

Agreed: to write to the Department to press for further consideration to improving the future targets for the important cross-cutting services, particularly financial management, to ensure performance can be maximised and measured, while taking account of external variables.

  • Queens University Belfast: Invitation for Chair to participate in “The Northern Ireland Economy Debate: Going for Growth – Time for Radical Change”

Agreed: that the Chairperson will attend the event.

  • Quarry Products Association NI: Re-allocation of funds from the A5 project
  • Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment: Inquiry into Research and Development

Agreed: to forward this correspondence to DFP to respond directly to the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee; and to request that DFP’s response is copied to this Committee before members decide if a separate Committee response is also required.

  • DFP: Clarification of line management structure for the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB)

Agreed: that the Committee will examine the governance and accountability arrangements for SEUPB, as well as the progress on the INTERREG IVA funding approval process, during the planned session with DFP and SEUPB. It was also agreed that consideration will be given to whether further evidence is required from other SEUPB stakeholders.

Mr William Humphrey left the meeting at 12.28pm

9. Committee Work Programme

Agreed: that the Assembly will receive an Assembly research briefing on 23 November to inform the Terms of Reference for the inquiry option on the funding arrangements for devolved administrations.

Agreed: to invite Professor Sir George Bain to brief the Committee on flexible working, given that he examined this issue in his ‘Review of Policy on the Location of Public Sector Jobs’.

10. Any Other Business

None

11. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 23 November at 10.00am in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.33am.

Conor Murphy MP MLA
Chairperson
Committee for Finance and Personnel.
23 November 2011

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