ASSEMBLY BUSINESS

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Venue: Room 30

The meeting opened at 10.04am in public session.

1. Apologies.

Apologies are detailed above.

Agreed: that the evidence session at Agenda item 6 is recorded by Hansard and the Official Report published on the website.

2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 14 September 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.

Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy (CIPFA) Conference

Agreed: that the Committee researcher will attend the CIPFA annual conference and prepare a short report for the Committee on relevant issues.

4. Budget System Laws – Assembly Research Briefing

The Committee received a briefing from Assembly Research and Information Service on the Research paper, Budget System Laws: principles and good practice.

Mr Paul Girvan joined the meeting at 10.13am.

Agreed: that Assembly Research will be commissioned to undertake comparative research in this area at a later date if required.

5. Presenting Fiscal Data: Gross or Net? – Assembly Research Briefing

The Committee received a briefing from Assembly Research and Information Service on the Research paper, Presenting fiscal data: gross or net?

Agreed: that follow-up information requested by the Committee will be provided by Assembly Research.

6. Review of Financial Process - DFP Evidence Session

The Committee took evidence from the following DFP officials: Mike Brennan, Head of Central Expenditure Division and Agnes Lennon, Central Expenditure Division. The session was recorded by Hansard.

Agreed: that DFP officials will provide an overview briefing on the public expenditure system for all MLAs and committee staff on 18 October 2011. The event will include a briefing on the Executive’s Review of the Financial Process.

7. Update on Proposed Budget Exchange Scheme – DFP Briefing

The Committee received a briefing from the following DFP officials: Mike Brennan, Head of Central Expenditure Division and Peter Jakobson, Central Expenditure Division.

8. Consultation on Claims for Wrongful Death – DFP Briefing

The Committee received a briefing from the following DFP officials: Oswyn Paulin, Departmental Solicitor, Departmental Solicitors Office and Laura McPolin, Legal Policy Advisor, Departmental Solicitors Office.

Agreed: that the Committee will receive a briefing on the outcome of the consultation.

9. Subordinate Legislation

Members considered two proposals from DFP for Subordinate Legislation:

SL1 – The Draft Land Registry (Fees) Order (NI) 2012

Agreed: that the Committee has considered DFP’s proposal for subordinate legislation under the The Draft Land Registry (Fees) Order (NI) 2012, and has no objection to the policy implications of the proposed legislation at this stage.

SL1 – The Draft Registration of Deeds (Fees) Order (NI) 2012

Agreed: that the Committee has considered DFP’s proposal for subordinate legislation under the The Draft Registration of Deeds (Fees) Order (NI) 2012, and has no objection to the policy implications of the proposed legislation at this stage.

10. Correspondence

Members noted the following items of correspondence:

  • Committee for Education: Correspondence from Parents’ Education as Autism Therapists regarding Budget Concerns (Tab11);

Agreed: to forward the correspondence to DFP for response as requested.

  • Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB): Changes to Procurement Regulations

Agreed: to request a briefing note from DFP setting out any changes to procurement regulations and lessons learned from the recent complaints brought by CAB. Members also sought clarification on whether it is correct to signpost private sector complainants in procurement cases to the NI Ombudsman.

  • DFP: Press Release - Finance Minister emphasises the need to build business confidence
  • Committee for the Environment: Reducing Energy Costs

Agreed: to forward the correspondence to DFP for response as requested.

12. Committee Work Programme

Members considered a draft of the Committee work programme.

Large Retail Levy & Small Business Rates Relief

The Committee noted that a number of sessions have been set aside in November to take evidence from stakeholders on the large retail levy and the extension of the small business rates relief scheme.

Agreed: to invite representatives from Sainsbury’s and Chambre Public Affairs to brief the Committee on this issue.

Agreed: to request DFP to provide a list of those who responded to the consultation as soon as it closes, to enable evidence sessions with all interested stakeholders to be arranged.

Corporation Tax

The Committee noted that the NI Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA) had raised a number of issues in its stakeholder submission regarding the devolution of corporation tax powers.

Agreed: to invite representatives from NICVA to give evidence on 5 October, when the Committee is scheduled to receive an update from DFP on this matter.

Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) Equal Pay Settlement

Agreed: to invite representatives from the Civil Service Pensioners’ Alliance to give evidence on concerns regarding retirees arising from the NICS equal pay settlement at the Committee’s meeting on 28 September.

Agreed: to send an invitation, via the Justice Committee, to Mr J Stewart, Director of HR for the Police Service of NI (PSNI), to brief the Committee on issues arising from the NICS equal pay settlement for PSNI civilian staff.

Performance and Efficiency Delivery Unit (PEDU)

Agreed: to invite DFP officials from PEDU to brief the Committee on the unit’s purpose, progress and forward work programme.

Banking Issues

The Committee noted the NI Consumer Council’s press release, Consumer Council Welcomes Banking Report but Benefits Needed Now Not Later.

Agreed: to invite DFP to update the Committee on what steps it has been taking with the responsible Whitehall departments and the British Bankers’ Association to see improved levels of bank lending to businesses in NI.

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

13. Any Other Business

Budget Process

Agreed: to commission Assembly research on the process for setting budgets in other devolved administrations and the impact that spending reviews have on these processes in terms of the time available for parliamentary scrutiny.

Agreed: to request an early copy of the discussion document on the Review of the Financial Process for Committee consideration and comment in advance of the document being circulated to all MLAs.

14. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 28 September at 10.00am in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 11.56am.

Conor Murphy MP MLA
Chairperson
Committee for Finance and Personnel.

28 September 2011 

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