Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Wednesday, 23 May 2012
Venue: Room 30, Parliament Buildings
The meeting opened at 10.02am in public session.
Mr McLaughlin joined the meeting at 10.03am
There were no apologies.
Agreed: that Agenda item 4 is held in closed session in line with normal protocol.
Agreed: that Agenda items 5 and 6 are recorded by Hansard and the Official Report published on the Assembly website.
2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 16 May 2012
Agreed: that the minutes are published on the Assembly website.
3. Matters Arising
Mrs Cochrane joined the meeting at 10.04am
Mr Girvan joined the meeting at 10.06am
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.
Agreed: that queries in relation to follow up information from the Special European Union Programmes Body (SEUPB) be addressed at next week’s meeting. It was also agreed to write to DFP for clarification on issues relating to the accountability arrangements for Senior Civil Servants.
The meeting moved into closed session at 10.07am
4. Maximising the Assembly’s Contribution to the Northern Ireland Budget Process – Final consideration of draft Committee Discussion Paper
The Committee undertook a final consideration of the draft discussion paper, entitled Maximising the Assembly’s Contribution to the Northern Ireland Budget Process.
Agreed: that the introduction to paragraph 4 stand part of the discussion paper.
Agreed: that paragraphs 5 to 9 stand part of the discussion paper.
Mr Hilditch left the meeting at 10.14am
Mr McQuillan joined the meeting 10.15am
Agreed: that paragraphs 10 to 25 stand part of the discussion paper.
Agreed: that paragraphs 26 to 30 stand part of the discussion paper.
Agreed: that paragraphs 31 to 33 stand part of the discussion paper.
Agreed: that paragraphs 34 to 36 stand part of the discussion paper.
Agreed: that paragraphs 37 to 41 stand part of the discussion paper.
Agreed: that paragraphs 42 to 45 stand part of the discussion paper.
Agreed: that paragraph 46 stands part of the discussion paper.
Agreed: that paragraphs 47 to 53 stand part of the discussion paper.
Agreed: that paragraphs 54 to 55 stand part of the discussion paper.
Mr Hilditch returned to the meeting at 10.20am
Agreed: that paragraph 56 stands part of the discussion paper.
Agreed: that the appendix stands part of the discussion paper.
Agreed: that the discussion paper is issued to stakeholders for comment.
Agreed: that the discussion paper is published on the Assembly’s website.
The meeting moved into open session at 10.30am
5. Equal Pay- DFP Evidence Session
The Committee took evidence from the following DFP officials: Derek Baker, Director of Personnel for the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS), Corporate HR (CHR) and Mark Bailey, Head of Pay and Policy, CHR. The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.
The Committee noted correspondence from stakeholders on this issue.
Mrs Cochrane left the meeting at 11.10am
Agreed: that the following information is requested from DFP: a breakdown of the number of retirees and number of leavers and associated costs included in the Department’s estimated £17m cost of extending the equal pay settlement to retirees/leavers; an explanation of the rationale used to determine who would be included in the terms of the settlement; and clarification on the status of the £26m set aside by the PSNI for equal pay purposes, including whether this can be used for other purposes and, if it is not used for equal pay purposes, whether it would require to be returned to Treasury. The Committee also asked for confirmation that clear and detailed advice is currently provided to NICS staff who opt for secondment, to minimise the risk of similar issues which have arisen during this process occurring in the future.
Agreed: that clarification will be sought from the Department of Justice on the position regarding a final business case for the inclusion of PSNI staff in the NICS equal pay settlement.
Agreed: that information will be sought from Assembly Legal Services on the impact that a Supreme Court ruling on the Abdulla v Birmingham City Council case would have in terms of any potential breach of contract or equal pay cases in Northern Ireland.
Agreed: that the Committee will consider its position on the equal pay issues at next week’s meeting, given that the evidence gathering had now concluded.
6. Land Law Proposals - DFP Evidence Session
Members held an evidence session with the following DFP officials: Oswyn Paulin, Departmental Solicitor, Departmental Solicitors Office (DSO) and Laura McPolin, Legal Policy Adviser, DSO. The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.
The Committee noted a briefing paper from DFP on this issue.
Mr Humphrey left the meeting at 11.31am
Agreed: that DFP will provide an indicative timetable for the preparation and legislative passage of the Bill, which includes time for an extended Committee Stage.
7. Statistics and Registration Services Act 2007 (Disclosure of Social Security Information Regulations) (NI) 2012 – DFP Briefing
The Committee received a briefing from the following DFP officials: Dr Norman Caven, Chief Executive & Registrar General, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) and Máire Brolly, Principal Statistician, NISRA.
The Committee noted a briefing paper from DFP and correspondence from the Committee for Social Development on this proposed statutory rule.
Agreed: that the Committee is content with the policy implications of the proposed statutory rule at this stage.
8. Superannuation Bill
Members considered the issues arising from the evidence received to date.
The Committee noted a submission from the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, official reports of evidence from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Equality Commission and a report by the Westminster Comptroller and Auditor General “Managing early departures in central government”
Agreed: to forward the issues identified to the Department for response.
9. Legislative Consent Motion: The supply of information from HM Revenue and Customs for rates purposes
The Committee considered correspondence from the Minister of Finance and Personnel regarding a forthcoming legislative consent motion on the Local Government Finance Bill.
Agreed: to forward the correspondence to the Committee for Social Development for comment and to schedule an oral briefing from DFP officials into the work programme.
The Committee noted the following items of correspondence;
• DFP: Budget (No.2) Bill 2012;
Agreed: that the correspondence would be forwarded to the Committee for Social Development and the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure for comment.
• DFP: Departmental Savings Delivery Plan update to end of March 2012;
Agreed: to schedule an evidence session with DFP officials on this issue.
• DFP: NI Direct;
• Committee for Justice: Draft Community Strategy;
• DFP: Post Project Evaluations;
Agreed: to copy this correspondence to the other statutory committees for information.
• Events Office: Olympic Torch Invitation;
The Committee also noted the following routine correspondence which was issued separately prior to the meeting:
• BBC press article - “Empey seeks guarantee on Heathrow airline slots”
11. Committee Work Programme
Members considered a draft of the Committee work programme.
Members considered an update from DFP regarding the implementation of the previous Committee’s inquiry recommendations on public procurement.
Agreed: to schedule an evidence session with DFP.
Agreed: to forward the correspondence to the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment for comment in advance of this session.
Agreed: that the Committee work programme is amended to reflect decisions made today, and that the revised programme is published on the Assembly website.
12. Any Other Business
13. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 30 May 2012 at 10.00am in Room 30, Parliament Buildings, Stormont.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.05pm
Conor Murphy MP MLA
Committee for Finance and Personnel
30 May 2012