Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Wednesday, 25 January 2012
Venue: Room 30
The meeting opened at 10.06am in public session
Apologies noted above.
Agreed: that Agenda item 4 is recorded by Hansard and the Official Report published on the Assembly website, following the commencement of the debate on the Committee’s report in plenary.
Agreed: that Agenda items 4 and 5 are taken in closed session in line with normal protocol.
2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 18 January 2012
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.
Committee Report on the Response to the Executive’s Review of the Financial Process
The Committee agreed the following motion to debate the Report in plenary:
“That this Assembly approves the report of the Committee for Finance and Personnel on the Response to the Executive’s Review of the Financial Process in Northern Ireland; and calls on the Minister of Finance and Personnel, in conjunction with relevant Executive colleagues, to implement the recommendations contained therein.”
Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) Equal Pay Settlement
Agreed: to publish the Committee’s letter to the Minister on equal pay issues on the Committee’s webpage.
The meeting moved into closed session at 10.10am
4. Executive’s Review of the 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 evidence session was recorded by Hansard.
Mr Girvan joined the meeting at 10.15am
Mr Hilditch left the meeting at 10.19am
Mr Bradley joined the meeting at 10.20am
Mr McQuillan joined the meeting at 10.24am
Mr Humphrey left the meeting at 10.30am
Mr Humphrey returned to the meeting 10.33am
Mr Hilditch returned to the meeting at 10.34am
Mr Maskey joined the meeting at 10.35am
Agreed: that the DFP officials would be available to meet informally to further discuss the Committee’s Report on the Response to the Executive’s Review of the Financial Process, ahead of a formal response being received from the Department.
5. Draft Programme for Government, draft Investment Strategy and draft Economic Strategy – Initial Consideration of draft Committee Response
The Committee undertook initial consideration of its response to the draft Programme for Government, draft Investment Strategy and draft Economic Strategy.
Mr Girvan left the meeting at 11.03am
Mr Humphrey left the meeting at 11.04am
Agreed: that Members will forward any comments they wish to make on the draft paper to Committee staff by Friday 27 January.
The meeting moved into public session at 11.04am
6. Staffing levels in the NICS – Assembly Research Briefing
The Committee received a briefing from the Assembly Research and Information Service on staffing levels in the NICS.
Mr Girvan returned to the meeting at 11.06am
Mr Humphrey returned to the meeting at 11.24am
Agreed: to write to DFP to ask why aggregate NICS pay data cannot be provided, and the implications this has for monitoring spend on pay at a cross-departmental level; how this impacts on the ability of the Performance and Efficiency Delivery Unit (PEDU) in identifying efficiencies; and how the interface between HR Connect and the NICS pay bill can be interrogated.
Agreed: to request an oral briefing on the ongoing NICS Comprehensive Pay and Grading Review.
7. Barnett Formula – Assembly Research Briefing
The Committee received a briefing from the Assembly Research and Information Service on possible discussion themes on the Barnett Formula, in advance of the evidence from expert witnesses on 8 February.
Agreed: to copy the themes to the expert witnesses for consideration in advance of the evidence session.
Members noted the following items of correspondence:
- DFP: Response regarding the recent NICS recruitment competition.
- Committee for Social Development: Green New Deal.
- DFP: Systems Thinking.
Agreed: that the Bursary Student can draw on the DFP correspondence in preparing her report for Queen’s University, Belfast.
- DFP: Follow-up to Rates (Amendment) Bill session on 11 January.
- DFP: Utility Regulators.
Members also noted the following item of routine correspondence, which was emailed to members prior to the meeting:
- Consultation on the European Framework Decision on the transfer of supervision arrangements for offenders.
9. Committee Work Programme
Members considered a draft of the Committee work programme.
DFP: Proposed State Aid evidence session
The Committee noted correspondence from DFP regarding the requirement for an evidence session on state aid.
Agreed: to proceed with an evidence session on this issue.
The Committee noted that the Department recently provided the Committee with a written briefing on the outcome of the consultation on Building Regulations; and that related subordinate legislation will be brought forward for consideration by the Committee.
Agreed: to request an oral briefing from DFP on this issue.
Corporation Tax and Air Passenger Duty
Agreed: to request an oral briefing to update the Committee on progress on the devolution of Corporation Tax, and also on progress in respect of the devolution of Air Passenger Duty.
NI Direct briefing and visit
Agreed: that the Committee will visit and hold its formal weekly meeting at the NI Direct offices at Causeway Exchange on 29 February 2012.
Agreed: to request a briefing from PEDU regarding its role in monitoring and reporting on the delivery of the Programme for Government. This will inform the Committee’s scrutiny of the Unit’s work.
Agreed: that the Committee work programme is amended to reflect decisions made today, and the revised programme is published on the Assembly website.
10. Any Other Business
11. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 1 February at 10.00am in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 11.57am
Conor Murphy MP MLA
Committee for Finance and Personnel
1 February 2012