Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Thursday, 30 May 2013
Venue: Room 30, Parliament Buildings
The meeting commenced at 2.05 p.m. in public session.
Apologies are listed above.
2. Draft minutes of the meeting held on 23 May 2013
The Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting held on 23 May 2013.
3. Matters Arising
There were no matters arising.
4. June 2013 Monitoring Round, Six-monthly Up-date on the Department of Justice Savings Delivery Plans and 2012-2013 Provisional Outturn Figures
Mr Mark McGuckin, Acting Director of Justice Delivery, Mr Glyn Capper, Deputy Director of Finance, and Ms Lisa Rocks, Head of Financial Planning and Budgeting, Department of Justice, joined the meeting at 2.06 p.m.
2.07 p.m. Mr Raymond McCartney joined the meeting.
2.08 p.m. Mr Tom Elliott joined the meeting.
Officials outlined the Department of Justice June 2013 Monitoring Round return, the current position in relation to the Savings Delivery Plans and the 2012-13 Provisional Outturn Figures.
2.15 p.m. Mr William Humphrey joined the meeting.
2.16 p.m. Mr Alex Easton joined the meeting.
A detailed question and answer session followed covering issues including: additional funding required for the delivery of the Desertcreat Training College capital project and the impact on both the Department of Justice and Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety budgets; the revised timescale for the delivery of the Desertcreat capital project; implications for the PSNI budget given the current position regarding the National Crime Agency and Northern Ireland; the estimation of costs to the Department of Justice in relation to the hosting of the G8 Summit and the reasons for the lack of information provided; the format of the current negotiations and discussions relating to the cost of hosting the G8 Summit; the Department responsible for leading the discussions on the costs associated with the G8 Summit and the other stakeholders involved; the Scottish experience of hosting the G8 Summit at Gleneagles in 2005 and the ongoing efforts to recoup costs; the key risks that have materialised for savings planned in future years relating to DoJ accommodation and IT Assist costs; whether there were savings relating to the review of the Causeway managed service contract; an explanation of the savings identified relating to Forensic Science NI; PSNI hearing loss claims; the identification of future savings; whether there are plans to close more police stations; the Prison Service Staff Exit Scheme costs; the impact of savings on the delivery of front-line services within the Safer Communities Directorate; and the administration and review of injury on duty awards for former police officers over 65 years of age.
The departmental officials agreed to provide the Committee with further information on the revised costs and timescale for the delivery of the Desertcreat Training College capital project in advance of the oral briefing scheduled for June, and to raise the issue of injury on duty awards for former police officers over 65 years of age with the PSNI.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department of Finance and Personnel to request an estimation of the costs to the Department of Justice in relation to the hosting of the G8 Summit.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department of Justice to seek the information previously requested on output based spend; a breakdown of costs and revised timetable for the Desertcreat Training College Capital Project; an explanation for the underspends not covered in the briefing document; and the context to the PSNI injury on duty recipients queries re pension levels.
2.46 p.m. Ms Rosaleen McCorley left the meeting.
5. Mental Capacity (Health, Welfare and Finance) Bill – Judicial Oversight
The Committee noted information provided by the Department of Justice on policy proposals in relation to the judicial oversight aspects of the Mental Capacity (Health, Welfare and Finance) Bill. Provisions in relation to judicial oversight will form part of the Bill that will issue for consultation in due course.
6. Financial Provisions Bill 2013
The Committee considered correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel providing a briefing paper from the Department of Finance and Personnel setting out the provisions in the Financial Provisions Bill relating to each Department including the Department of Justice.
The Committee noted the Department of Justice intended to provide the Committee with a written briefing paper on the impact of the Financial Provisions Bill.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to consider the matter further upon receipt of the further information from the Department of Justice.
7. Annual Action Plan on Human Trafficking for Northern Ireland
The Committee noted a copy of the Northern Ireland Human Trafficking Action Plan for 2013-14 and information provided by the Department of Justice on the work being carried out to tackle human trafficking under the themes of protection, prevention and prosecution.
i. The Committee noted a letter from the Department of Justice on the rationale for including the 'no real prospect' test to bail decisions in the consultation document on the Law Commission bail proposals and draft Bill, and the reasons for the envisaged timeframe to introduce a Bail Bill into the Assembly.
ii. The Committee noted correspondence from the Department of Justice providing the Criminal Justice Board's Action Plan in response to the recommendations of the CJINI thematic inspection report on: 'The Use of Early Guilty pleas in the Criminal Justice System'.
iii. The Committee noted the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service (NICTS) Corporate Plan 2012/15 and Business Plan 2013/14.
3.09 p.m. William Humphrey left the meeting.
iv. The Committee noted an invitation from the Department of Justice to a stakeholder event 'Working in Partnership to Reform our Prisons' on 27 June 2013 in Crumlin Road Gaol Conference Centre.
Agreed: Members agreed to advise the Clerk if they wished to attend the event.
v. The Committee noted a response on behalf of Mr Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Justice, to the Committee's request for sufficient time to be built into the process for consideration of EU opt-in decisions to enable the Minister of Justice to consult properly with the Committee.
vi. The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel providing a copy of the quarterly update on Post Project Evaluations from the Department of Finance and Personnel.
vii. The Committee noted a summary of progress on the delivery of Department of Justice capital projects detailed in the ISNI Delivery Tracking System.
viii. The Committee noted information on a University of Ulster School of Law seminar on 'Access to Justice, Legal Aid and Tribunals: the Australian Experience' on Wednesday 12 June 2013 at the Belfast campus.
Agreed: Members agreed to advise the Clerk if they wished to attend the seminar.
9. Chairman's Business
10. Any Other Business
The Chairman raised the subject of a recent decision by the Parole Commissioners for Northern Ireland to release a prisoner.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to invite the Parole Commissioners to attend a meeting to outline their role and responsibilities and how they undertake their work and answer Members' questions. Clarification on which matters relating to their work are reserved would be sought and if necessary the Committee would consider holding the briefing in closed session.
11. Date and time of next meeting
The Chairman reminded Members that an informal meeting with Solas would take place on Thursday 6 June at 12.45 p.m. in Parliament Buildings followed by an informal Committee planning meeting.
The next Committee meeting will take place on Thursday 6 June 2013 at 2.00 pm in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.
The meeting was adjourned at 3.11 p.m.
Mr Paul Givan MLA
Chairman, Committee for Justice
6 June 2013