Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: Wednesday, 05 September 2012

Venue: Room 29, Parliament Buildings

2:00 pm The meeting opened in public session.

1. Apologies
Apologies are listed above.

2. Minutes of the meeting on 4 July 2012
Agreed: The minutes of the last meeting were agreed.

3. Matters Arising

Correspondence from Forbairt Feirste

The Committee noted correspondence from Mr Jake MacSiacais, Stiúrthóir, Forbairt Feirste regarding the acquisition of the Old Beechmount Leisure Centre site and sought support from the Committee as the project progresses.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that this was outside its remit and to forward the correspondence to the Committee for Social Development for its consideration; and further agreed to respond to Mr MacSiacais the rationale for this.

Correspondence from the Committee for Standards and Privileges

The Committee noted correspondence from Mr Alastair Ross, Chairperson, Committee for Standards and Privileges seeking the view of the Assembly Committees' on its report on the 'Unauthorised Disclosure of a Draft Report of the Public Accounts Committee'.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to consider a draft response in due course pending liaison between Committee Office stakeholders.

Correspondence from the Committee for Justice

The Committee noted correspondence from the Clerk to the Committee for Justice enclosing correspondence from the Department summarising its progress on Very High Costs Cases (VHCCs) following the Committee's previous report on 'Managing Criminal Legal Aid'.

2:09 pm Mr Anderson declared an interest stating that he is a member of the Committee for Justice.

Agreed: The Committee agree to reply to the Committee for Justice to request to stay updated on the matter and to clarify some additional points.

Correspondence from the Minister of Justice

The Committee noted correspondence from Mr David Ford, Minister of Justice regarding the revoking or a previous ministerial direction to the Taxing Master regarding VHCCs.

2:17 pm Mr Anderson declared an interest stating that he is a member of the Committee for Justice.

Correspondence from the Committee for the Office of First Minister and deputy First Minister

The Committee noted correspondence from Mr Mike Nesbitt, Chairperson, Committee for the Office of First Minister and deputy First Minister regarding the legislative proposals for the Office of the Ombudsman.

2:24pm Mr Hussey left the meeting.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to consider a draft response to the consultation at a future meeting.

Correspondence from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

The Committee noted correspondence from Mr Ian McKee, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development seeking the view of the Committee on its consultation on statutory biosecurity guidance for Brucellosis.

2:32pm Mr Hussey entered the meeting.

Agreed: The Committee to respond to the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development highlighting the concerns re biosecurity identified in the Committee's previous report on 'The Management of Bovine Tuberculosis' and to query why BTB was outside the remit of the consultaiton

Correspondence from Mr Bill Rodgers

The Committee noted correspondence from Mr Bill Rogers following a matter previously considered by the Committee regarding allegations of agricultural subsidy fraud.
The Committee considered a draft letter of reply to Mr Rogers.

2:54 pm Mr Girvan left the meeting.

At Mr Hussey's request the C&AG undertook to preserve all papers relating to investigative work undertook by the Audit Office.

Agreed: Following a detailed discussion the Committee agreed to send the letter to Mr Rodgers and also to provide him with a DVD of the discussion.

Correspondence from Mr Michael Copeland

The Committee noted correspondence submitted by Mr Michael Copeland from a whistleblower highlighting concerns relating to the level of overtime costs within the Department for Social Development.

3:00 pm Mr Girvan entered the meeting.

Agreed: The C&AG advised the Committee that his office was also in receipt of similar papers and undertook to assess the issues raised and report back to the Committee.

Correspondence from Mr Michael Copeland

The Committee noted correspondence submitted by Mr Michael Copeland from Mr Michael Townsley in connection with the Committee's recent report on the 'Bioscience Technology Institute'.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to respond to Mr Townsley and to invite him to provide the additional information referred to in his correspondence.

Correspondence from the Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service

The Committee noted correspondence from Dr Malcolm McKibbin, Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service providing an update as previously undertaken on the secondment arrangements for Mr Paul Priestly.

4. Visit by Public Accounts Committee – National Assembly for Wales

The Committee noted correspondence from Mr Darren Millar, Chairperson, Public Accounts Committee, National Assembly for Wales confirming its attendance to the Assembly on 12 – 13 September 2012 and an outline agenda for the visit.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to invite the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the Audit Committee to participate in the agenda for the visit.

5. Briefing on Northern Ireland Audit Office Reports on NIHE Management of Response Maintenance Contracts

Mr Kieran Donnelly Comptroller and Auditor General; Mr Brandon McMaster, Director; David Murdie, Audit Manager; and Joe Campbell, Audit Manager briefed the Committee on the report.

3:15 pm Mr Easton declared an interest stating that he is a member of the Committee for Social Development.

3:18 pm The meeting went into closed session after the C&AG's initial remarks.
3:35 pm Mr Hussey left the meeting.

3:54 pm Ms Boyle, Mr Anderson and Mr Dallat declared an interest stating that they each had formerly been members of the Housing Council.

3:58 pm Mr McLaughlin left the meeting.
4:02 pm Mr Dallat left the meeting.
4:05 pm Mr Dallat entered the meeting.

The witnesses answered a number of questions put by members.

6. Clarification of MORs

The Clerk to the Committee briefed the Committee on the current progress on its request to establish the processes for formal responses to recommendations in committee reports within other legislatures.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to consider an options paper on this matter once all responses have been received.

7. Any other business

The Chairperson reminded members that the response date to confirm their attendance at Committee meetings was 7 September 2012, and upon receipt of this information it would be published on the Assembly website at a later date.

8. Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 12 September 2012 at 2 pm in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 4:19 pm.

Ms Michaela Boyle MLA
Chairperson, Public Accounts Committee
12 September 2012

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