Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Venue: Room 29

2:00 pm The meeting opened in public session.

1. Apologies

Apologies are listed above.

2. Minutes of the meeting on 10 October 2012

Agreed: The minutes of the last meeting were agreed.

3. Matters Arising

Correspondence from DETI

The Committee noted correspondence from Mr David Sterling, Accounting Officer, DETI providing a reply from the Law Society in response to a recommendation of the Committee in its report on the Bioscience and Technology Institute.

2:08 pm Mr Girvan entered the meeting.

2:14 pm Mr McQuillan entered the meeting.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to invite the Law Society to a future meeting to explore in detail issues it has identified during its inquiry.

Agreed: The Committee further agreed to make the Lord Chief Justice aware of the Committee’s concerns.

2:47 pm Mr Hussey left the meeting.

Correspondence from DEL

The Committee noted correspondence from Mr Alan Shannon, Accounting Officer, DEL setting out the findings of an investigation relating to allegations of fraud within the South East Regional College which was initially highlighted by a whistleblower to the Committee.

2:53 pm Mr Copeland left the meeting.

2:55 pm Mr Anderson declared an interest stating that he was a member of the Committee for Employment and Learning.

Agreed: The C&AG undertook to factor the response into his auditing of the accounts and agreed to report back to the Committee his findings on the results of the exercise.

2:58 pm Mr Copeland entered the meeting.

Correspondence from Madden and Finucane Solicitors

The Committee noted a freedom of information request from Mr Peter Madden, Madden and Finucane Solicitors on behalf of his clients William Clarke, Cathal Boylan and Sinn Féin.

2:59 pm Mr McLaughlin declared an interest stating that two family members are employed by Madden and Finucane Solicitors.

2:59 pm Ms Boyle, Mr McKay and Mr McLaughlin declared an interest stating that they are members of Sinn Féin.

Odyssey Trust Company Ltd

Agreed: The Committee agreed to consider this matter in closed session.

4. Briefing on Northern Ireland Audit Office Reports on Statements of Rate Levy and Collection (2009-2010) & (2010-11)

The Committee considered the above reports and updated information from the Department of Finance and Personnel on Statements of Rate Levy.

Mr Kieran Donnelly Comptroller and Auditor General; Ms Louise Mason, Assistant Auditor General; Richard Emerson, Audit Manager; and Joe Campbell, Audit Manager briefed the Committee on the reports.

3:06 pm The meeting went into closed session after the C&AG’s initial remarks.

3:19 pm Mr Dallat left the meeting.

3:22 pm Mr Clarke declared an interest stating that he is a Councillor for Antrim Borough Council.

3:25 pm Mr Girvan left the meeting.

3:26 pm Mr Girvan entered the meeting.

3:26 pm Mr Anderson declared an interest stating that he is a Councillor for Craigavon Borough Council.

3:28 pm Mr Anderson left the meeting.

3:32 pm Mr Dallat entered the meeting.

3:40 pm Mr Anderson entered the meeting.

3:43 pm Mr Copeland declared an interest stating that he is a Councillor for Castlereagh Borough Council.

4:24 pm Mr Copeland left the meeting.

The witnesses answered a number of questions put by members.

5. Issues Arising from the Oral Evidence Session on ‘PSNI: Use of Agency Staff’

The Committee considered an issues paper relating to the previous week’s evidence session.

Proposed: Mr McLaughlin proposed that the Committee should invite Mr Joe Stewart, Mr David Best Mr Michael Cox and a Grafton representative to the Committee to give evidence.

Seconded: The proposal was seconded by Mr Daithí McKay.

Proposed Amendment: Mr McQuillan proposed that as an amendment the Committee should seek a written response from these witnesses to the Committee’s queries and having received that to decide whether another evidence session was necessary.

Seconded: The proposed amendment was seconded by Mr Clarke.

The following question was put:

That the Committee agrees to the proposed amendment by Mr McQuillan.

Votes in favour:                

Mr McQuillan
Mr Anderson
Mr Clarke
Mr Girvan

Votes against:

Ms Boyle
Mr Dallat
Mr McKay
Mr McLaughlin
Mr Rogers

The following question was put:

That the Committee agrees to the proposal by Mr McLaughlin.

Votes in favour:

Ms Boyle
Mr Dallat
Mr McKay
Mr McLaughlin
Mr Rogers

Votes against:

Mr McQuillan
Mr Anderson
Mr Clarke
Mr Girvan

Agreed: The proposal by Mr McLaughlin was agreed by 5 votes to 4.

4:37 pm Mr Dallat left the meeting.

3. Matters Arising

Odyssey Trust Company Ltd

The Committee considered a briefing from the Clerk detailing the background of its decision to refer the matter to the Audit Office.

4:41 pm Mr Anderson left the meeting.

4:49 pm Mr Anderson entered the meeting.

The C&AG briefed the Committee on the current progress of the investigation.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to seek legal advice in relation to its next steps.

6. Any other business

The Chairperson briefed the Committee on the programme of its scrutiny workshop on 24 October.

7. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 24 October 2012 at 2:00 pm in Room 29, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 5:05 pm.

Ms Michaela Boyle
Chairperson, Public Accounts Committee
24 October 2012

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