Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Venue: Room 29

2:02 pm The meeting opened in public session.

1.  Apologies

Apologies are listed above.

2. Minutes of the meeting on 18 January 2012

Agreed: The minutes of the last meeting were agreed. 

3. Matters Arising

Correspondence from the Northern Ireland Policing Board

The Committee noted correspondence from Mr Brian Rea CB, Chair, Northern Ireland Policing Board setting out the actions being taken by NIPB in response the Committees’ concerns.

2:05 pm Mr Anderson entered the meeting.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to copy the correspondence to Mr Ryder.

Correspondence re North West Regional College

The Committee noted correspondence from a former employee of the North West Regional College highlighting irregularities relating to the appointment of directors and concerns relating to the scope and findings of a review being completed by PwC.

2:14 pm Mr Copeland left the meeting.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to take the matter forward in consultation with the DEL Committee.

Clerk’s Brief re Whistleblower Correspondence Alleging Agricultural Subsidy Fraud

The Committee considered a brief from the Clerk to the Committee which reviewed the handling of this case by the predecessor Committee.

2:20 pm Mr Copeland entered the meeting.

2:21 pm Mr McQuillan entered the meeting.

2:27 pm Mr Murphy left the meeting.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to respond to Mr Tom Buchanan MLA the whistleblower and the Agriculture Commitee setting out the Committee’s findings.

Correspondence from the Drivers Instructors Association Northern Ireland

The Committee noted correspondence from Mr Tom Burns, Chair, Driving instructors Association Northern Ireland highlighted concerns relating to the effectiveness of high intensity CBT tests for learner riders.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that this fell properly in the Environment Committee’s remit.

4. DFP Annual Theft and Fraud Report 2010-2011

Correspondence from the Department of Finance and Personnel

The Committee noted correspondence from Ms Fiona Hamill, Treasury Officer of Accounts, Department of Finance and Personnel attaching the ‘Annual Fraud and Theft Report 2010-2011’.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the correspondence to the Committee for Finance and Personnel for its consideration.

2:46 pm The meeting went into closed session. 

5. NICS Secondment Arrangements

The Committee noted correspondence from Dr Malcolm McKibbin, Head of the Civil Service provided the information previously sought by it regarding secondment arrangements within the NICS.

2:46 pm Ms Kelly from Assembly Legal Services joined the meeting to advise the Committee as client in confidence. External advisers left the meeting.

The Committee were briefed by Ms Kelly on the legal advice sought in relation to confidentiality in public sector employment templates.

This was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to consider these options in light of the reply still pending from Dr McKibbin and to write to him on a point of clarification.

The Committee also agreed a further request for legal advice.

3:25 pm Ms Kelly left the meeting.

3.32 pm External advisers rejoined the meeting.

6. Issues arising from the oral evidence session on NIAO ‘Bioscience Technology Institute’

The Committee considered an issues paper on this evidence session.

4:09 pm Mr McQuillan left the meeting.

4:22 pm Mr Copeland left the meeting.

A member suggested that the Committee cross-reference serious breaches by officials in successive reports of the Committee over a defined term, to identify legacy and succession issues.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to consider options on this approach.

7. Fifth Composite Report on Issues Dealt with by Correspondence

Correspondence from the Department for Regional Development

The Committee noted correspondence from Mr David Orr, Accounting Officer, Department for Regional Development providing the information sought by the Committee following the NIAO report on ‘Improving the Strategic Roads Network – The M1/Westlink and M2 Improvement Schemes’. 

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to clarify some of the information contained within the response.

Correspondence from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment

The Committee noted correspondence from Mr David Sterling, Accounting Officer, Department Enterprise, Trade and Investment providing the information sought by the Committee following the NIAO report on ‘Review of the Health and Safety Executive’. 

Correspondence from the Department of Social Development

The Committee noted correspondence from Mr Will Haire, Accounting Officer, Department of Social Development providing the information sought by the Committee following the NIAO report on ‘Compensation Recovery Unit – Maximising the Recovery of Social Security Benefits from Compensators’. 

4:30 pm Mr McLaughlin left the meeting.

4:32 pm Mr Byrne left the meeting.

4:35 pm Mr Byrne entered the meeting.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to highlight some of the issues identified within the response to the DETI Committee given their relevance to its current work programme.

7. Consideration of draft Committee Report on ‘The Use of Locum Doctors by Northern Ireland Hospitals’

4:36 pm Mr Easton declared an interest stating that he is the Assembly Private Secretary for the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety.

Mr Easton left the meeting.

The Committee considered its draft report on ‘The Use of Locum, Doctors by Northern Ireland Hospitals’.

Paragraphs 10 - 19 read and agreed.

Paragraph 20 read, amended and agreed.

Paragraphs 21 – 22 read and agreed.

Paragraph 23 read, amended and agreed.

Paragraphs 24 – 26 read and agreed.

Paragraph 27 read, amended and agreed.

Paragraphs 28 – 29 read and agreed.

Paragraphs 30 – 31 deferred for further consideration.

Paragraphs 32 – 34 read and agreed.

Paragraph 35 read, amended and agreed.

Paragraph 36 read and agreed.

Paragraph 37 read, amended and agreed.

4:47 pm Mr Anderson left the meeting.

Paragraphs 38 – 40 read and agreed.

Paragraph 41 deferred for further consideration.

Paragraphs 42 – 43 read and agreed.

Paragraph 44 read, amended and agreed.

Paragraphs 45 – 47 read and agreed.

Paragraph 48 deferred for further consideration.

7. Any other business

The Chairperson informed the Committee that Dr Malcolm McKibbin, Head of the Civil Service phoned him to seek an informal courtesy meeting with him and Stephen Peover, Accounting Officer DFP and that the meeting would take place on Monday 30 January.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to have a report back on the content of the meeting.

8. Date, time and place of next meeting 

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 18 January 2012 at 2:00 pm in the Room 29, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 5:05 pm.

Mr Paul Maskey MP MLA
Chairperson, Public Accounts Committee
1 February 2012

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