Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Venue: Room 29

1:46 pm The meeting commenced in closed session.

The Committee considered a briefing from the Clerk to the Committee and legal advice pertaining to Agenda Item 3.

1:54 pm Mr Easton entered the meeting.

2:05 pm Mr Girvan entered the meeting.

The following question was put:

That the Public Accounts Committee conducts its briefing from Sir Bruce Robinson in closed session:

Votes in favour:
Mr Sydney Anderson
Mr Alex Easton
Mr Paul Girvan
Mr Mitchel McLaughlin

Those against:
Mr Joe Byrne
Mr Michael Copeland
Mr John Dallat
Mr Ross Hussey

Those abstained:
Mr Paul Maskey

The vote was equal, and therefore the motion fell.

1. Apologies

Apologies are listed above.

2. Minutes of the meeting on 22 June 2011

Agreed: The minutes of the last meeting were agreed.

2:10 pm The meeting commenced in open session.

3. Briefing from Sir Bruce Robinson, Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service

The Committee were briefed by Sir Bruce Robinson, Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service following the conclusion of the disciplinary action taken against Mr Paul Priestly.

Members put a number of questions to Sir Bruce.

Correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel

The Committee noted correspondence from DFP forwarded by the Committee for Finance and Personnel regarding the disciplinary processes relating to the Senior Civil Service.

Agreed : The Committee agreed to write to the Office for the First Minister and deputy First Minister communicating its support for the Committee for Finance and Personnel’s decision to review accountability arrangements.

3:06 pm Mr Hussey left the meeting.

3:11 pm Mr Hussey entered the meeting

3:12 pm Mr Easton left the meeting.

3:29 pm Mr Copeland left the meeting

Correspondence from Mr Paul Priestly

3:29 pm Mr Copeland left the meeting

3:30 pm Mr Frew entered the meeting.

3:32 pm Mr Copeland entered the meeting.

The Committee noted but did not accept Mr Priestly’s letter of 28 June because of the content of its last paragraph:

“My actions were not intended in any way to undermine, obstruct or interfere with the important work of the Public Accounts Committee. I have always sought to serve the Committee to the best of my ability, with professionalism, integrity and honesty. I regret that my behaviour fell below these standards on this occasion.”

The Committee could not form any other construction of Mr Priestly’s actions than that they had been “to undermine, obstruct or interfere with the important work of the Public Accounts Committee”.

3:35 pm Mr Girvan left the meeting

4. Matters Arising

Correspondence received re Ulster Camogie Council

The Committee noted further correspondence from a journalist relating to irregularities at the Ulster Camogie Council.

Correspondence from the Northern Ireland Audit Office re General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland

The Committee noted correspondence from Mr Kieran Donnelly, Comptroller and Auditor General detailing the findings of an investigation undertaken after the Committee received a letter from a whistleblower regarding the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland.

Correspondence from Mr Chris Ryder re Northern Ireland Policing Board

The Committee noted correspondence from Mr Chris Ryder highlighting concerns regarding the levels of legal fees within the Northern Ireland Policing Board. C&AG briefed the Committee on the NIAO background to this correspondence.

3:40 pm Mr Hussey declared an interest stating that he is a current member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board

3:40 pm Mr Byrne declared an interest stating that he was a member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board at the time of the issues that have been highlighted by Mr Ryder.

3:41 pm Mr Girvan entered the meeting.

3:43 pm Mr Anderson declared an interest stating the he is currently a member of the Committee for Justice.

Agreed : The Committee agreed to refer the correspondence to the Committee for Justice for its consideration.

5. Memorandum of Reply

The Committee considered the joint Memorandum of Reply to the Committee’s reports on ‘Arrangements for Ensuring the Quality of Care in Homes for Older People’ and ‘Improving Adult Literacy and Numeracy’.

3:49 pm Mr Hussey left the meeting.

3:50 pm Mr Dallat left the meeting.

3:53 pm Mr Girvan left the meeting.

3:58 pm Mr McLaughlin left the meeting.

Members put a number of questions to Mr Richard Pengelly, Acting Treasury Officer of Accounts.

Agreed : The Committee agreed to clarify in correspondence certain details of the response.

6. Draft Forward Work Programme September – December 2011

The Committee considered its draft forward work programme for the autumn session.

Agreed : The Committee agreed the forward work programme and agreed to update its webpage to reflect its programme from September – December 2011.

7. Any other business.

Summer Recess

The Committee agreed that the Chairperson or in his absence the Deputy Chairperson would deal with any Freedom of Information requests received during recess.

The Committee agreed that the Chairperson would convene a meeting if required over recess.

8. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 7 September 2011 at 2:00 pm in room 29.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 4:09 pm.

Mr Paul Maskey
Chairperson, Public Accounts Committee
7 September 2011.

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