ASSEMBLY BUSINESS

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Wednesday, 06 June 2012

Venue: Room 21

The meeting commenced at 1.30pm in closed session.          

Chairperson’s Introduction

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the meeting should be held in closed session as the Committee would be considering correspondence from the interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards.

The Chairperson welcomed Committee Members to the meeting.  The Chairperson welcomed Mr Colum Eastwood who replaced Mr Patsy McGlone, to his first meeting of the Committee.

1. Apologies

As detailed above.

2. Declaration of Interests

The Chairperson reminded Members of their obligation to declare any relevant financial or other interests before and during each Committee meeting.

Members noted the interests of Mr Colum Eastwood which had been tabled for the Committee’s information.

3. Draft minutes of the meeting held on 28th March 2012

Agreed: The draft minutes of the meeting held on 28th March 2012 were agreed by the Committee. 

4. Matters arising

The Committee noted that the Chairperson and Clerk had met with the evaluation team of experts from the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) in London who are assessing how the UK prevents corruption by elected representatives and the judiciary.  A report will be submitted to the Council of Europe’s plenary session and a copy will be circulated to the Committee on receipt.

The Committee noted that the Chairperson and Clerk had also meet with the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and the Chairperson of the Committee on Standards and Privileges at the House of Commons and had discussed issues around standards.

1.34pm  Mr McCann joined the meeting

5. Consideration of correspondence from the interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards

Members noted –

- the Clerk’s Paper;

- correspondence dated 23rd March 2012 received from the interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards in respect of a complaint against two Members;

- correspondence dated 23rd April 2012 received from the interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards in respect of a complaint against a Member and a Member of Parliament; and

- correspondence dated 2nd May 2012 received from the interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards in respect of a complaint against a Member.

1.35pm The Chairperson welcomed Dr Tom Frawley, interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards and Ms Marie Anderson, Deputy Ombudsman to the meeting and invited Dr Frawley to brief the Committee on his correspondence to the Committee.

1.44pm  The Chairperson thanked Dr Frawley and Ms Anderson for attending the meeting.

Agreed: Following discussion the Committee agreed that the complaint outlined in the interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards’ correspondence dated 23rd March 2012 was inadmissible and agreed that the Clerk should write to the complainant and the two Members complained of informing them of the Committee’s decision.

Agreed: Following discussion the Committee agreed that the complaint outlined in the interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards’ correspondence dated 23rd April 2012 was inadmissible and agreed that the Clerk should write to the complainant and the Member and former Member complained of informing them of the Committee’s decision.

Agreed: Following discussion on the correspondence dated 2nd May 2012, the Committee agreed that for the purposes of this complaint the Deputy Ombudsman should exercise the functions of Assembly Commissioner for Standards.

6. Appointment of the Northern Ireland Assembly Commissioner for Standards

The Clerk outlined the background to this issue.

Agreed: The Committee agreed  –

(a) to support the motion, in the name of Mr Barry McElduff MLA and Mr Alastair Ross MLA, to appoint Mr Bain as the Northern Ireland Assembly Commissioner for Standards;

(b) that the Clerk should write to the Committee on Procedures asking that it bring the proposed amendments to Standing Orders to the Assembly on 17th September 2012 subject to the appointment of Mr Bain; and

(c) that the Clerk should write to the interim Commissioner setting out how the Committee wants complaints received from now until 17th September 2012 to be handled.

7. Correspondence

The Committee noted correspondence received from Sir Christopher Kelly, Chairman, Committee on Standards in Public Life

Agreed: The Committee agreed to host a meeting with Sir Christopher and his colleagues on 24th September 2012.

8. Any other business

Members noted that the Committee would be considering a report from the interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards at its next meeting. The Clerk outlined the process that the former Committee had used when handling such reports.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that reports from the interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards should be treated as confidential and that the previous process for the handling of reports should continue.

Members noted that it had been necessary to circulate registration forms for the All-Party Group on Heart Disease and Stroke and the All-Party Group on Neurology by email to members seeking approval for the formation of the Groups.  It had been necessary to do this given the time since the last committee meeting.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed that, should these circumstances arise in the future, this process could be followed.

9. Time, date and place of next meeting

The next meeting of the Committee will take place on Wednesday 20th June 2012 at 1.30pm (lunch will be available from 1.15pm) in Room 21, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.57pm.

Mr Alastair Ross MLA
Chairperson, Committee on Standards and Privileges
20th June 2012

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