Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2014/2015

Date: 13 May 2014

Venue: Room 106, Parliament Buildings

The meeting commenced at 12.50pm

1. APOLOGIES

No apologies were received.                    

2. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

The Speaker sought any declarations of interest from the Commission in relation to items of business being discussed.  Ms Ruane declared an interest in relation to Item 8, in her capacity as a Member of the Policing Board. The Clerk/Chief Executive declared an interest on behalf of all staff in relation to item 15/Pay Remit 2014.

3. CHAIRMAN’S BUSINESS

The Speaker thanked everyone on behalf of the Commission who had been involved in the arrangements for the Giro D’Italia at Parliament Buildings. The event had clearly been a success and a positive showcase for Northern Ireland.

The Speaker said that he would be taking Item 15 in closed session and all Officials with the exception of the Clerk/CE and the Director of Corporate Services would leave the meeting.

4. MINUTES OF MEETINGS – 2 APRIL AND 28 APRIL 2014

Minutes of the meetings on the 2 April 2014 and 28 April 2014 were agreed for publication.

5. MATTERS ARISING

5.1 Roof Project – Update

David Lynn, Building Services, provided an update on the progress of the Roof Project in Parliament Buildings and informed Members that the contractors had erected a tower crane at the rear of the building and would soon start to erect extensive scaffolding. Work to the front of Parliament Buildings would be done during the Summer Recess. The Commission emphasized the importance of ongoing communications with Members.

5.2 Ormiston House – Update

David Lynn provided an update on progress on the sale of the Ormiston House site and informed Members that a final recommendation would be brought to the next meeting.

6. CLERK/CE KEY UPDATE REPORT

The Clerk/CE provided Members with an update on the key issues arising in his monthly report.

6.1 Management Accounts 2013/14

The Clerk/CE referred Members to the updated table of Management Accounts tabled at the meeting. The Commission noted the figures. 

6.2 Gender Action Plan – Update

The Clerk/CE informed the Commission that a Gender Action Plan Steering Group had developed and issued a questionnaire to Secretariat staff on 17 February 2014. In total, 192 responses were received and the Group will meet shortly to decide what action may be required in light of the analysis of the responses.

7. ASSEMBLY COMMISSION CORPORATE GOVERNANCE ARRANGEMENTS

7.1 Draft Assembly Commission Handbook

The Clerk/CE will arrange meetings with the Commission Members individually over the coming weeks to seek their views on the revised draft.

7.2 Measuring Commission Effectiveness

The Clerk/CE asked the Commission Members to consider the revised checklist and to agree to undertake an evaluation exercise.

Ms Ruane said there was a notable absence of equality issues throughout the proforma and this needed to be addressed.

The Clerk/CE will include an additional question on equality, subject to Commission Members’ agreement, before issuing the proforma to Members. The results will be brought to a future meeting.

7.3 Delegated Authority Arrangements

This issue had been discussed at a previous Commission meeting and Members had asked for further information on other schemes of delegation. This was now provided. The Clerk/CE invited the Commission to consider and, if satisfied, to approve a delegated authority.

Ms Ruane stated that she viewed the proposed financial limits to be too high and after a discussion it was agreed that the Clerk/CE would review the proposed figures and bring a paper to a future Commission meeting.

7.4 Information Management Processes

The Clerk/CE said that this paper asked the Commission to approve the creation of a dedicated shared web space to support Commission Members and to also approve a reformatted template for the submission of future papers to the Commission.

It was agreed that the Clerk/CE would arrange to meet Commission Members individually to seek their views.    

8. DRAFT PSNI SEARCH MOU

This issue had been discussed at the previous meeting of the Commission and further information had been sought. The Clerk/CE provided Members with a summary of the information obtained.

Ms Ruane sought clarity on a number of issues including differences in approach. It was agreed that these issues would be raised with the PSNI and a further paper brought back to the Commission.

9. EMPLOYERS AND PUBLIC LIABILITY INSURANCE

The Director of Corporate Services provided a paper which detailed a further analysis of the options previously presented for the management of future insurance cases involving defamation. Commission Members considered the options and raised some further questions which the Director of Corporate Services will take up with the insurer. In agreeing in principle to seek recovery of some or all of the excess from Members, the Commission wished to understand the various implications of agreeing 100% recovery, 50% recovery or a fixed sum recovery, eg, £10k.

10. LAPTOP REPLACEMENT BUSINESS CASE

The Director of information and Outreach provided a paper outlining the business case for the replacement of laptops. After consideration, the business case was approved.

The Director of Information and Outreach will inform Commission members of any of their party members who currently do not have an Assembly laptop.

11. MEMBERS SURVEY

The Director for Clerking and Reporting provided a paper outlining a proposal to carry out a Members survey in the near future. The proposed survey will be both qualitative and quantitative and Commission Members were asked to encourage party colleagues to complete the survey.

Ms Ruane asked for a question on equality/good relations to be included in the survey. The Director for Clerking and Reporting agreed to take this forward by correspondence with Commission Members before issuing the survey.

12 Committee for Standards and Privileges - Consultation

The Clerk/CE said that as part of a consultation exercise, the views of the Commission on the review of the Assembly’s Code of Conduct and Guide to the Rules Relating to the Conduct of Members has been sought by the Committee on Standards and Procedures. In order to provide time for appropriate consideration it was agreed that the Clerk to the Commission would seek an extension to the response date.

13. AOB

No issues were raised.

14. DATE OF NEXT MEETING

The next meeting will take place on Wednesday, 18 June 2014 at 2.00pm in Room 106.

The Speaker requested that all Officials with the exception of the Clerk/CE and the Director of Corporate Services leave the meeting for the remaining Business Matter.

Tony Logue 

Head of the Commission and Corporate Support Unit 

15. PAY REMIT 2014

The Director of Corporate Services presented a further paper on the Secretariat staff pay award for 2014 following receipt of a pay claim by NIPSA on behalf of its members. Members considered the comparative data provided in the paper and noted that developments within the NICS were still unknown.  Subject to the Commission’s final approval, begin negotiations on a without prejudice basis and explore comparative data within the NICS.

Meeting concluded at 2.30pm.

Mr T Reaney
Clerk/Chief Executive

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