Minutes of Proceedings
Date: 03 July 2012
Venue: Room 106
Meeting began at 4.10pm
1. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
The Speaker sought any declarations of interest from the Commission in relation to items of business being discussed. None were declared.
2. CHAIRMAN'S BUSINESS
2.1 Meeting of the North South Parliamentary Forum Working Group
The Speaker informed Members a meeting on the North South Parliamentary Forum would take place following the Commission meeting.
The minutes of meetings held on the 29 May 2012 were agreed.
4. MATTERS ARISING
4.1 Commission Planning Day
The Clerk/Director General informed Members that due to diary commitments
over recess the Commission planning day would be arranged to take place
in September 2012. The Clerk to the Commission will liaise with Members
to arrange a suitable date.
4.2 Ormiston House – Update
The Director of Facilities provided Commission Members with an update in relation to the Ormiston House site. He informed Members that the planning application has now been approved, it is anticipated that the site will be re-advertised during August 2012.
4.3 Front Door Ramps – Update
The Director of Facilities provided Members with an update in relation to the schedule for installing front ramps at Parliament Buildings. Mr Welch assured Members that the impact would be minimised with the main construction taking place during the Summer Recess and the completion date would be during October 2012.
4.4 Parliament Buildings Roof Project – Update
The Director of Facilities provided Members with an update in relation to the roof project.
4.5 Business Efficiency Review – Update
The Clerk/Director General provided Members with a brief update in relation the progress of the Business Efficiency Review. A more detailed update will be provided to Members at the September meeting of the Commission.
5 CLERK/DG KEY UPDATE REPORT
The Clerk/ Director General provided Members with a brief overview of key issues contained within his update report, drawing Members attention to the following:
5.1 Corporate Business Plan 2011/12 – Monitoring Report
The Clerk/Director General requested Members to note the Corporate Business Plan 2011/12 end year monitoring report. Overall it has been a successful year with progress made on a range of issues. The Clerk/Director General conveyed his appreciation to Members and Secretariat staff for their support in helping to achieve a positive outcome.
5.2 Support Services Contract
The Clerk/Director General informed Members that the Support Services contract that covers catering, portering and the Assembly shop was awarded to Eurest commencing 9 July 2012. This contract will run for 3 years with the option of extending for 24 months.
5.3 Post Office
Members noted that the Post Office in Parliament Buildings opened on 2 July 2012. The Director of facilities provided Members with an overview of the services provided by the Post Office. Mr McElduff requested that a postmaster be issued to Members, Party Support staff and Secretariat staff outlining the facilities that the Post Office provides.
5.4 Financial Matters – Management Accounts May 2012 & June Monitoring Round 2012/13
The Director of Corporate Services provided Members with an overview of the figures of the management accounts for the two month period April – May 2012 and the June Monitoring Round 2012/13.
5.5 The Northern Ireland Assembly (Members' Salaries, Allowances and Pensions) Determination 2012
The Clerk/Director General provided Members with an update in relation to the progress made for the Independent Financial Review Panel Determination. The necessary administrative arrangements are proceeding and the Financial Services Handbook is currently being updated to reflect the necessary changes that the Determination requires. The Clerk/Director General also informed Members the Members Childcare Scheme is currently under consideration by IFRP and informed Members that a further update would be provided to a future Commission meeting.
Mr Ramsey left the meeting.
5.6 Civil Service Commissioners Order 1999
The Clerk/Director General requested Members to note for their information the paper provided to them on the Civil Service Commissioners Order 1999 and on the appointment to the post of Advisor to the Speaker. Members were asked to note in respect of the Advisor to the Speaker that appointments are;
• Made as employees of the Assembly Commission;
• Non-political and impartial;
• Made on merit through open competition;
• Permanent appointments; and
• Not made under the 1999 Order.
Mr Ramsey returned to the meeting.
6 NORTHERN IRELAND EQUALITY COMMISSION: Section 75 Annual Progress Report
The Clerk to the Commission spoke to a paper on the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission's submission of the Annual Report to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. The report details all actions taken throughout the reporting year 2011/12 in relation to the Assembly Commission's statutory obligations under Section 75 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Following discussion Members agreed the content of the report and further agreed the submission of the report to the Equality Commission.
The Speaker noted his thanks to relevant staff across the Secretariat in carrying forward this important piece of work.
7 AUTISM INITIATIVE
The Director of Facilities provided Members with an outline on the proposals for Parliament Buildings to achieve National Autism standards and to call these the 'Stormont Standards'. Mr Welch informed Members that extensive work has been done to date in Parliament Buildings on improving accessibility for persons with a physical disability, the Assembly is keen to continue improving on this and as such Building Services and the Equality Manager have met with the National Autism Society (NAS) and have agreed to work towards designing and achieving a charter mark for Parliament Buildings. Parliament Buildings would be the first public building to achieve the charter mark and NAS is hopeful that other public buildings would then follow suit. Following discussion Members agreed to the proposal to name the charter mark 'Stormont Standards' and took note of the work being undertaken with NAS.
All Members acknowledged the good work that has been achieved in relation to accessibility to Parliament Buildings and expressed their thanks to all the staff that has been involved in this project.
Mr Gill entered the meeting.
8 THE ASSEMBLY MEMBERS (INDERPENDENT FINANCIAL REVIEW AND STANDARDS) (2011 ACT) (COMMENCEMENT) ORDER (NORTHERN IRELAND) 2012
Mr Gill provided Members with background information in relation to the commencement of the outstanding provisions of the Assembly Members (Independent Financial Review and Standards) Act (Northern Ireland) 2011. Following discussion Members agreed to appoint by order that sections 17 and 25 to 33 of the Assembly Members (Independent Financial Review and Standards) Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 shall be brought into operation on 17 September 2012.
Mr Gill left the meeting.
9 80th ANNIVERSARY OF PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS – PHOTGRAPHIC EXHIBITION
Mr Ramsey spoke to a paper in relation to the 80th anniversary of Parliament Buildings. Following discussion Members considered and approved the plans and costs of the photographic exhibition.
10 ANY OTHER BUSINESS
10.1 Stormont Estate Power Failure
The Clerk/Director General provided an update in relation to the loss of power within Parliament Buildings on the 28th & 29th June 2012. He highlighted that a temporary substation had been constructed by Power NI and he was pleased to report that full power had been restored to the building. The Speaker thanked Directors and Officials in their response to managing the situation in his absence and that of the Clerk/Director General. Mr Ramsey highlighted the need to reassess the matter of business continuity in light of this incident and it was agreed that following the completion of the review by Internal Audit that the matter would be considered by the Commission at the September meeting. The commission further agreed that letters of appreciation should issue to the relevant staff that assisted in managing the incident.
10.2 The Speaker thanked Members for responding to Assembly Questions for Oral answer. In conclusion, the Speaker thanked Members for their contributions over the session and wished them a restful recess.
11 DATE OF NEXT MEETING
25 September 2012 at 4.00pm in Room 106
Meeting ended at 4.45pm
Head of the Commission and Corporate Support Unit
12 ORGANISATIONAL REDESIGN (Closed – Commission Members only)
All officials left the meeting with the exception of the Clerk/Director General. The Clerk/Director provided an update in relation to the organisational re- design strategic work strand which is part of the implementation of the Corporate Strategy 2012-16, including potential external resources to undertake the review and associated budget requirements.