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Minutes of Proceedings - 13 December 2010

Present: 
Mr Fred Cobain MLA (Chairperson)
Ms Sue Ramsey MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr John Dallat MLA
Mr Paul Givan MLA
Mr Kieran McCarthy MLA
Mr Daithí McKay MLA

In Attendance: 
Mrs Shauna Mageean (Assembly Clerk)
Mrs Sîan Woodward (Assembly Bill Clerk) (Item 3)
Mrs Hilary Bogle (Assistant Clerk) 
Mr Michael Greer (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr Christopher McNickle (Clerical Officer)

Apologies: None.

3.40pm The meeting commenced in public session

1. Chairperson’s Introduction

The Chairperson welcomed members to the fourth meeting of the Ad hoc Committee and provided an overview of the day’s business.

2. Apologies

There were no apologies received.

5. Declaration of Interests

The Chairperson reminded members of their obligation to declare any relevant financial or other interests which are likely to be relevant to a substantial part of the work which the committee may be required to undertake.

3. Draft minutes of the meetings held on 8th December 2010

Agreed: The draft minutes of the meeting held on 8 th December 2010 were agreed by the Committee.

4. Matters arising

The Committee noted the correspondence dated 9 th December 2010 from the Chairperson of the Committee on Standards and Privileges in relation to amendments to Part 2 of the Bill.

5. Proposed Amendments to Part 2 of the Bill

Members noted the proposed amendments received from the Committee on Standards and Privileges in relation to Part 2 of the Bill on the appointment of an Assembly Commissioner for Standards.

The Chairperson welcomed Mr Paul Gill, Clerk to the Committee on Standards and Privileges and invited him to brief the Committee on the proposed amendments to the Bill.

3.47pm Ms Ramsey joined the meeting.

Agreed: Following discussion the Committee agreed the two proposed amendments to Clause 17: Firstly at 17(1)(b), page 7, line 10. Insert ‘at a relevant time’. Secondly at 17(2)(a), page 7, line 18. Leave out ‘the conduct of a member of the Assembly has failed to comply with’ and insert ‘a breach of …. has occurred’.

Agreed: The Committee agreed the proposed amendment to Clause 31(2), page 12, line 8. Leave out ‘or make an affirmation’.

Agreed: The Committee agreed the two proposed amendments to Clause 34: Firstly at 34(2), page 13, line 10. Insert ‘complaint or’. Secondly at 32(3), page 13, line 16. Insert ‘complaint or’.

Agreed: The Committee agreed the two proposed amendments to Schedule 4: Firstly at paragraph 6(2), page 19, line 21 – leave out ‘particular’. Secondly at paragraph 6(2)(b), page 19, line 24, to now read “by notifying the Commissioner that liabilities may be incurred of such description and maximum total amount as may be specified in the notification.” and leave out lines 26-29.

6. Consideration of outstanding Clauses

The Committee noted that at the last meeting Members raised concerns about the wide ranging definition of ‘family member’ used in schedule 3 which deals with the disqualification from being appointed or serving as Commissioner. The Committee also noted that the same definition of ‘family member’ is used in Schedule 1 which deals with disqualification from membership of the Financial Panel.

The Chairperson invited Mr Paul Gill, Clerk to the Committee on Standards and Privileges to brief the Committee on this issue.

Agreed: Following discussion the Committee agreed that the Clerk should write to the Assembly Commission and the Committee on Standards and Privileges forwarding a copy of the tabled suggested amendment and requesting that they draft an amendment to the Schedules with respect to amending the definition of family member to the definition agreed by the Committee for consideration at the next meeting of the Committee.

7. Formal Clause by Clause scrutiny

The Chairperson welcomed the following officials who were present on behalf of the Assembly Commission and the Committee on Standards and Privileges to respond to any questions that may arise:

Mr Hugh Widdis, Director of Legal Services

Ms Tara Caul, Legal Adviser

Mr Tony Logue, Clerk to the Commission

Mr Paul Gill, Clerk to the Committee on Standards and Privileges

The Committee commenced the formal Clause by Clause scrutiny of the Bill.

Clause 1 – Establishment and membership of the Panel

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 1 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 2 – Functions of the Panel

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 2 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 3 – Independence and openness

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 3 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 4 – Appointments to the Panel

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 4 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 5 – Disqualification from membership of the Panel

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 5 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 6 – Termination of membership of the Panel

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 6 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 7 – Code of Conduct for Panel Members

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 7 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 8 – Administration and Finance

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 8 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 9 – Annual report

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 9 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 10 – Meetings of the Panel

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 10 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 11 – Exercise of functions

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 11 subject to the amendment proposed by the Assembly Commission put and agreed to”

Clause 12 – Contents of determinations: salaries and allowances

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 12 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 13 – Contents of determinations: pensions, gratuities and allowances

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 13 subject to the amendment proposed by the Assembly Commission put and agreed to”

Clause 14 – Availability of determinations

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 14 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 15 – Meaning of ‘the Panel’

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 15 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 16 – Establishment of the Commissioner

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 16 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 17 – Functions of the Commissioner

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 17 subject to the amendment proposed by the Committee on Standards and Privileges put and agreed to”

Clause 18 – Independence of the Commissioner

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 18 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 19 – Appointment of the Commissioner

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 19 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 20 – Disqualification from being appointed or serving as the Commissioner

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 20 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 21 – Termination of the Commissioner’s appointment

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 21 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 22 – Further provision about the Commissioner

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 22 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 23 – Appointment of an acting Commissioner

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 23 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 24 – Directions to the Commissioner

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 24 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 25 – Investigations by the Commissioner

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 25 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 26 –Further investigations

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 26 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 27 - Reports

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 27 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 28 – Power to call for witnesses and documents

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 28 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 29 – Witnesses and documents: notice

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 29 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 30 – Witnesses: oaths

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 30 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 31 - Offences

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 31 subject to the amendment proposed by the Committee on Standards and Privileges put and agreed to”

Clause 32 – Protection from defamation actions

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 32 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 33 – Restriction on disclosure of information

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 33 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 34 – Transitional provisions

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 34 subject to the amendment proposed by the Committee on Standards and Privileges put and agreed to”

Clause 35 - Orders

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 35 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 36 – Consequential amendments

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 36 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 37 – Interpretation: general

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 37 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 38 - Commencement

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 38 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Clause 39 – Short title

“Question: That the Committee is content with Clause 39 as drafted put and agreed to”.

Members noted that the formal clause by clause scrutiny of the Bill together with consideration of amendments to Schedules 1 and 3 will be concluded at the next meeting of the Committee.

9. Any other business

There was no other business.

10. Time, date and place of next meeting

The next meeting of the Committee will take place on Monday, 17 th January 2011 at 3.30pm in the Senate Chamber.

4.22pm The Chairperson adjourned the meeting

Mr Fred Cobain MLA
Chairperson, Ad Hoc Committee
17 th January 2011

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