Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 01 June 2011

Venue: Room 30

The meeting opened at 10.06am in public session.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

Agreed: that the evidence session at Agenda item 5 is recorded by Hansard and the Official Report published on the website.

2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 25 May 2011

Agreed: that the minutes are amended to include an additional apology and published on the Assembly website as amended.

3. Matters Arising

Requests for Information from DFP

The Committee noted the table of requests for information from the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) which provided an update on any matters arising not covered elsewhere on the agenda.

Equal Pay Issues

The Committee noted correspondence from two members of the public on equal pay issues.

Agreed: to consider whether the Committee wishes to seek a legal opinion on the interpretation of the Equal Pay settlement, following receipt of DFP’s briefing paper outlining the key issues that have arisen from the settlement and the DFP position in respect of each issue. It was also agreed that briefing will be required from Trade Union Side on matters needing clarification.

Overview of Public Expenditure System

Members noted the Terms of Reference for the DFP-led Review of Financial Process in NI.

Agreed: to request that DFP schedules an overview briefing on public expenditure for all MLAs and committee staff immediately after the summer recess.

4. Legacy Report of Predecessor Committee

The Committee considered a copy of the Legacy Report of its predecessor Committee.

Report on the Executive’s Draft Budget 2011-15

Members noted the Executive Summary and Key Conclusions and Recommendations from the predecessor Committee’s Report on the Executive’s Draft Budget 2011-15.

Agreed: to seek a written response to the Report from DFP in advance of the evidence session on the Review of Financial Process, scheduled for 15 June 2011.

Budget Scrutiny Inquiry

The Committee considered the Executive Summary and the Key Conclusions and Recommendations from the predecessor Committee’s Third Report on the Inquiry into the Role of the Assembly in Scrutinising the Executive’s Budget and Expenditure.

Agreed: to request that DFP provides an analysis setting out how the applicable conclusions and recommendations from this report and from the previous Committee’s Report on the Executive’s Draft Budget 2011-15 have been or could be incorporated into the Terms of Reference for the Review of Financial Process.

Agreed: the Secretariat will draft an implementation plan for the Committee to take forward the applicable recommendations arising from the previous Committee’s Third Report on the Inquiry into the Role of the Assembly in Scrutinising the Executive’s Budget and Expenditure.

Agreed: to request an update from DFP on the work of the Executive’s Budget Review Group (BRG) including: the identification of any additional resources; and whether the BRG monitors the realisation of additional revenue included in the Budget 2011-15 and, if so, an update on the current position in this regard.

Public Procurement

The Committee noted the Executive Summary and Key Conclusions and Recommendations from the predecessor Committee’s Report on the Inquiry into Public Procurement in Northern Ireland. Members also noted a DFP briefing paper from February 2011, which provided an update on progress against the recommendations, together with the Public Procurement Action Plan and draft Procurement Guidance Notes.

Agreed: to schedule an oral briefing on public procurement from DFP for 29 June 2011, to include a further progress update on the implementation of the predecessor Committee’s recommendations.

Senior Civil Service Pay Review

The Committee noted the predecessor Committee’s response to the Review Body on Senior Salaries’ report on the Review of the NI Senior Civil Service (SCS) Pay 2010.

Agreed: to invite DFP officials to give an oral briefing on a range of Human Resource issues, including SCS pay, equal pay and sickness absence.

Civil Law

Members noted that DFP currently has responsibility for Civil Law, including Land Law.

Agreed: to ask DFP what consideration has been given to transferring responsibility for Civil Law to the Department of Justice (DOJ), and details of any discussions that have taken place with DOJ in this regard.

Agreed: the Committee will revisit the predecessor Committee’s Legacy Report at a later date.

5. Main Estimates and Budget (No. 2) Bill

The Committee took evidence from the following DFP officials: Michael Brennan, Head of Central Expenditure Division, DFP and Agnes Lennon, Central Expenditure Division, DFP. The session was recorded by Hansard.

Agreed: to inform the committees for Agriculture and Rural Development and Education of the excess votes for their respective departments before making a decision on the granting of accelerated passage for the Budget (No. 2) Bill. The Public Accounts Committee would be copied into this correspondence for information.

6. Rebalancing the NI Economy - Devolution of Corporation Tax Powers: Assembly Research Briefing

The Committee received a briefing from Assembly Research on the Research paper, Devolution of Corporation Tax.

Mr Girvan left the meeting at 11.50am.

Mr Girvan returned to the meeting at 11.52am.

Agreed: to forward the Research paper to DFP in advance of the evidence session on 15 June, with a request that the Department provides answers to the specific issues raised in the paper.

Agreed: to forward the Research paper to the Enterprise, Trade and Investment (ETI) Committee, in view of ETI’s interest in this matter. The Committee will also share any DFP papers on this issue with the ETI Committee. In addition, given the cross-cutting nature of the corporation tax issue, the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (COFMDFM) will also be kept informed of deliberations on the matter.

Agreed: the Committee will consider a draft motion for a plenary debate on the devolution of corporation tax powers at next week’s meeting.

The Committee noted the following papers relating to corporation tax:

  • Economic Advisory Group – The Impact of Reducing Corporation Tax on the Northern Ireland Economy
  • Northern Ireland Affairs Committee – Corporation Tax in Northern Ireland
  • HM Treasury – Rebalancing the Northern Ireland Economy
  • DFP press release – Finance Minister welcomes report on Corporation Tax
  • NI Human Rights Commission – Response to Consultation on Devolving Corporation Tax to Northern Ireland

Agreed: to request, via the ETI Committee, an oral briefing from the Economic Advisory Group on the report entitled The Impact of Reducing Corporation Tax on the Northern Ireland Economy.

The meeting was suspended at 12.05pm.

The meeting resumed at 12.08pm.

7. Subordinate Legislation

The Committee considered the following subordinate legislation:

SR 2011 No. 157 Cross Border Mediation Regulations (NI) 2011

The Committee noted that the Examiner of Statutory Rules had no points to raise by way of technical scrutiny in relation to the Rule.

Agreed: That the Committee for Finance and Personnel has considered The Cross-Border Mediation Regulations (NI) 2011 and has no objection to the Rule.

Members also noted the following items of subordinate legislation, which are not subject to the Assembly resolution procedures:

  • SR 2011 No. 128 Pensions Increase (Modification) Regulations (NI) 2011
  • SR 2011 No. 129 Pensions Increase (Review) Order (NI) 2011

8. Correspondence

Members noted the following items of correspondence:

  • NI Statistics and Research Agency: Analysis of Sickness Absence in the NI Departments 2009-10.
  • DFP Press Release: Analysis of sickness absence in the NI Departments 2009-10.
  • Press release from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy regarding Civil Service sickness absence.
  • Chartered Society of Physiotherapy: Request for copy of DFP’s “ Overview of Public Expenditure” presentation from the Committee’s 25 May 2011 meeting;
    Agreed: to forward a copy of the presentation as requested.
  • Investment Strategy Northern Ireland: Investing Activity Report, DFP, May 2011.
  • DFP: Minute on the Direction of Accruing Resources.
  • DFP: Forecast Outturn Reports March 2011.
  • COFMDFM: Invite to EU issues discussion forum event.
    Agreed: the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson will notify the Clerk if they are available to attend the event.

9. Draft Forward Work Programme

The Committee considered the draft work programme containing a schedule of business until summer recess.

The Committee noted correspondence from the Big Lottery Fund requesting an opportunity to brief the Committee on the impact of lottery funding and work in NI.

Agreed: to request a written briefing explaining the relevance of the matter to the remit of DFP in the first instance.

Agreed: that the Work Programme is updated to reflect any agreements made today and published on the Committee’s website.

10. Any Other Business

Agreed: that, to reduce correspondence in packs and to reduce paper, routine papers – such as invitations, circular press releases and external documents provided for information – be circulated via email before the meeting instead of being included in packs.

11. Date, time and place of next meeting.

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 8 June 2011 in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.14pm.

Conor Murphy MP MLA
Committee for Finance and Personnel.
8 June 2011 

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