The Northern Ireland Assembly is in Recess. The Business Committee will meet on the 1st of September and the First Plenary Sitting is the 7th of September.

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 07 September 2011

Venue: Room 30

The meeting opened at 10.04am in public session.

1. Apologies.

No apologies were received.

2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 29 June 2011

Agreed:  that the minutes are published on the Assembly website.

Mr McQuillan joined the meeting at 10.04am.

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.

Land and Property Services

Members noted correspondence from Land and Property Services, providing information on the guidelines for writing off rating debt, in follow up to the briefing on 29 June 2011.

NI Place-Names Project

The Committee considered correspondence from the DFP Minister and from the Committee for Arts, Culture and Leisure.

Agreed: to copy the correspondence with the Minister to the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure, and to forward any further correspondence relating to this matter as requested.

DFP: Public Procurement 

Members noted correspondence from DFP provided in follow-up to the briefing from Central Procurement Directorate on 29 June 2011.

Agreed: to write to DFP seeking further information on a number of points arising from the correspondence.

Consultation on Claims for Wrongful Death

The Committee considered correspondence from DFP on the Consultation on Claims for Wrongful Death as requested at the meeting on 29 June 2011.

4. Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) Equal Pay Settlement – Evidence from Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA) officials

The Committee took evidence from the following witnesses: Kieran Bannon, Assistant General Secretary; Ryan McKinney, Assistant Secretary and Billy Lynn, Chairperson, NIPSA Civil Service Executive Committee.  The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

Mr Ross Hussey declared an interest in having a relative as one of those omitted from the equal pay settlement and in being a member of a trade union.

Agreed: to forward the NIPSA beefing paper to the Committee for Justice.

Agreed: that the NIPSA briefing paper is provided to the DFP officials prior to their evidence session.

Agreed: that the Committee writes to DFP requesting further information in relation to the groups of staff falling outside the terms of the equal pay settlement. A draft request for this further information will be considered at next week’s meeting together with a list of potential witnesses to provide additional evidence.

The Chairperson left the meeting at 10.56am.

The Deputy Chairperson took the Chair at 10.56am.

Mr McLaughlin left the meeting at 10.56am.

5. Conduct and Discipline in the Civil Service – Assembly Research Briefing

Members received a briefing from Colin Pidgeon, Assembly Research on Conduct and Discipline in the Civil Service.

Mr McLaughlin returned to the meeting at 11.00am.

Mr Girvan joined the meeting at 11.09am.

Agreed: that follow-up information requested will be provided by Assembly Research.

Agreed: that the Committee will write to the DFP Minister to enquire whether, in light of the concern arising from the outcome of the recent disciplinary case involving a Permanent Secretary in NICS, the Minister is content that the existing procedures and penalties in the NICS Handbook are appropriate and proportionate for handing such cases.

6. Key NICS HR Issues – DFP Briefing

The Committee received a briefing on a range of key NICS human resource issues from the following DFP officials: Derek Baker, Director of Personnel for NICS and Mark Bailey, HR Manager. The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

NICS Handbook and Disciplinary Procedures

Mrs Cochrane left the meeting at 11.46am.

Agreed: that the DFP officials will provide any follow up information as requested.

Agreed: that the Committee writes to the Department to request that it prepares draft revisions to the relevant sections of the Disciplinary Procedures chapter of the NICS Handbook which address the gaps and issues identified by the Committee for the further consideration by members. It was also agreed that the Department should be asked to consider including “interference in the political process” to the list of examples of behaviour that can lead to dismissal for gross misconduct at Annex 1 to the Disciplinary Procedures.

NICS Equal Pay Issues

The Chairperson returned to the meeting and retook the Chair at 11.57am.

Mr McLaughlin left the meeting at 11.57am.

Mr McLaughlin returned to the meeting at 12.01pm.

Mr Bradley left the meeting at 12.16pm.

Mr McLaughlin left the meeting at 12.28pm.

NICS Sickness Absence

Agreed: that the DFP officials will return at a further date to brief the Committee on sickness absence in NICS.

Mr Hussey left the meeting at 12.30pm.

7. Correspondence

Members noted the following items of correspondence:

  • Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure: Budget Exchange Scheme;
  • DFP: Budget Flexibility and 2011-12 Monitoring Rounds;

Agreed: to copy the correspondence to the other relevant Assembly committees for information.

  • DFP: Proposed Regulations on matrimonial property regimes and the property consequences of registered partnerships;

Agreed: to copy the correspondence to the Committee for Justice.

  • Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People: 2011 Participation Awards;
  • DFP: Performance Statistics in Relation to Committee Requests;
  • DFP: Monitoring of Departmental Efficiency Plans – July 2011;

Agreed: to copy the correspondence to the other statutory committees for information.

  • Invest Strategy for Northern Ireland: Investing Activity Reports – July and August 2011;
  • DFP: 2011-12 Forecast Outturn Committee Reports – June/July Position;
  • DFP: Copy of correspondence sent to QUB Student Union representatives regarding tuition fees and higher education funding;
  • DFP: Minute on the Direction of Accruing Resources;
  • Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment: Response to Renewable Energy Inquiry;
  • Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment: Social Economy Enterprise Strategy
  • Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister: European Issues Event June 2011
  • Chairpersons Liaison Group: Note of key issues discussed and decisions taken;
  • Northern Ireland Affairs Committee: Report on Air Passenger Duty – Implications for Northern Ireland;
  • Ulster Bank: Customer Commitments;
  • Parents’ Education as Autism Therapists: Copy of correspondence sent to Minister;
  • DFP: Building Regulations (NI) 2011 – Phase 2 Consultation Proposals;
  • CBI NI: Response to HM Treasury paper – Rebalancing the NI Economy;
  • Construction Employers Federation: Invitation to Awards Gala Dinner;
  • Standards and Privileges Committee: Declaration of Members’ Interests;
  • NI Consumer Council: Public petition on action to lower the cost of car insurance in NI;
  • PAC: NICS Accountability Arrangements.


12. Committee Work Programme

Members considered a draft of the Committee work programme.

Agreed: that the work programme is amended to reflect decisions made today, and the revised programme is published on the Assembly website.

Agreed: to write to the Minister to ask for an update on the outcome of the HM Treasury consultation on devolving corporation tax powers.

13. Any Other Business

Agreed: to discuss sending a representative to the NI Economic Conference at the next meeting.

14. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 14 September at 10.00am in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.35pm.

Conor Murphy MP MLA
Committee for Finance and Personnel.


14 September 2011

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