Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 01 February 2012

Venue: Room 30, Parliament Buildings

The meeting opened at 10.05am in public session

1. Apologies.

Apologies noted above.

Agreed: that Agenda items 4, 5 and 6 are recorded by Hansard and the Official Report published on the Assembly website.

Agreed: that Agenda item 7 is taken in closed session in line with normal protocol.

2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 25 January 2012
Agreed: that the minutes are published on the Assembly website.

3. Matters Arising

Mr David Hilditch joined the meeting at 10.08am

Mr Adrian McQuillan joined the meeting at 10.09am

Table of Requests for Information from the Department of Finance and Personnel

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.

DFP Response to Committee Report on the Executive’s Review of the Financial Process

Members noted that, as agreed at last week’s meeting, DFP officials are to meet with Committee staff and researchers to discuss the Committee’s Report on the Executive’s Review of the Financial Process ahead of a formal DFP response being received.

Agreed: that the Chairperson will also attend this meeting and that members will be provided with a briefing note on the meeting to inform their contributions to the plenary debate.

 

DFP Response on Review of Budget Allocations 2013-14 and 2014-15

The Committee noted a response from DFP to its letter regarding the forthcoming review of budget allocations.

Agreed: to notify DFP that further information on this matter will be sought during next week’s evidence session, including how departments will engage with their committees and whether the requirements for public consultation will be fulfilled. This will be important given the potential implications for the Committee’s decisions on accelerated passage for the associated budget bills in 2013 and 2014.

Agreed: to forward the DFP response and any follow up information to the other statutory committees for information.

 

Shared Services in the Public Sector

Members noted a press release from the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety which referred to a project to establish shared services in Health and Social Care.

Agreed: to write to DFP to ask what steps have been taken to promote the roll out of the NICS shared services, such as HR Connect, to the wider public sector and for an assurance that there will be no unnecessary duplication of costs across departments or arm’s-length bodies in pursuing shared services.

Agreed: to copy the letter to the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety for information.

Agreed: that Research Services will be asked to investigate whether there are any examples of other jurisdictions taking a joined-up approach to shared services across central government and arm’s-length bodies, such as Health Trusts, and which include complex areas of spending.

Mr Paul Girvan joined the meeting at 10.13am

 

4. Flexible Working – Evidence Session from Professor Sir George Bain

The Committee heard evidence from Professor Sir George Bain in relation to flexible working. The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

Agreed: that staff will prepare draft terms of reference for an inquiry into flexible working.

Agreed: that Research Services will be asked to examine potential case studies of interest.

Agreed: to request an initial oral briefing from DFP to establish the extent to which the Bain recommendations on flexible working and the NICS Homeworking Policy have been implemented.  

Mr Adrian McQuillan left the meeting at 10.48am

Mr Adrian McQuillan re-joined the meeting at 11.00am

5. The role of the NI Ombudsman in Public Procurement Disputes – Evidence Session

The Committee took evidence from the following witnesses: Dr Tom Frawley, Ombudsman and Marie Anderson, Deputy Ombudsman.  The evidence session was record by Hansard.

Mr David Hilditch left the meeting 11.23am

Mr David Hilditch re-joined the meeting at 11.57am

Mr Mitchel McLaughlin left the meeting at 12.03pm

Agreed: to liaise with the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister in relation to its review of the legislation to reform the Office of the NI Ombudsman.

Mr Mitchel McLaughlin re-joined the meeting at 12.04pm

6. Introductory briefing on Spring Supplementary Estimates and Budget Bill – DFP Evidence Session

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

Agreed: that members would consider the detailed information provided by DFP in relation to the Spring Supplementary Estimates and Budget Bill and would address any queries with DFP at next week’s meeting.

The Committee moved into closed session at 12.08pm

7. Draft Programme for Government, draft Investment Strategy and draft Economic Strategy – Final consideration of Committee responses

The Committee held a final consideration of its response to the draft Programme for Government, draft Investment Strategy and draft Economic Strategy.  The Committee also considered correspondence from the Green New Deal Group.

The Committee considered the response to the draft Programme for Government and draft Investment Strategy:

Agreed: that paragraphs 1 – 7 stand part of the Report;

Agreed: that the additional paragraph in relation to the Green New Deal is inserted after paragraph 11;

Agreed: that paragraphs 8 – 12 stand part of the Report;

Agreed: that paragraphs 13-19, as amended, stand part of the Report;

Agreed: that paragraphs 20-25 stand part of the Report;

Agreed: that paragraphs 26-27 stand part of the Report;

Agreed: that paragraphs 28-30 stand part of the Report;

Agreed: that paragraphs 31-38, as amended, stand part of the Report;

Agreed: that paragraphs 39-41 stand part of the Report;

Agreed: that paragraphs 42-44 stand part of the Report;

Agreed: that paragraphs 45-49 stand part of the Report;

Agreed: that paragraphs 50-51 stand part of the Report;

Agreed: that paragraphs 52-54, as amended, stand part of the Report;

Agreed: that an additional paragraph is inserted after paragraph 54.

The Committee considered the response to the draft Economic Strategy:

Agreed: that the additional paragraph in relation to the Green New Deal is inserted after paragraph 2;

Agreed: that paragraph 19, as amended, stand part of the Report;

Agreed: that an additional paragraph is inserted after paragraph 36;

Agreed: that all other paragraphs, subject to any relevant consequential amendments from the response to the draft Programme for Government, stand part of the Report.

Mr Leslie Cree left the meeting at 12.17pm

Mr Leslie Cree re-joined the meeting at 12.30pm

Mr Arian McQuillan left the meeting at 12.38pm

The Committee returned to public session at 12.39pm

Mr Adrian McQuillan re-joined the meeting at 12.41pm

Agreed: to forward the final version of the responses to the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister and the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment as applicable.

Agreed: to forward the final version of the responses to Committee members by email.

Agreed: to write to DFP to seek clarification in relation to the Green New Deal Group submission.

Agreed: to forward the correspondence from the Green New Deal Group to the Committee for Social Development and the Committee for Enterprise, Trade & Investment for information.

Agreed: to write to DFP to clarify the status of Public Service Agreements and what measurements will apply in relation to the Programme for Government.

Agreed: to write to DFP to request an update on the information from Treasury in relation to the cost of devolving Corporation Tax powers.

Agreed: to write to DFP to request clarification as to how the DFP commitments within the Draft Programme for Government, draft Investment Strategy and draft Economic Strategy contribute to tackling social disadvantage.

The Committee moved to public session at 12.42pm

8. Subordinate Legislation

The Committee considered three items relating to subordinate legislation.

  • SL1 – The Rates (Social Sector Value) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2012

Agreed: that the Committee for Finance and Personnel has considered DFP’s proposal for subordinate legislation under The Rates (Social Sector Value) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2012, and has no objection to the policy implications of the proposed legislation at this stage.

  • SL1 – The draft Rates (Regional Rates) Order (NI) 2012

Agreed: that the Committee for Finance and Personnel has considered DFP’s proposal for subordinate legislation under The draft Rates (Regional Rates) Order (NI) 2012, and recommends that it be affirmed by the Assembly.

 

  • SR 2012/02 – The Official Statistics Order (NI) 2012

Members noted that the Examiner of Statutory Rules had confirmed in his twelfth report to the Assembly for Session 2011-12 that he 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 Official Statistics Order (NI) 2012 and recommends that it be affirmed by the Assembly.

9. Correspondence

Members noted the following items of correspondence:

  • Committee for the Office of First Minister and deputy First Minister: Investing Activity Report.
  • DFP: Forecast Outturn Data.
  • Correspondence from member of the public regarding equal pay issues.
  • Note of Chairpersons’ Liaison Group meeting 17 January.
  • Public Accounts Committee: Annual theft and fraud report 2010-11.

Agreed: to request a briefing from DFP on this matter.  

  • Northern Ireland Affairs Committee: Government’s Response to its Report on Corporation Tax in NI.

 

  • NICS Pensioners Equal Pay Settlement.

Agreed: to invite evidence on this matter from Rosemary Connolly, Solicitor, which will be held in closed session.

Members also noted the following routine correspondence, which was emailed to members prior to the meeting:

  • HM Treasury Press Release - Government invites proposals for Business Finance Partnership; and
  • Various reports from Barnardo’s children’s charity.

 

10. Committee Work Programme

Members considered a draft of the Committee work programme.

DFP: Details of forthcoming legislation

Members reconsidered the correspondence from DFP of 13 June 2011 which set out DFP’s legislative programme for the Assembly mandate.

Agreed: to request an update on the position against each of the items of legislation listed in the correspondence; a timeframe for when it is anticipated they will come before the Committee; and details of any other items of primary legislation not included in that correspondence that it is now anticipated will be brought forward within the mandate.  

11. Any Other Business

12. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 8 February at 10.00am in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.48am

Dominic Bradley MLA
Deputy Chairperson
Committee for Finance and Personnel
8 February 2012

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