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: 11 January 2012

Venue: Room 30, Parliament Buildings

The meeting opened at 10.03am in public session

Mrs Judith Cochrane joined the meeting at 10.04am

1. Apologies.

Apologies noted above.

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

Agreed: that Agenda item 6 is taken in closed session in line with normal protocol.

2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 14 December 2011
Agreed: that the minutes are published on the Assembly website.

3. Matters Arising

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 regarding Reservoirs Bill

Members noted a response from DFP regarding the Reservoirs Bill.

DFP: Departmental Savings Delivery Plans

The Committee noted correspondence from DFP on Departmental Savings Delivery Plans.

Agreed:  to copy the DFP response to other statutory committees.

DFP: Response regarding software licence query

The Committee noted a response from DFP regarding the procurement of software for use in the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS).

ASDA: Response to Committee report on the Large Retail Levy and Small Business Rates Relief

The Committee noted correspondence from ASDA regarding the Committee’s report on the Large Retail Levy and Small Business Rates Relief.

Payday Loans

Agreed: to request that DFP writes to the relevant Whitehall Department to request that it considers this issue as a matter of urgency.

Agreed: that the Committee would also write to raise this issue with the NI Affairs Committee and the Consumer Council.

Mr William Humphrey joined the meeting at 10.08am

4. Rates (Amendment) Bill: Pre-introductory Briefing and Proposed Accelerated Passage

The Committee received a briefing from Sammy Wilson MP MLA, Minister of Finance and Personnel and Brian McClure, Head of Rating Policy Division, Central Finance Group, DFP.  The session was recorded by Hansard.

Agreed: that DFP would provide the Committee with a copy of the proposed amendment to the Bill without delay.

Agreed: that DFP would provide an amended version of its response to the Committee’s report following the meeting, which accurately reflects the report recommendations as agreed by the Committee.

Agreed: that DFP would respond in writing to the Committee regarding:

-  the response from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in relation to utility companies; and

-   the reasons why the Bill does not specify the amount of the levy, in terms of pence in the pound, to be charged to large retailers in 2013-14 and 2014-15.

Agreed: that DFP would update the Committee on the on-going work in relation to:

-  the evaluation of the existing Small Business Rates Relief Scheme; and

-  preparations for the revaluation of non-domestic property.

Agreed: that the Committee is content that the Rates (Amendment) Bill proceeds by accelerated passage, having been satisfied with the explanation and assurances provided by the Minister of Finance and Personnel in this regard.

Agreed: that a separate briefing, to be held in closed session if required, would be requested from DFP in relation to State Aid issues.  

5. Draft Programme for Government, draft Investment Strategy and draft Economic Strategy – DFP evidence session

The Committee heard evidence from the following DFP officials: Stephen Peover, DFP Permanent Secretary and Colm Doran, Acting Finance Director, Corporate Services Group. The session was recorded by Hansard.

Mr Ross Hussey left the meeting at 11.05am

Mr William Humphrey left the meeting at 11.06am

Mr William Humphrey joined the meeting at 11.19am

Agreed: to forward the issues outlined in the Secretariat paper to DFP for a written response. 

Agreed: to write to key stakeholders requesting that the Committee be copied in to any consultation responses they are making in relation to DFP commitments in the draft Programme for Government, draft Investment Strategy and draft Economic Strategy.

The Committee moved into closed session at 11.27am

6. Executive’s Review of the Financial Process Discussion Paper – Initial consideration of co-ordinated response

The Committee held an initial consideration of the co-ordinated Committee response to the Executive’s Review of the Financial Process Discussion Paper.

Mr Paul Maskey left the meeting at 11.37am

The Committee moved to public session at 11.42am

Mr Paul Girvan left the meeting at 11.43am

Agreed: to write to the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) to request an update on progress in the review of arm’s-length bodies which is being led by the Executive’s Budget Review Group.  

7. Correspondence

Members noted the following items of correspondence:

  • DFP: Outcome of consultation on the proposed Building Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012.
  • DFP: Response regarding Special European Union Programmes Body (SEUPB) and Peace Programmes.
  • DFP: Forecast Outturn Data.
  • DFP: Investing Activity Report.
  • DFP: Response to Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure on Creative Industries.
  • DFP: Statistical Bulletin – Employment in the NICS and Pay Statistics for the NICS 2011.
  • Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment: Insolvency rules for Buildings Societies.
  • Committee for OFMDFM: European Advisory Panel Meeting.
  • Correspondence from members of the public on equal pay issues.
  • DFP: Performance in relation to Committee Requests.
  • DFP: Personnel Statistics for the NICS.
  • Hastings Hotels: Proposed Large Retail Levy and Small Business Rate Relief.


Members noted the following routine correspondence emailed on Tuesday 9th January.

  • Advice NI Training Calendar 2012.
  • DFP Press Release - Analysis of personnel statistics for the NICS.
  • Third edition of SEUPB Public Affairs Bulletin ‘euroPA’.


8. Committee Work Programme

Members considered a draft of the Committee work programme.

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

9. Any Other Business

Equal Pay        

Agreed: that, given the level of public interest in this issue, all unrestricted papers received by the Committee regarding equal pay will be published online.

10. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 18 January at 10.00am in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 11.45am

Conor Murphy MP MLA
Committee for Finance and Personnel
11 January 2012

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