The Northern Ireland Assembly has been dissolved. The election will take place on Thursday 5 May 2016.

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 12 October 2011

Venue: Room 30

The meeting opened at 10.08am in public session.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

Mrs Cochrane joined the meeting at 10.09am.

Mr Hussey joined the meeting at 10.10am.

2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 5 October 2011

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

3. Matters Arising

Mr Girvan joined the meeting at 10.10am.

Table of 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.

Correspondence from members of the public on Equal Pay for PSNI staff

Members noted correspondence from two members of the public on residual issues relating to the NICS Equal Pay settlement.

The Committee moved into closed session at 10.13am

4. Draft DFP Paper on the Executive’s Review of the Financial Process

Members considered a draft discussion paper on the Review of the Financial Process, which will be issued to all MLAs by DFP.

Agreed: the Committee will co-ordinate a response from the appropriate Assembly committees to the discussion paper and a commissioning letter in this regard will be considered at next week’s meeting.

Agreed: Research and Information Services will prepare a briefing note, providing an analysis of the DFP discussion paper, which will inform the Committee’s co-ordinated response to the Department.

Members were reminded that the Committee’s event on the Overview of the Public Expenditure System will be held on Tuesday 18 October 2011 at 12.45pm in the Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings.

The Committee moved into open session at 10.21am

5. NI Law Commission Briefing

The Commission received a briefing from the following representatives from the NI Law Commission: Mr Neil Faris, Commissioner; Ms Imelda McAuley, Project Lawyer and Ms Clare Irvine, Project Lawyer, on the Commission’s work relating to DFP. This included land law reform, vulnerable witnesses in civil cases, business tenancies and multi-unit developments.

Mr Hussey left the meeting at 11.08am

Agreed: that the witnesses will provide a written update on the multi-unit development project.

Agreed: to ask the Minister of Finance and Personnel for an update on the position in respect of land law reform, vulnerable witnesses in civil cases and business tenancies, and an indicative timeframe for when related legislation will be brought to the Assembly.

6. Performance and Efficiency Delivery Unit - DFP briefing

Mr Hussey joined the meeting at 11.14am

The Committee received a briefing on the background, development and future work programme of the Performance and Efficiency Delivery Unit (PEDU) from the following DFP officials: Mr Richard Pengelly, Director, PEDU and Mr Paul Montgomery, PEDU.

Agreed: the witnesses will forward previous PEDU reports to the Committee for information. The witnesses will also provide details of work undertaken by PEDU in respect of improving the monitoring and reporting of Programme for Government targets.

7. Initial consideration of options for Inquiries

The Committee gave initial consideration to potential inquiry topics.

Agreed: to assist its further consideration, the Committee researcher will further investigate the proposed topics and, where appropriate, the Committee will take evidence from relevant stakeholders.

Mr Hilditch left the meeting at 11.41am

8. Correspondence

Members noted the following items of correspondence:

  • DFP: Performance statistics in relation to Committee requests.
  • All Party Working Group on Construction: Request for Committee input to issues affecting the Construction Industry.
    Agreed: that a response will be issued, providing an overview of construction issues that fall within the Committee’s remit.
  • DFP: Response to Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment on implementation of recommendation in Employment and Learning Report on Training for Success.
  • Committee for the Office of First Minister and deputy First Minister: Committee visit to Brussels.
  • Committee for Education: October Monitoring Round.
    Agreed: the Clerk will seek clarification on the request.
  • Correspondence from a member of the public on prompt payment of invoices.
  • DFP: Response regarding prompt payment of invoices.
    Agreed: to request a briefing from Account NI, including on the prompt payment of invoices.
  • DFP: Response to the Committee for the Environment on reducing departmental energy use.
  • BBC News Article: “Number of civil servants increases despite freeze”.
  • DFP Press Release: Finance Minister thanks Peter Stewart for representing NI interests on NAMA Board.
  • DFP Press Release: Major Drive by LPS to improve Mapping Quality.

The Committee also noted the following routine correspondence, which had been emailed to members prior to the meeting:

  • Advice NI Annual General Meeting.
  • DFP Press Release: Finance Minister meets with Ballymena Borough Council on Rating Proposals.
  • DFP Press Release: Re-appointments to NI Procurement Board.
  • DFP Press Release: Wilson applauds business lending clinic.
  • NI Law Commission: Reminder of closing date for the Consultation on Equality Impact Assessment: Reform of bail law and practice in NI.
  • Equality Commission Corporate Plan Consultation.

12. Committee Work Programme

Members considered a draft of the Committee work programme.

Large Retail Levy

The Committee noted correspondence from B&Q regarding the proposed large retail levy and small business rate relief scheme. Members also considered a note of the Chairperson’s meeting with representatives from Boots on this issue.

Agreed: to request information from the Department for Social Development on the Business Improvement Districts scheme.

Progress against DFP Business Plan

Agreed: the Committee will take an initial overview briefing on 26 October from the Permanent Secretary with subsequent, more in-depth sessions being arranged with individual business areas as the Committee considers necessary.

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

13. Any Other Business

14. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 19 October at 10.00am in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 11.49am.

Conor Murphy MP MLA
Committee for Finance and Personnel.
19 October 2011 

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