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Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 19 October 2011

Venue: Room 30

The meeting opened at 10.07am in public session.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

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

2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 12 October 2011

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

3. Matters Arising

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.

Executive’s Review of the Financial Process – Discussion paper

Members noted a request for written responses to the DFP discussion paper on the Executive’s Review of the Financial Process, for issue to other applicable Assembly committees.

Performance and Efficiency Delivery Unit (PEDU) briefing papers

Members considered a request from the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA) for a copy of the PEDU briefing paper from last week’s evidence session.

Agreed: to forward the paper as requested.

Mr Adrian McQuillan left the meeting at 10.08am

4. NICS Equal Pay Settlement – Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Evidence Session

The Committee took evidence from the following witnesses: Joe Stewart, Director of Human Resources, and Michael Cox, Deputy Director of Human Resources, PSNI. The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

Mr Paul Girvan joined the meeting at 10.20am.
Mr Adrian McQuillan joined the meeting at 10.25am.
Ms Judith Cochrane joined the meeting at 10.25am.

Agreed: that the Hansard record of the evidence session will be examined to identify any issues on which the Committee may wish to seek legal advice.

5. Pre-draft Budget Scrutiny – Legal Advice

This item was deferred for consideration from Matters Arising.

Agreed: to formally request legal advice from Assembly Legal Services on the feasibility of legislating to provide for a statutory process which would enhance the Assembly’s financial scrutiny, in particular at pre-draft Budget stage.

6. Better Systems for Delivery of Public Services – Advice NI Evidence Session

The Committee took evidence from the following witnesses: Bob Stronge, Chief Executive, Advice NI and John Little, Vanguard Method Systems Thinking lead practitioner. The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

Mr William Humphrey joined the meeting at 10.54am.

Agreed: that Committee staff will draft terms of reference for a possible Committee inquiry on systems thinking.

Mr William Humphrey left the meeting at 11.18am.

7. Correspondence

Mr William Humphrey joined the meeting at 11.20am.

Members noted the following items of correspondence:

  • Committee for Employment and Learning: Funding for thematic officers in Brussels;
    Agreed: to forward the correspondence to DFP as requested.
  • Jim Allister QC MLA: Consultation paper for Private Member’s Bill on Special Advisers;
    Agreed: Members will consider responding to the consultation individually.
  • NI Ombudsman: Role of Ombudsman in Procurement Complaints;
    Agreed: to forward the correspondence to Central Procurement Directorate (CPD) for comment on the Ombudsman’s role, and whether it is appropriate for CPD to signpost complaints to the Ombudsman. The Committee may consider an oral briefing on the issue from the Ombudsman at a later stage.
  • Citizens’ Advice Bureau: CPD complaint;
    Agreed: to request clarification from CPD of the specific points that will be taken on board in the future revision of relevant guidance notes.
  • Assembly Research: Briefing notes on the NI Economic Conference and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) Conference;
  • DFP: EU Division follow-up response;
    Agreed: to write to DFP requesting details on the formal line management structures in respect of the Special EU Programmes Body. The Committee also agreed to forward the follow-up response to the committees for: the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister; Enterprise, Trade and Investment; Health, Social Services and Public Safety; and Social Development.
  • Correspondence from member of the public regarding Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) HR issues;
    Agreed: to request confirmation of whether the current NICS disciplinary procedures provide for a fair hearing, taking account of European Court of Human Rights judgements and, if not, why this is the case.
  • Committee for Social Development: Invitation to Fuel Poverty event;
  • DFP: Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (Amendment) Scheme (Northern Ireland);

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

  • Save the Children – Making Work Pay, The Childcare Trap.

12. Committee Work Programme

Members considered a draft of the Committee work programme.

Large Retail Levy

Members noted that the Scottish Government is again giving consideration to the introduction of a large retailer levy.

Agreed: to commission research on the Scottish experience to help inform the Committee’s deliberations on this issue.

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

Damages (Asbestos-related Conditions) Act (NI) 2011

Agreed: to write to DFP requesting information on what regulations are required and request that these are brought forward promptly.

14. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 26 October at 10.00am in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 11.35am.

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

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