Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 20 June 2012

Venue: Room 30

The meeting opened at 10.02am in public session. 

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

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

2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 13 June 2012

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 (DFP)

The Committee noted the table of requests for information from DFP which provided an update on any matters arising not covered elsewhere on the agenda.

DFP: Update on the Legislative Consent Motion (LCM) – Defamation Bill

Members noted correspondence from DFP regarding the LCM on the Defamation Bill.

The Committee agreed to take Agenda item 7: Correspondence as its next item of business.

Mr Roy Beggs joined the meeting at 10.07am

Mr David Hilditch joined the meeting at 10.08am

Mr Adrian McQuillan joined the meeting at 10.10am

4. Correspondence

Members noted the following items of correspondence:

  • DFP: Programme for Government Delivery Plans
  • Correspondence from Member of the Public: Idea for NICS Departmental savings on the cost of ink;
    Agreed:
    to forward the correspondence to DFP for a response.
  • Correspondence from Member of the Public: Equal Pay – NI Water Staff;
    Agreed: to forward the correspondence to DFP for a response. The Department’s response will be shared with the relevant statutory committee.
  • Correspondence from Member of the Public: EO2 Comprehensive Pay & Grading Review 2009;
    Agreed: to request an update from DFP on the progress of the Review and for comment on the issues raised in the correspondence.
  • Correspondence from Member of the Public: NICS Equal Pay Settlement – Agri-Food & Bio-Sciences Institute;
    Agreed: to forward the correspondence to DFP for a response. The Department’s response will be shared with the relevant statutory committee.
  • DFP: Dormant accounts update;
    Agreed: to schedule an evidence session with DFP on this issue.
  • DFP: Letter to the Committee on Rates Support, Rate Rebate and Welfare Reform;
  • DFP: Accountability Arrangements for Senior Civil Servants;
    Agreed: that a briefing paper will be prepared on the arrangements which exist in other jurisdictions, which will inform the Committee’s further consideration of this matter.  

5. Main Estimates 2012-13 and Budget (No. 2) Bill – Evidence Session with the Minister of Finance and Personnel

The Committee held an evidence session with Mr Sammy Wilson MP MLA, Minister of Finance and Personnel; Michael Brennan, Head of Central Expenditure Division, Central Finance Group (CFG); and Jeff McGuinness, Central Expenditure Division, CFG. The session was recorded by Hansard.

The Committee noted the following papers:

  • Press release and Ministerial correspondence;
  • DFP background paper, Budget Bill and explanatory and financial memorandum;
  • DFP correspondence following evidence session on 13 June;
  • List of follow-up questions submitted to DFP following evidence session on 13 June.

Members questioned the Minister and Departmental officials on the detail of the Budget (No.2) Bill and the Main Estimates. There was also discussion on the conduct of the consultation with the Committee. The Departmental officials undertook to provide members with follow-up information as requested.

Mr William Humphrey left the meeting at 10.57am

Mr William Humphrey returned to the meeting at 11.00am

Agreed: that the Committee is satisfied that there has been appropriate consultation with it on the public expenditure proposals contained in the Budget (No.2) Bill (NI) 2012 and is content to grant accelerated passage to the Bill in accordance with Standing Order 42 (2).

Agreed: that a letter would be sent to the Speaker reflecting the above decision.

Agreed: that, in future, a Ministerial briefing will be included the Committee’s work programme as part of the scheduled evidence on each budget bill.

Agreed: that a record of the communication between the Committee secretariat and the Departmental Assembly Liaison Officers on the previous delay in DFP providing papers to the Committee on the Estimates and Bill will be established for the next meeting of the Committee.

Agreed: that the research paper on scrutiny of the Estimates will be updated and circulated to other statutory committees for information. It was further agreed that the DFP briefing paper on the Estimates and Budget (No.2) Bill will be shared with other statutory committees.

6. Rate Collection and Rate Debt Targets 2012-13 – LPS Evidence Session

The Committee held an evidence session with the following witnesses: John Wilkinson, Chief Executive, Land and Property Service;    Patricia McAuley, Director of Revenue and Benefits, Land and Property Service and Judith Andrews, Head of Operational Finance, Land and Property Service. The session was recorded by Hansard.

The Committee noted a briefing paper from the Department on this issue. Members noted that this paper would be shared with the Public Accounts Committee as agreed at last week’s meeting.

Agreed: that the witnesses will provide additional information as requested.

Mr Paul Girvan left the meeting 11.24am

Mr Mitchel McLaughlin left the meeting at 11.29am

Mr Paul Girvan returned to the meeting at 11.31am

Mr Dominic Bradley left the meeting at 11.35am

Mr Mitchel McLaughlin returned to the meeting at 11.36am

Mr William Humphrey left the meeting at 11.42am

7. LCM – Local Government Finance Bill - Consideration of Draft Report

The Committee received a briefing from the following DFP officials: Brian McClure, Head of Rating Policy Division, CFG and Dr Veronica Holland, CFG. The session was recorded by Hansard.

Members noted correspondence from the Minister of Finance and Personnel and a letter from DFP on this issue.

The Committee considered a draft Report on the LCM on the Local Government Finance Bill.

Mr William Humphrey returned to the meeting at 11.45am

Mr William Humphrey left the meeting at 11.46am

Mr Paul Girvan left the meeting at 11.46am

Mr Dominic Bradley returned to the meeting at 11.48am

Mr Paul Maskey left the meeting at 11.50am

Mr Paul Maskey returned to the meeting at 11.56am

Mr Paul Girvan returned to the meeting at 12.01pm

Agreed:  that paragraphs 1 to 14 stand part of the report.

Agreed: that members will notify the Committee secretariat if they have any concerns following the Northern Ireland amendment to the Local Government Finance Bill being laid; and, subject to no issues being raised, the Committee Report, as agreed, will be circulated to all MLAs in advance of the plenary debate on the LCM.

8. Committee Work Programme

Members considered a draft of the Committee work programme.

Agreed: that the Committee meeting scheduled to take place on Wednesday 27 June 2012 is cancelled and the items of business moved to a future meeting.

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

9. Any Other Business

It was noted that this would be the Chairperson’s last meeting on the Committee. The Chairperson thanked the Committee secretariat for its work in servicing the Committee and thanked members for their work and support during his time as Committee Chairperson, including Mr Maskey who would also be leaving the Committee. Members, in turn, expressed thanks to the Chairperson and wished him well for the future.

10. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 4 July 2012 at 10.00am in Room 30, Parliament Buildings, Stormont.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.10pm

Mr Daithí McKay MLA
Chairperson, Committee for Finance and Personnel
4 July 2012

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