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

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 22 June 2011

Venue: Room 21

The meeting opened at 11.00am in public session.

1. Apologies.

There were no apologies.

Ms Ruane joined the meeting at 11.00am.

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

2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 15 June 2011

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

3. Matters Arising

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.

Devolution of Corporation Tax Powers

Members considered correspondence from the Committee for the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister (COFMDFM) requesting a copy of the Committee’s response to the HM Treasury consultation, Rebalancing the NI Economy.

Agreed: to copy the response to COFMDFM when agreed by the Committee

Members noted a press article on the Federation of Small Businesses’ views on lowering the rate of corporation tax.

The Committee noted that the Assembly Library is preparing an information pack for the plenary debate on the devolution of corporation tax powers, which is scheduled for Tuesday 28 June.

Agreed: to copy the DFP briefing paper for the evidence session on 15 June 2011 to all MLAs in advance of the plenary debate.

DFP: Press Release on Air Passenger Duty

The Committee noted a press release from the Minister of Finance and Personnel regarding his response to HM Treasury’s consultation on the reform of Air Passenger Duty.

DFP: Response regarding lines of accountability for senior civil servants

The Committee noted the response from DFP regarding lines of accountability for Permanent Secretaries and the Head of the Civil Service (HOCS).

Agreed: to discuss this matter in closed session at the Committee’s meeting on 29 June.

Agreed: to seek clarification from DFP on whether the response implies that lines of accountability ultimately come back to the Assembly; and on how decisions taken by the HOCS in relation to disciplinary action against Permanent Secretaries are explained and communicated to Ministers and the wider Assembly.

4. Review of Financial Process – Assembly Research Briefing

Members received a briefing from Assembly Research on the Executive’s Review of Financial Process.

Agreed: that Assembly Research will provide additional information as requested during the briefing.

Agreed: to forward the research paper to DFP, requesting that the recommendations are taken forward in parallel with the Executive’s Review of Financial Process, and for the Department to progress this with the Executive.

Agreed: to copy the Research paper to the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group (CLG) and the other relevant Assembly committees, explaining the Committee’s decision and advising that a briefing for all MLAs on public expenditure will be held in the autumn.

Mr Girvan left the meeting at 11.30am.

5. Outcome of June Monitoring Round – DFP Evidence Session

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

Mr Girvan returned to the meeting at 11.41am.
Mr Hussey left the meeting at 11.45am.
Mr Girvan left the meeting at 11.45am.
Mr Girvan returned to the meeting at 11.50am.
Mr Hilditch left the meeting at 11.54am.

6. Key NI Civil Service (NICS) Human Resource Issues - DFP Evidence Session

The Committee took evidence from the following DFP officials on the Senior Civil Service pay review and the NICS equal pay settlement: Derek Baker, Director of Personnel for the NICS, Corporate HR, DFP and Mark Bailey, Pay and Grading Review Team, Corporate HR, DFP.

The Committee noted correspondence from members of the public and from Mr Jim Wells MLA on equal pays issues.

Ms Ruane left the meeting at 11.56am.
Ms Ruane returned to the meeting at 11.59am.
Mr Bradley left the meeting at 12.14pm.
Mr Bradley returned to the meeting at 12.18pm.
Mr Hussey returned to the meeting at 12.21pm.
Mrs Cochrane left the meeting at 12.21pm.
Mr McLaughlin left the meeting at 12.30pm.
Mr McQuillan left the meeting at 12.30pm.
Mr Girvan left the meeting at 12.32pm.

Agreed: to invite the NI Public Service Alliance (NIPSA) to brief the Committee on residual equal pay issues at the earliest opportunity after the summer recess.

Agreed: to schedule an evidence session with DFP officials on NICS sickness absence and the NICS pay and grading review following the summer recess.

7. Correspondence

Members noted the following items of correspondence:

  • DFP: Response regarding Arm’s Length Bodies.

Agreed: to copy the correspondence to COFMDFM.

  • DFP: Response regarding End of Year Flexibility Replacement Mechanism.

Agreed: to copy the correspondence to all statutory committees for information.

  • DFP: Minister’s response regarding Committee’s Report on the Executive’s Draft Budget 2011-15.

Queen’s University Belfast: Invitation to Queen’s University Showcase Event.

  • Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland: Investing Activity Report June 2011.
  • The Irish Academy of Engineering: Cover Letter and Press Release regarding Report on the Cost Effective Delivery of Essential Infrastructure.

The Committee also noted the following routine correspondence which was e-mailed to members prior to the meeting:

  • The Charity Commission for NI Press Release: “Charity Commission launches campaigning guidance”
  • Advice NI: Welfare Cuts Research Survey; and
  • Equality Commission Newsletter, June 2011.
8. Draft Forward Work Programme

The Committee considered the draft work programme containing a schedule of business until summer recess.

Agreed: that the Work Programme is updated to reflect any decisions taken today and published on the Committee’s website.

9. Any Other Business
10. Date, time and place of next meeting.

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 29 June 2011 in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.39pm.

Conor Murphy MP MLA
Committee for Finance and Personnel.
29 June 2011 

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