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

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 23 November 2011

Venue: Room 30

The meeting opened at 10.04am in public session.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

Mr David Hilditch left the meeting at 10.05am

The Committee lost quorum at 10.05am

Mr David Hilditch joined the meeting at 10.07am

The Committee resumed at 10.07am

Mr William Humphrey joined the meeting at 10.07am

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 16 November 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

Agreed: to copy any responses received from other Assembly committees to DFP in advance of the Committee’s final response to the Executive’s Review of the Financial Process being agreed.

Large Retail Levy

Agreed: to request DFP to provide additional figures in relation to alternative approaches to calculating the Large Retail Levy. It was also agreed that, given that next week’s session with DFP officials will be the last opportunity for the Committee to gain clarification on issues before agreeing its position, the Committee staff will forward a list of outstanding issues or gaps identified from the evidence to DFP prior to the next meeting to be addressed during the evidence session.

4. Large Retail Levy and Small Business Rates Relief – ASDA, B&Q, IKEA, Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC)

Mr Adrian McQuillan joined the meeting at 10.13am

The Committee took evidence from the following witnesses: David Paterson, Head of Regional Affairs, ASDA; Diarmuid Walsh, Divisional Director, B&Q; Iain Joannides, Finance and Operations Manager, IKEA; and Jane Bevis, Director, NIRC. The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

Mr William Humphrey declared an interest as a member of Belfast City Council

Mr Dominic Bradley left the meeting at 11.01am
Mr Ross Hussey joined the meeting at 11.03am
Mr Dominic Bradley joined the meeting at 11.12am
Mr Paul Maskey joined the meeting at 11.14am

5. Large Retail Levy and Small Business Rates Relief – Evidence from CBI; Federation of Small Businesses NI; NI Hotels Federation and Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors

The Committee took evidence from the following witnesses: Roger Pollen, Head of External Affairs, Federation of Small Businesses; Nigel Smyth, Director, CBI and Chris Kenton, Head of Property Group NI, Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

Mr David Hilditch left the meeting at 11.30am
Mr Paul Girvan joined the meeting at 11.43am
Mr Mitchel McLaughlin left the meeting at 11.48am
Mr William Humphrey left the meeting at 12.01am

6. Funding for the UK’s Devolved Administrations – Assembly Research briefing

The Committee received a briefing from Assembly Research and Information Service on the funding arrangements for the UK’s Devolved Administrations, for the purpose of informing Terms of Reference for a potential inquiry.

Mr Ross Hussey left the meeting at 12.30pm

Agreed: that the Committee will invite a panel of expert witnesses to provide oral evidence on the issue of funding arrangements for the UK’s devolved administrations.

Agreed: that the Assembly Researcher will draft a list of themes for discussion, which will be issued to the panel in advance to ensure the evidence session is focused on the key issues.

Agreed: that the Assembly Researcher will investigate whether there are any recent papers by Lord Barnett which would also inform the Committee’s discussions.

The Committee also received a short briefing from Assembly Research and Information Service on the potential for a Strategic Budget Review Phase in the budget process.

Agreed:that the information provided will be taken into account in the Committee’s response to the Executive’s Review of the Financial Process.

7. Correspondence

Members noted the following items of correspondence:

  • NICS Disciplinary Procedures : correspondence from member of the public.
    Agreed: that the Committee will not take oral evidence from the member of the public who had raised this issue but will keep a watching brief on this matter and may consider any further issues of principle arising from judicial decisions.
  • NICS Equal Pay Settlement : correspondence from member of the public.
    Agreed: to request an update on Pay and Grading issues from DFP.
  • NICS Equal Pay Settlement: correspondence from member of the public requesting papers submitted to the Committee in respect of the NICS equal pay settlement.
    Agreed: that the Committee is content to release any unrestricted papers on this matter as requested.
  • Spring Supplementary Estimates (SSEs) : correspondence from DFP regarding the delay in the production of SSEs.
    Agreed : that DFP would be asked to provide an introductory briefing on the SSEs on 1 February 2012, including initial draft figures, and to return on 8 February to respond to any queries from members on the finalised SSEs. The DFP officials would also be requested to be available on Monday 13 February in the event that the Committee needed to hold a further special meeting to consider the Department’s usual request for accelerated passage of the Budget Bill.
  • Note from Chairpersons' Liaison Group .
  • Correspondence from the OFMDFM Committee regarding EU issues discussion forum
  • Outturn and Forecast Outturn Tables
  • DFP: Ministerial response regarding NI Law Commission ;
    Agreed: to request that DFP officials provide an oral briefing to the Committee on issues covered in the Minister’s response.
  • CBI Invite
    Agreed: that the Chairperson will confirm whether he will attend this event.
  • NICS Executive Officer II (EO2) Competition : Letter from Dolores Kelly MLA regarding an email from a constituent about the unfairness of the competition.
    Agreed: to request information from DFP on the current NICS EO2 competition, including how DFP ensured fairness in the testing process and how the identity of candidates taking the test was verified.

8. Committee Work Programme

Members considered a draft of the Committee work programme.

Programme for Government (PfG), Investment Strategy and Economic Strategy

Agreed: to write to DFP to request the following information:

  • a list of stakeholders who were consulted to inform the DFP input to PfG, the Investment Strategy and the Economic Strategy;
  • a summary of the issues raised as a result of the consultation and DFP’s response to these issues: and
  • that DFP officials attend the 11 January meeting to discuss the above issues.
January Monitoring Round

The Committee noted a letter from DFP regarding the approach to gathering departmental submission to the January monitoring round.

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

Agreed: to request an updated programme of legislation from DFP.

Agreed: that members are content with the proposal that the Committee uses “e-cards” for Christmas, to be sent to those organisations who have provided written and oral evidence during the year.

10. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Tuesday 29 November at 10.00am in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.36am.

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

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