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

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 25 April 2012

Venue: Room 30, Parliament Buildings

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 Report published on the Assembly website.

The Committee noted that Mr Roy Beggs MLA had replaced Mr Ross Hussey MLA on the Committee. The Chairperson welcomed Mr Beggs to the meeting.  Members noted Mr Beggs’ declaration of interests.

2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 18 April 2012

The Committee noted that Mrs Cochrane had provided an apology in writing prior to last week’s meeting; however, this had not been received by staff in time for inclusion in the draft minutes.

Agreed: that the draft minutes are amended to record an apology for Mrs Cochrane.

Agreed: that the minutes, as amended, 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: Postponement of DFP Land Law Evidence Session

Members noted correspondence from DFP advising that the evidence session on land law, which had been scheduled to take place today, has been postponed by the Departmental Solicitor’s Office (DSO).

Agreed: to seek assurances from the Minister of Finance and Personnel that there will be no undue delay in bringing the associated Bill forward, which could result in reduced time for scrutiny at Committee Stage.

Members also noted a paper from DFP on the Department’s performance in meeting deadlines for responding to Committee requests, in particular the performance of DSO.

Agreed: to notify the Minister that the Committee does not consider the performance of DSO to be of an acceptable standard, and will expect to see improvements in the future.

Mr McLaughlin joined the meeting at 10.11am

4. Legislative Consent Motion: Air Passenger Duty (APD) – Evidence from the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland

The Committee took evidence from the following witnesses: Antoinette McKeown, Chief Executive, Consumer Council for NI; and Aodhan O’Donnell, Director of Policy, Consumer Council for NI.  The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

Mrs Cochrane joined the meeting at 10.14am.

Mr McQuillan joined the meeting at 10.21am.

Agreed: the witnesses will provide any additional information as requested during the evidence session.

5. Legislative Consent Motion: Air Passenger Duty – Evidence from the NI Chamber of Commerce and Federation of Small Businesses

The Committee took evidence from the following witnesses: Uel Hoey, Council member, NI Chamber of Commerce; and Roger Pollen, Head of External Affairs, Federation of Small Businesses. The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

Mr McQuillan left the meeting at 10.45am

Mr McQuillan returned to the meeting at 11.49am

Mr Girvan joined the meeting at 11.11am

Mr Hilditch left the meeting at 11.15am

Mr Hilditch returned to the meeting at 11.22am

Agreed: the witnesses will provide any additional information as requested during the evidence session.

Agreed: that DFP officials are notified that the Committee wishes to discuss a options/issues beyond the devolution of APD for direct long haul flights during the evidence session scheduled for 2 May 2012, including: if/how the Finance Bill could be amended to extend the devolved powers to Band A flights; what consideration has been given to a phased implementation of a reduction in APD for all flights; and clarification of whether there are any Barnett consequentials for NI arising from the high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham.

6. DFP Corporate Plan 2012-15/ Operational Plan 2012-13

The Committee considered a response from DFP regarding the Corporate Plan 2012-15 and Operational Plan 2012-13.

Agreed: to schedule an evidence session with Land and Property Service when its business targets have been confirmed. Members will raise issues relating to any other DFP directorate during a forthcoming evidence session with Departmental officials on 16 May 2012.

6. Correspondence

  • DFP: Waste management procurement process;
  • DFP: Law of Damages – consultation paper;
  • DFP: Forecast outturn data ;
  • Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety: ‘Protect Life’ Strategy;

Agreed: to forward the Correspondence to DFP as requested.

Mr Girvan left the meeting at 11.30am

Mr Girvan returned to the meeting at 11.33am

  • Correspondence from member of the public regarding equal pay;

Agreed: to seek a definitive answer to the points made in this correspondence during the evidence session with DFP officials, which has been scheduled for 23 May 2012. Staff will also prepare a paper summarising the issues raised and responses provided in previous evidence, in advance of the session with DFP officials.   

8. Committee Work Programme

Members considered a draft of the Committee work programme.

Development of North-South Shared Services

Members noted correspondence from Mrs Cochrane seeking an update on work being undertaken within DFP on North-South Shared Services.

Agreed: to request a written briefing from DFP on this issue in the first instance.

EU Funding

Members were advised that, on 12 April 2012, DFP had launched an informal consultation on the strategic direction that the Executive should set for the use of any future EU funding for which NI might qualify in 2014-2020.

Agreed: request an oral briefing on the outcome of the informal consultation after its completion.

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

10. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 2 May at 10.00am in Room 30, Parliament Buildings, Stormont.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 11.35am

Conor Murphy MP MLA
Committee for Finance and Personnel

2 May 2012

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