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

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 26 October 2011

Venue: Room 30

The meeting opened at 10.03am in public session.

1. Apologies.

Apologies are detailed above.

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

2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 19 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.

Mr David Hilditch left the meeting at 10.05am
Mr David Hilditch joined the meeting at 10.06am

4. DFP Business Plan: Performance against targets for 2010-11; and 2011-12 to date – DFP Briefing

Mr Mitchel McLaughlin joined the meeting at 10.25am

The Committee received a briefing from the following DFP officials: Stephen Peover, Permanent Secretary and Colm Doran, Head of Business Planning and Corporate Governance, Corporate Services Group.

Mr Ross Hussey declared an interest as a member of Omagh District Council.

Agreed: to write to DFP requesting further information on ratepayer debt, including with regard to ‘write-offs’, previous legal cases and vacant properties, in advance of an evidence session with Land and Property Services (LPS) on this subject. The Committee also requested that the Department reviews the Business Plan targets to ensure they are sufficiently challenging, whilst achievable, going forward.

5. Geographic Information Strategy for NI – Land and Property Service Evidence Session

Mr William Humphrey left the meeting at 11.00am
Mr William Humphrey joined the meeting at 11.03am

Members took evidence from the following DFP officials: Alan Bronte, Commissioner of Valuation, LPS and Trevor Steenson, Chief Survey officer, LPS. The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

Agreed: that Committee staff will draft terms of reference for a possible Committee inquiry into the use of Geographic Information.

6. Outcome of October Monitoring Round – DFP Briefing

Mr Dominic Bradley left the meeting at 11.35am

The Committee received a briefing from the following DFP officials: Michael Brennan, Head of Central Expenditure Division, Central Finance Group (CFG); Peter Jakobsen, Principal Economist, Central Expenditure Division, CFG and Brigitte Worth, Acting Finance Director, Finance Division, Corporate Services Group. The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

7. Vulnerable Witnesses in Civil Proceedings – DFP Briefing

Mr David Hilditch left the meeting at 11.44am
Mr Ross Hussey left the meeting at 11.47am
Mr Ross Hussey joined the meeting at 11.48am

Members received a briefing from the following DFP officials: Oswyn Paulin, Departmental Solicitor, Departmental Solicitors Office (DSO) and Laura McPolin, Departmental Solicitor, DSO.

Agreed: to request an explanation from the Department for the late arrival of the briefing paper. The Committee agreed to note the contents of the paper and to consider the matter further as the Department progresses work in this area.

8. Statutory Guidance on Forced Marriages – DFP Briefing

Mr Paul Maskey left the meeting at 12.11pm
Mr William Humphrey left the meeting 12.16pm
Ms Judith Cochrane joined the meeting at 12.25pm

Members received a briefing from the following DFP officials: Oswyn Paulin, Departmental Solicitor, DSO and Laura McPolin, Departmental Solicitor, DSO.

Agreed: to advise DSO that it is content with the draft guidelines and to note that a public consultation exercise will commence in the near future.

9. Subordinate Legislation

The Committee considered one proposal for subordinate legislation:

• SL1 – The Official Statistics Order (NI) 2011

Agreed: the Committee has considered DFP’s proposal for subordinate legislation under the The Official Statistics Order (NI) 2011, and has no objection to the policy implications of the proposed legislation at this stage

10. Correspondence

Members noted the following items of correspondence:

  • DFP: Evaluation of Rates Deferment Scheme;

Agreed: to note the contents of the paper and to agree a position at a later date and in light of the evaluation outcome.

  • DFP: Draft Recommendation on the rights and legal status of children and parental responsibilities;
  • CBI: Response to DFP consultation on the rating of commercial properties;
  • Chairpersons’ Liaison Group: Note of the key issues discussed and decisions taken;
  • DFP: Press release “Corporation Tax cut should be seen not as cost but investment”;

Agreed: to write to the Minister requesting that he proactively works with Executive colleagues to ensure that the case for devolving corporation tax powers does not lose momentum. In particular, that he encourages the joint ministerial working group to set an early date for its first meeting and to publish a programme of work, including a firm timetable for completion. It was also agreed to seek an undertaking that DFP will engage fully with the Committee throughout the process, including providing regular reports on progress.

  • DFP: Response from Minister on Equal Pay issues;

Agreed: that a secretariat paper is prepared, setting out the key issues to be addressed arising from the evidence received to date, for consideration at the next meeting.

  • DFP: Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme - Consultation on increases to employee contribution rates;
  • DFP List of respondents to Large Retail Levy consultation.
  • DFP response to Prompt Payment of Invoices.

Agreed: to forward DFP’s response to the other statutory committees for information.

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

  • Report for Policy Makers - Friends of the Earth

Mr Ross Hussey left the meeting at 12.42pm

12. Committee Work Programme

Members considered a draft of the Committee work programme.

Large Retail Levy

The Committee considered a secretariat paper outlining options on how to schedule evidence sessions on the Large Retail Levy and Small Business Rate Relief Scheme.

Agreed: to gather the evidence on the Large Retail Levy and Small Business Rate Relief Scheme on the basis of themed panels, each comprising up to four witnesses. The first panel will provide evidence on 9 November 2011 following a DFP briefing on the outcome of the related public consultation.

Meeting of 30 November

Agreed: that the meeting scheduled for 30 November will be moved to 29 November, given the possibility of industrial action across the public sector on 30 November.

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
14. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 9 November at 10.00am in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.54am.

Dominic Bradley MLA
Deputy Chairperson
Committee for Finance and Personnel.
9 November 2011 

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