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

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 08 February 2012

Venue: Room 30, Parliament Buildings

The meeting opened at 10.07am in public session
1. Apologies.

There was one apology as noted above.

Agreed: that Agenda items 5, 6 and 7 are recorded by Hansard and the Official Report published on the Assembly website.

2. Draft Minutes of Proceedings of 1 February 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

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.

Report on the Executive’s Review of the Financial Process

Members noted that the plenary debate on the Committee Report on the Response to the Executive’s Review of the Financial Process in NI is scheduled for Monday 13 February 2012. An embargoed copy of the printed Report will be provided to members in advance of the debate.

Outcomes-based Budgeting

Members noted correspondence from the Director of Financial Strategy in the Scottish Government on outcomes-based budgeting.

Agreed: to request that Assembly Research and Information Service examines applicable examples of outcomes-based budgeting from international experience.  

DFP Letter: Non-Domestic Revaluation

Members noted a response from DFP regarding non-domestic rates revaluation.

DFP Letter: Prompt Payment and NDPBs

Members noted a response from DFP regarding queries which the Committee has raised around the implications for monitoring prompt payment by non-departmental public bodies given the exclusion of such bodies from the Account NI system.

Agreed: to defer consideration of the DFP response on prompt payment and Account NI until a response is received from DFP in relation to the related issue of shared services.

Mrs Cochrane joined the meeting at 10.11am

4. Barnett Formula – Briefing by Assembly Research & Information Service

The Committee received a briefing from Assembly Research and Information Service.

Mr McQuillan joined the meeting at 10.19am

Mr Humphrey joined the meeting at 10.24am

5. Barnett Formula Evidence session with Expert Witnesses

The Committee took from the following expert witnesses: Mr Gerald Holtham, Professor Iain McLean and Mr Alan Trench.  The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

Mr McQuillan left the meeting at 10.44am

Mr McQuillan returned to the meeting at 10.54am

Mr Humphrey left the meeting at 11.01am

Mr McLaughlin left the meeting at 11.08am

Mr Girvan joined the meeting at 11.20am

Mr Humphrey returned to the meeting at 11.39am

Mr McLaughlin returned to the meeting at 11.40am

Agreed: to defer the decision on whether to undertake a Committee inquiry on the Barnett formula until the meeting on 15 February 2012.

6. Spring Supplementary Estimates, Budget Bill and the Review of Budget Allocations– DFP Evidence Session

Members took evidence from the following DFP officials on the Spring Supplementary Estimates and the Budget Bill 2012: Michael Brennan, Head of Central Expenditure Division; and Jeff McGuinness, Central Expenditure Division.  The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

Agreed: That the Committee for Finance and Personnel is satisfied that there has been appropriate consultation with it on the public expenditure proposals contained in the Budget Bill (NI)2012 and is content to grant accelerated passage to the Bill in accordance with Standing Order 42(2).

Agreed: to write to the Speaker advising of the Committee’s decision to grant accelerated passage to the Budget Bill 2012.

Mr Hussey left the meeting at 11.59am

The DFP officials also provided an update on the position in respect of the review of budget allocations for 2013-14 and 2014-15.

Mr Hussey returned to the meeting at 12.04pm

Mr Maskey left the meeting at 12.12pm

Mrs Cochrane left the meeting at 12.15pm

Agreed: to request that the Minister of Finance and Personnel presses the Executive to agree a course of action that will include appropriate consultation with the Assembly and committees on the review of budget allocations for 2013-14 and 2014-15. This will be important given that the Committee will require to decide on whether to grant accelerated passage on this basis to the associated budget bills in 2013-14 and 2014-15.

7. Proposed legislation: Vulnerable Witnesses; and Business Tenancies – DFP Evidence Session

Members took evidence from the following DFP officials: Oswyn Paulin, Head of Legal Services and Laura McPolin, Civil Law Reform, Departmental Solicitor’s Office.  The evidence session was recorded by Hansard.

8. Correspondence

Members considered the following items of correspondence:

  • DFP: Post Project Evaluation update;

Agreed: to forward the correspondence to the other statutory committees.

  • DFP: Response to the consultation on proposed changes to the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme NI;

Agreed: to request an oral evidence session from DFP officials on this issue.

  • Consumer Council: Response to Committee regarding payday loans;
  • Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister: Draft European Priorities;

Agreed: to write to DFP requesting an outline of its responsibilities in regards to the draft European priorities.

  • Employers for Childcare: Copy of correspondence sent to Central Procurement Directorate regarding Public Services (Social Value) Bill 2010-11;

Agreed: to commission research into the provisions in this Westminster Private Members Bill.

  • Proposed Ministerial amendments to the Rates (Amendment) Bill.

9. Committee Work Programme

Members considered a draft of the Committee work programme.

Visit to NI Direct

Agreed: that transportation will be arranged to and from the visit to NI Direct premises in Causeway Exchange on 29 February 2012, where the Committee will also hold its formal weekly meeting.

10. Any Other Business

11. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 15 February at 10.00am in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.30pm

Conor Murphy MP MLA
Committee for Finance and Personnel
15 February 2012

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