Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 14 March 2012

Venue: The Senate Chamber

2:00 pm The meeting opened in public session.

1.  Apologies

Apologies are listed above.

2. Minutes of the meeting on 7 March 2012

Agreed: The minutes of the last meeting were agreed. 

3. Matters Arising

Correspondence from an Anonymous Whistleblower

The Committee noted correspondence sent anonymously by a whistleblower highlighting concerns relating to authorisations for development at Our Lady and St Patrick’s School.

2:02 pm Mr Copeland declared an interest stating that he is a Councillor for Castlereagh Borough Council.

2:03 pm Mr Murphy entered the meeting.

2:05 pm Mr McQuillan entered the meeting.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to establish via the relevant Statutory Committee and C&AG certain details flagged up in relation to the correspondence.

Correspondence from a Whistleblower re CityBus

The Committee noted correspondence sent by a whistleblower highlighting concerns relating a delay to the payment of backdated pension payments following a ruling in September 2004.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed that it would not be appropriate to intervene on the issue in view of ongoing legal action, and to respond accordingly.

Correspondence from an Anonymous Whistleblower

The Committee noted correspondence sent anonymously by a whistleblower highlighting concerns relating to HR Connect, the Centre for Applied Learning and the recruitment of individuals.

Correspondence from the Northern Ireland Audit Office

The Committee noted a reply from Mr Kieran Donnelly, Comptroller and Auditor General, Northern Ireland Audit Office on a matter referred to him by the Committee relating to allegations of irregularities in a Senior Civil Service recruitment competition.

Correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel  

The Committee noted correspondence from the Clerk to the Committee for Finance and Personnel attaching a briefing from the Performance and Efficiency Delivery Unit regarding the monitoring and reporting arrangements for the Programme for Government 2011-15.

Correspondence from Save the Mid

The Committee noted correspondence from Mr Hugh McCloy, Chair, Save the Mid in response to the Committee’s recent report on the ‘Use of Locum Doctors by Northern Ireland Hospitals’.

2:17 pm Mr Easton declared an interest stating that he is the Assembly Private Secretary for the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to acknowledge Mr McCloy’s letter and refer the author to the relevant sections of the Committee’s report.

Correspondence from a Member of the Public

The Committee noted correspondence from a member of the public in response to the Committee’s recent report on the ‘Use of Locum Doctors by Northern Ireland Hospitals’.

2:20 pm Mr Easton declared an interest stating that he is the Assembly Private Secretary for the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to respond to the author of the letter thanking them for their interest in the Committee’s work.

2:21 pm The meeting went into closed session.

4. Issues Arising from the Oral Evidence Session on NIAO Report ‘Uptake of Benefits by Pensioners’

The Committee considered an issues paper relating to the previous week’s evidence session.

2:35 pm Mr Copeland left the meeting.

2:36 pm Mr Copeland entered the meeting.

2:37 pm Mr McQuillan left the meeting.

2:38 pm Mr McQuillan entered the meeting.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to proceed with the drafting of the report on the basis of the issues paper and its discussion.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to write to the Department to request further information.

5. Consideration of Draft Committee Report on ‘Use of External Consultants by NI Departments: Follow-up Report’

The Committee considered its report on ‘Use of External Consultants by NI Departments: Follow-up Report’.

Paragraphs 1 - 4 read and agreed.

Paragraph 5 read, amended and agreed.

Paragraphs 6 - 11 read and agreed.

Paragraph 12 read, amended and agreed.

Paragraph 13 read and agreed.

Paragraph 14 read, amended and agreed.

Paragraphs 15 – 16 read and agreed.

Paragraphs 17 - 18 read, amended and agreed.

Paragraphs 19 – 20 read and agreed.

Paragraphs 21 – 22 read, amended and agreed.

2:55 pm Mr Girvan entered the meeting.

Paragraphs 23 – 24 read and agreed.

Paragraphs 25 – 26 read, amended and agreed.

3:01 pm Mr Copeland and Mr Dallat left the meeting.

Paragraphs 27 – 28 read and agreed.

Paragraphs 29 – 30 read, amended and agreed.

3:04 pm Mr Copeland and Mr Dallat entered the meeting.

3:04 pm Mr Easton and Mr Girvan left the meeting.

Paragraphs 31 – 33 read and agreed.

Paragraph 34  read, amended and agreed.

Paragraph 35 read, and agreed.

Paragraph 36 read, amended and agreed.

Paragraphs 37 – 43 read and agreed.

3:09 pm Mr Hussey left the meeting.

3:11 pm Mr Anderson left the meeting.

Paragraph 44 read, amended and agreed.

Paragraphs 45 – 46 read and agreed.

Paragraph 47 read, amended and agreed.

3:16 pm Mr Anderson and Mr Hussey entered the meeting

Consideration of the Executive Summary

Agreed: The Committee agreed to reflect the amendments to the body of the report in the Executive Summary.

Agreed: The Committee agreed the correspondence to be included within the report.

Agreed: The Committee ordered the report to be printed.

6. Excess Votes

The Committee was briefed by the Comptroller and Auditor General on Excess Votes in 2010-11.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write seeking further information from DFP on the background to this.

3:26 pm Mr McQuillan left the meeting.

3:30 pm Mr McQuillan entered the meeting.

7. Committee’s Inquiry ‘Bioscience and Technology Institute’

The Committee noted correspondence from Mr David Sterling, Accounting Officer, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment provided additional information requested by the Committee.

3:50 pm Mr Easton entered the meeting.

3:56 pm Mr Hussey and Mr Murphy left the meeting.

8. Financial Audit Update Briefing

The Committee was briefed by Mr Kieran Donnelly, Comptroller and Auditor General on the main findings of his recent audit of Ilex’s accounts.

4:00 pm Mr Dallat left the meeting.

4:00 pm Mr Girvan entered the meeting.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to address the C&AG’s report on Ilex’s 2010-11 accounts at its evidence session on 25 April 2012.

9. Any other business

Bovine Tuberculosis

The Clerk outlined to the Committee that the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development planned to undertake a programme of work on some of the outstanding issues identified from the previous PAC report on ‘Control of Bovine Tuberculosis in Northern Ireland’.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed that the Clerk should provide a summary of its progress for the information of the DARD Committee.

10. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 at 2:00 pm in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 4:12 pm.

Mr Paul Maskey MP MLA
Chairperson, Public Accounts Committee
21 March 2012

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