Assembly Finance Committee Considers Government Underspend

Session: 2006/2007

Date: 20 June 2007

Reference: F&P 05/07

The Northern Ireland Assembly’s Statutory Committee for Finance and Personnel met today in Parliament Buildings. In a lengthy meeting, the Committee questioned DFP officials on their preparations for next year’s budget and, more strategically, on the underspend by all government departments for the 2006/07 financial year.

The Committee also took evidence from officials in the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency on their ‘health check review’ report carried out on Clare House, one of the pilot offices for the Workplace 2010 initiative. It also heard evidence from the Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) on their best practice approach to Private Finance Initiative projects, the lessons learned and the potential pitfalls and warning signs from previous experiences.

Speaking after the meeting Committee Chairperson, Mitchel McLaughlin, MLA, said:

“Members have been especially concerned with departmental underspend and this provided a further opportunity for members to seek explanations from officials in this area. We have also received a consultancy report on this issue which will be of interest to the Committee. ”

“Regarding Workplace 2010, the Committee heard evidence of some of the teething problems in the Clare House pilot and the experiences of the NIAO in examining major PFI projects was extremely valuable in informing the Committee’s considerations on this issue.”

ENDS

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The Committee for Finance and Personnel is one of 11 Statutory Committees of the Northern Ireland Assembly, which are set up to advise and assist each Northern Ireland Minister in the formulation of policy with respect to matters within his/her responsibilities as a Minister. Statutory Committees have powers as described in Strand One of the Belfast Agreement i.e. a scrutiny, policy development and consultation role with respect to the department with which each is associated, together with a role in the initiation of legislation.

As per paragraph 9 of Strand One of the Belfast Agreement, Statutory Committees have the power to:

  • Consider and advise on departmental budgets and annual plans in the context of the overall budget allocation;
  • Approve relevant secondary legislation and take the Committee stage of relevant primary legislation;
  • Call for persons and papers;
  • Initiate inquiries and make reports; and
  • Consider and advise on matters brought to the Committee by its minister.

The Committee for Finance and Personnel has eleven Members:
Mitchel McLaughlin (Chairperson) (Sinn Fein) 
Mervyn Storey (Deputy Chairperson) (DUP)
Roy Beggs (UUP)
Dr Stephen Farry ( Alliance)
Simon Hamilton (DUP)
Fra McCann (Sinn Fein)
Jennifer McCann (Sinn Fein) 
Adrian McQuillan (DUP) 
Declan O’Loan (SDLP)
Dawn Purvis (PUP)
Peter Weir (DUP)

Media enquiries should be addressed to:

Northern Ireland Assembly Information Office, Room B2, Parliament Buildings, Belfast BT4 3XX.

Telephone 028 9052 1137.

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