Comisiwn y Cynulliad
Minutes of 8 July 2010 meeting
Date: 8 July 2010
Venue:Conference room 4B
Minutes of 8 July 2010 meeting
Lorraine Barrett AM (Labour)
Peter Black AM (Liberal Democrats)
Chris Franks AM (Plaid Cymru)
William Graham AM (Conservatives)
Claire Clancy, Chief Executive and Clerk
Dianne Bevan, Chief Operating Officer
Keith Bush, Director of Legal Services
Adrian Crompton, Director of Assembly Business
Ian Summers, Head of Corporate Unit
Nicola Callow, Head of Finance – item 2
Helen Finlayson, Secretariat
Declarations of interest
There were no declarations of interest.
Minutes of meeting – 19 May 2010
The minutes were formally agreed.
Matters arising from the meeting on 19 May 2010
There were no matters arising.
2. Budget Strategy 2011-12
Claire Clancy introduced paper two, noting that the approach required long term planning to make necessary savings in future years. The Commission were advised that the level of savings would result in significant changes to services over the next four years.
Commissioners agreed strongly that costs must be reduced and that the reductions in the Welsh block must be matched. The Commission noted that its actions must reflect that the current financial circumstances are abnormal.
The Commission agreed to adopt a Budget Strategy which will reflect changes in the Welsh block in 2011-12, subject to the clarifications below, to maintain the same approach throughout the Fourth Assembly and, subject to the details in the Comprehensive Spending Review to be reported in the autumn, to proceed with planning assumptions of a 5 per cent reduction from the 2010-11 budget level for 2011-12. Budget levels thereafter will be informed by the size of the Welsh block, but planning assumptions were agreed at achieving cumulative reductions of 23 per cent by the end of 2014-15.
The following clarifications were agreed:
car park charging and ending of subsidies agreed by majority. Commissioners requested further details on implementation of the changes and asked that consideration be given to differential charging for car parking. Where possible, changes to be introduced from 1 October 2010, particularly pricing for catering;
officials to estimate the full costs of the 2011 election changes and include them in our budget. These amounts will be ring-fenced and any unused funds will be returned as early as possible in the year;
the budget available to fund the decisions made by the Remuneration Board should be contained in a separate ambit and should be subject to the same reductions as the Assembly services budget ambit. Officials should provide the Board with indicative figures to work within (a funding envelope);
the Assembly’s core business is legislation and activity to support legislation must therefore be protected. Commissioners commented on arrangements for non-legislation committees and requested proposals for changes to structures, practices and staffing; and
the Commission should work within the timetable set out in Standing Orders, although the Commission’s decisions should be communicated to Members and made public as soon as possible.
3. Strategic Plan 2010
Claire Clancy introduced paper three, noting that the Strategic Plan detailed the way in which the Commission’s five Strategic Goals would be pursued in 2010-11 within the current economic and financial contexts.
The Commission noted the Strategic Plan for 2010.
4. Dissolution of the Assembly
Dianne Bevan introduced paper four, noting that the dissolution in 2011 would be the first for the Assembly. Keith Bush outlined the legal principle of dissolution, introduced by the Government of Wales Act 2006, which meant that all Members would cease to be Members from the point of dissolution (rather than continuing to be Members up until the election as under the 1998 Act). This rule, introduced in order to ensure a level playing field for all candidates, imposed strict legal restrictions on the Commission’s ability to provide facilities for former Members after dissolution.
The Commission agreed that current Members would be able to use Assembly resources to conclude casework that was in progress at the point of dissolution, but not for new casework that arose during the period of dissolution. New casework would need to be taken by former Members on the same basis as other election candidates. Commissioners asked that the detailed arrangements for dealing with casework, including Data Protection responsibilities, should be spelled out clearly. The Commission registered their concerns about Assembly Members who have no separate constituency offices, but agreed in principle that security access to non-public areas of the Assembly estate of current Members who were standing for re-election (‘candidates’) would be suspended from the point of dissolution, and that candidates would not have access to defined Assembly services and facilities during dissolution. The Commission agreed that facilities would be provided to enable Office Holders to undertake their duties effectively during dissolution. Again they asked for clear information on the provision of these facilities. They agreed that changes would be made to the Determination to reflect the provisions of the Government of Wales Act 2006 in relation to Office Holders’ salaries and year-end arrangements.
The Commission agreed to defer decisions on funding for Support Staff of Members who were standing down, accommodation for party group and Support Staff during dissolution and ICT arrangements, particularly use of equipment and emails, until its September meeting to allow for further consideration.
5. Host Broadcasting Contract
Dianne Bevan introduced paper five, noting in particular the legal advice to the Commission with regard to the treatment of creditors.
The Commission noted the information provided and agreed that the Chief Executive should seek an internal audit examination to identify any lessons that could be learned.
The Commission thanked staff for ensuring a smooth transition to the new Host Broadcasting arrangements.
6. Annual Report and Accounts
Claire Clancy introduced paper six, noting that the Assembly Commission Audit Committee had approved the Statement of Accounts and recommended that she should sign the accounts as Accounting Officer.
The Commission approved the Annual Report and Accounts 2009-10, and agreed a publication date of 15 July 2010.
7. Management Board Report to the Commission
Claire Clancy introduced paper seven, noting that the rollout of the UNO project was planned to take place over the summer for Assembly staff, and in September/October for Members and their staff.
Claire Clancy noted that recruitment was underway for the position of Standards Commissioner and for the Remuneration Board (subject to Royal Approval of the National Assembly for Wales (Remuneration) Measure 2010).
8. Matters to note
The Commission noted the Welsh Language Scheme Compliance Report 2009-10 and the report on Assembly Staff Pay 2010-12.