June 24, 2009          HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY MANAGEMENT COMMISSION          No. 18


The Commission met at 9:00 a.m. in the House of Assembly.

MR. SPEAKER (Fitzgerald): Good morning.

I want to welcome members and staff of the House of Assembly to a regular meeting of the House of Assembly Management Commission.

We will start as we do each meeting, by having members present and staff present, introduce themselves.

I will start to my immediate left with the Deputy Speaker.

MR. T. OSBORNE: Tom Osborne, St. John’s South.

MR. KENNEDY: Jerome Kennedy, Carbonear-Harbour Grace.

MS BURKE: Joan Burke, St. George’s-Stephenville East, and Government House Leader.

MS E. MARSHALL: Beth Marshall, Topsail.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Kelvin Parsons, Burgeo & LaPoile, Opposition House Leader.

CLERK: Bill Mackenzie, Clerk of the House.

MS LAMBE: Marlene Lambe, Chief Financial Officer.

MR. SPEAKER: My name is Roger Fitzgerald, and by virtue of being the Speaker, I am the Chair of the Commission, Member for Bonavista South.

We started this morning with an in camera meeting, where we discussed another couple of topics, to which I will refer now. We will announce the decision on one of the topics that we discussed at this time, and later in the meeting, the other item that was on the in camera session will be debated.

One of the items that we discussed was the appointment of a retired justice in order to respond to a resolution that was passed by the House of Assembly to allow Fraser March, the former Citizens’ Representative, the right to be heard. There was a resolution passed at that time and the Commission was asked to appoint a retired justice to allow this process to take place. At the in camera session it was recommended that we appoint Justice O’Neill to carry out the resolution that was passed by the House of Assembly. The Clerk will proceed to ask Justice O’Neill to be the retired justice to allow Fraser March the opportunity to bring his case forward.

The other business on the in camera session was to deal with automobile insurance, which affected me, as Speaker, the Leader of the Official Opposition and the Leader of the Third Party. That will be discussed later at this meeting. I will do, at that time, what I did in the in camera session, excuse myself since it includes me.

We will proceed with the agenda as written. The first item would be the Speaker’s opening remarks. I just wanted to ask, and this has not been a problem by the way, but sometimes we get down to the wire in being able to get quorum for a meeting. I just want to remind all members that we should make contact with the Clerk and not the Speaker if there is a problem with a member attending, because the Clerk’s office is the contact people for arranging the agenda, for setting the time of the agenda, or at least responding to the time that we suggest might be a proper time to meet. When you contact me instead of the Clerk, it causes a little bit more confusion sometimes.

The Clerk’s office is the right office to contact if members are not available to attend Commission meetings. Also, to advise members to make contact with the Clerk’s office as soon as they find out they are unable to attend so that we can reschedule the meeting. Because we have a time frame, if we do not cancel we have to pay for broadcast time, and broadcast time is something like $575 an hour. If we cannot reschedule and provide a date for rescheduling then we have to pay for that time. It has not happened, but we have come pretty close.

The other thing is travel of members from outside the St. John’s area, members have to travel sometimes great distances, even from Labrador, and if members do not know a couple of days in advance then we also have to be responsible for that travel time with members coming in to attend meetings. So this is just a friendly reminder to ask members to let the Clerk’s office know as soon as they can if they are unavailable to attend meetings.

The next item would be the approval of minutes from the May 6 and May 13 meetings. Members have had an opportunity to read the Commission minutes of May 6 and May 13 then it is in order to move adoption of the minutes. If there are no errors or omissions would somebody move that the minutes be adopted as written?

Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: (Inaudible) the last page of the minutes for, I think it was the May 13 meeting. We are talking about the advertising policy for the members of the House. I have talked to some members since the last meeting and some members do have flyers printed for their districts. A couple of the non-allowable items, the statements of a partisan nature and references to programs within a department, government agency or commission, I am sure that some of the flyers are most likely referencing some of the programs that are within departments, government agencies and commissions. So I just want to make sure that we are conscious of the fact that people are putting out these flyers and that if they put them out they cannot refer to government programs and they cannot make statements of a partisan nature. Was that our intent?

MR. SPEAKER: My understanding, there was a discussion and a debate that took place and those were the recommendations of non-allowable to be included in the payment of constituency allowance, but the Clerk is indicating that he may have further explanation.

The Clerk.

CLERK: Yes, these really only apply to paid advertising. So these would not apply to householders, newsletters and those sorts of things. That would be a separate matter. This is just simply paid advertising.

MS E. MARSHALL: So the flyers are not considered advertising?

CLERK: We do not do that advertising, that is a separate matter, but the partisan nature, while that is hard to define, that really applies to all members’ expenses under the members’ rules. It is hard to define but that would apply to all of them, including newsletters and householders.

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes. What did we mean by the statement: The Commission approved the adoption of policy for all existing advertising contracts effective as of the expiry date and for all new advertising as of June 1, 2009?

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: Some members have ongoing commitments to local papers. Like, they might have a three month contract to put it in every week, and that might not expire until July or August or something, so it is simply to allow them to get through whatever contract they currently have with whatever form of advertising they have had.

MS E. MARSHALL: Okay.

CLERK: If that does not apply then it would be June 1 for all the rest.

MS E. MARSHALL: Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

Did that answer your question, Ms Marshall?

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Parsons.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: I appreciate the question from Ms Marshall. In fact, is that the understanding of all of the Commission members, that it is okay to reference a program? I ask that specifically because I have a householder printed, ready to go, that does, in fact, refer constituents to the old rebate program, for example, and where to get forms for different things.

I would not want to have that go out in error, so I would just like confirmation that it is okay to reference that, because that is assistance to constituents; that is not of a political nature.

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: For householders, newsletters, that would be fine. The issue here is more if you have a member doing constituency business, why would that member pay money to advertise a departmental program? If the department needs its program advertised, the department should spend the money, or the minister should spend the money, and so on. So the member, as a member, should not be incurring cost to do that, but informing constituents about a program through a newsletter or correspondence, there is no issue with that.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Should we deal with it? Because the wording in this right here does say references to programs within the department. I guess if we accept your interpretation that a householder is not paid advertising we are okay.

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: The policy simply dealt with the paid advertising, so we never considered newsletters and householders to be part of that. I do not know, Ms Lambe, if there is any clarity. I do not think we have ever had any confusion on the two.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: No, I think the policy is quite explicit of the types of advertising that are covered, and it would not include householders. It is just paid ads in newspapers; it talks about ads on television or ads in brochures in the community. There is a list of items to be covered under the advertising, and householders or newsletters or any correspondence with people in the district is not covered, and it was not our intent to cover it there.

I did see your newsletter and it was fine; there was not anything there that we would consider of a political nature anyway. We do look at the householders for items of a political nature, if you are asking for donations for your party or if you are promoting the party at all. When we look at householders that is how we look at them.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: If there was advertising or comments that you would make in a brochure for a conference or something that could be related, say, to housing, and you might talk about the Home Heating Rebate or the Affordable Housing Program, or it might be on supported employment or people with disabilities, would you be able then to make some comment about the program or the services that the conference is about?

MS LAMBE: We would only look at the householders for anything of a political nature.

MS BURKE: I am not talking about the householders. I am talking about if you give greetings, say, to a housing conference that is coming up and you talk about the fact that we have funds under the Affordable Housing Program, or if it is something with people with disabilities and we are talking about our Supported Employment Program or something in that comment that we put in the brochure, is that acceptable?

MS LAMBE: Normally, the advertising in the brochures or in the newspapers is a business side ad, and the new advertising policy recommends that they should be restricted to those types of ads to provide contact information. It does talk about words of congratulation and welcome and that, but it normally would not include any discussion on issues that are before the public at any period in time.

MS BURKE: I am not even talking about discussion. I am talking about just even to say if you are putting a page, say, in a booklet for the conference and it is on a particular topic that is relevant to some of the programs or services that are offered within government.

MS LAMBE: I would not see a problem if you are making a reference to it basically to let people know that this exists or whatever.

MS BURKE: Okay, but when I look to this I would question that. I could see somebody saying that we cannot pay for that ad that you thought you were able to pay for because you mentioned this, and any references to programs within a department, government agency or commission, is not allowable.

MS LAMBE: The ads in the newspapers or in the brochures are really meant to provide contact information only, or certain types of welcome or congratulations. If it was something that was somehow connected to some sort of event, I could see a reference to it. Otherwise, there normally would not be a reference. It is my experience in the ads that we have now, that type of reference we would normally see anyway.

MS BURKE: No, and I am not talking about the normal ad that you would see in the paper. I am talking about, sometimes you may put something in a booklet, or something for a conference or something, and in that case it is on a particular topic, and you may make a comment or give a couple of paragraphs.

MS LAMBE: The acceptable brochures should be within the district, and would normally be triggered to a garden party or Come Home Year or something within the district, so it really would not be discussing some sort of government program.

MS BURKE: Lots of times we are asked – it could be something, say, an Aboriginal conference, which would have provincial context to it but it could be going on in your district. It could be some kind of a provincial or national forum that is going on within your district and they are asking for this.

Sometimes you may provide that note to welcome people and that, but, because there are applicable programs within government, or the way government is moving a certain agenda, that you would naturally comment in your commentary there.

I guess my question is: Does this preclude all of that, so that nothing like that can ever be mentioned again? Because if we do, when we send in the bill, you are going to get a copy of it and say no.

MS LAMBE: I would think not, that it should not be approved; that, if there is some comment or reference to the program itself, this section of the advertising policy would say that it is not acceptable.

MR. SPEAKER: Further comments or clarification?

MS BURKE: Can we have that deleted?

MR. SPEAKER: You are suggesting that we delete references to programs within a department, government agency or commission?

Make the motion. I guess a motion can be entertained to have anything deleted with the will of the Commission.

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: I will make a motion that in the minutes, that we remove references to programs within a department, government agency or commission, when we are talking about non-allowable expenses in advertising.

MR. SPEAKER: Can somebody second it?

MS E. MARSHALL: I will second that.

MR. SPEAKER: Seconded by Ms Marshall.

Further comments or suggestions?

If not, all those in favour of deleting that particular reference under the non-allowable expenses, signify.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: Those who are against?

The motion is carried.

Is there any other commentary from the minutes of May 6 and May 13?

If not, a motion is in order to adopt the minutes of May 6 and May 13, with the deletion as outlined by Ms Burke, for reference in section 5.3 of the advertising policy with the words, "references to programs within a department, government agency or commission" taken from the non-allowable expenses.

Does somebody want to make that a motion?

The motion is moved by Ms Burke, seconded by Ms Marshall.

All those in favour, ‘aye’.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.

The minutes are carried.

On motion, minutes adopted as circulated.

MR. SPEAKER: The next item on the agenda, again, is approval for travel under special circumstances. Specifically, section 43 of the rules, where the Member for Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair had to charter from St. Anthony to Forteau on two different occasions. It is outlined in the details there. The member chartered a flight to Forteau to attend a graduation as there were no direct flights available to her that day. The other one is the member chartered a flight to Forteau to attend a graduation as there were no direct flights available to her on that particular day. One was for May 8 and the other for May 29. Those are for reporting purposes only.

There are also some outstanding Commission minutes. The Commission was directed by the Clerk to prepare a discussion paper as it relates to members, the estimated cost of increasing the number of trips to and from the capital region when the House of Assembly is not in session.

Also, the Clerk was instructed to survey members on the adequacy of separate expense items in late 2008 in order to carry out their responsibilities. Now that we have appointed the Members’ Compensation Review Committee, this was a piece of work that was identified by Chief Justice Green that the Members’ Compensation Review Committee were to review and respond to those particular two commission minutes which are outstanding. We are suggesting that they now be passed forward to the Members’ Compensation Review Committee. Any comments or commentary on those two particular items?

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: On the second item it says: "Members were surveyed on the adequacy of each separate expense item in late 2008; however, the results were never compiled or analyzed. The survey responses will be provided to the Members’ Compensation Review Committee."

How many people responded to the survey?

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: I will defer to Ms Lambe, she may remember. I do not know if we have the precise number.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms. Lambe.

MS. LAMBE: I cannot recall, to be honest, it is so long ago. We did not get a great response, I do recall that. If I had to guess, and I could be wrong, I would say somewhere around fifteen or so.

MS BURKE: My comment on that is, basically I would prefer that the results be compiled and analyzed by the staff at the House because it will be a significant cost for us to engage our review committee to do that work, and that was work undertaken by the House. I would like to see that work and the analysis passed over to the review committee as opposed to the survey itself that they did not design or administer and then be left to analyze it.

I think that the analysis, as opposed to the survey, is just handed over. It should be done by the House.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

The Clerk.

CLERK: In using that terminology we might have misled you. The reason we did not get it done was lack of resources to conduct the analysis and to do the follow-up questions. That is why it has been sitting since November, whenever it was, last fall.

As this Members’ Compensation Review Committee does its surveys of members, focus groups, whatever sort of mechanisms it is going to do, we may find that this whole survey would not be needed. They would be finding the same information and listing the same information for members through whatever means they undertake. We can have a look at it and we could perhaps compile the sort of raw data, but with such a small response, if it was fifteen out of forty-eight, it is a very small response rate. They may find that, through whatever means they use, they are achieving the same or better end.

MS BURKE: But to just hand it over to them and ask them to do the analysis -

CLERK: Yes.

MS BURKE: If I was on that Commission I would do the analysis regardless of the numbers and at a far greater cost to us than if the staff, who should have had it done by this point, had it done.

My only comment is if you are going to use it and send it over, just send over the analysis and have the results compiled. Just do not send that over. They did not design it, they did not administer it, and then to expect them at a far greater cost to analyze that for us, I think it is not appropriate.

CLERK: Sure, yes.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary on the two outstanding Commission minutes?

Thank you.

The next item is a report from the Centre for Innovative Dispute Resolution. I have not been involved in this one because it concerns me. I will ask the Clerk to make commentary and members can ask questions or provide commentary, whatever, or just have it reported to the Commission.

I will pass it to the Clerk.

CLERK: Yes, there was no particular decision that the Commission was facing with this report. This was the report conducted by the Centre for Innovative Dispute Resolution. It was in the public airways as a media story so we thought we would just include the report here.

I should say, late yesterday, perhaps 4:00 in the afternoon or so, all Commission members received a letter from Ms Neville’s solicitor. I think it also included a submission that Ms Neville and her solicitor had made to Mr. Thistle in doing this. We really have not had time to look at that yet. It was just hand delivered 4:00 o’clock or so yesterday. So I am not sure really if it is something we are in a position to discuss now or not until we have read that most recent letter, but all the Commission members received the letter as well late yesterday. I do not know if they have all had a chance to read it or not. We could ask their thoughts on it.

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Kennedy.

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, I know how we are planning to deal with this.

When do we expect to be meeting again, because I do have certain comments about this report at some point? Is there any idea when we will be meeting again?

MR. SPEAKER: Well, usually it is difficult – if we need to meet, certainly we can meet, but normally we try to include the business that needs to be dealt with so that we do not have to meet for July and August, but if there is a need for a meeting, then we can certainly try to arrange a meeting in either one of those months, or Mr. Kennedy, if you want to, you can certainly provide (inaudible).

MR. KENNEDY: Okay, I will just let the other members speak and then I think I am going to make a couple of comments, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Sure, and if this is going to get into a debate or get into commentary, maybe I should just move aside and let the Deputy Speaker take the Chair for the remainder of this discussion because I do not want to appear to taint anything that has been done or said up until now.

So I will just sit aside and ask the Deputy Speaker to assume my Chair until this particular part of the debate is concluded.

MR. KENNEDY: Certainly.

DEPUTY SPEAKER (Osborne): Okay, any comments on the report before us?

Elizabeth Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes, Mr. Chair, the report speaks for itself. The findings are there from Mr. Thistle, who carried out the review, I believe, for Ms Lambe, but we did receive correspondence yesterday from Ms Neville’s solicitor.

While I have looked at it briefly, I have not had an opportunity to go through it in detail. So I cannot provide any commentary on the correspondence that was received yesterday. I would like to have more time to review that and reflect on what is in that documentation.

DEPUTY SPEAKER: Any other comments?

Jerome Kennedy.

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

I think it is important, and one of the reasons I asked when we are going to be meeting again. I am particularly bothered by some of the allegations that were made in this report by the Child and Youth Advocate. It causes me concern, and I am going to have an opportunity to review the correspondence sent, although I do not know that it will add a whole lot.

Mr. Speaker, when I see comments, for example, and I am referring now to the decision, page 9 of that decision: I was hired to advocate for society’s most vulnerable, the children of this Province. I take this obligation seriously. Unfortunately, due to the action of the Speaker, important investigations underway stand to be derailed.

I see no basis, based on what I have seen, Mr. Speaker, for that kind of comment. In fact, I remember over a year ago we provided subpoena powers to the Child and Youth Advocate, at her request, to deal with certain matters. I do not know where those matters are now. Essentially we are now, I think, fourteen or fifteen months after we provided subpoena powers, so I do not know how - I think that comment is objectionable, and one that I disagree with.

Then, Mr. Speaker, there was a comment in here, an implication that someone was trying to interfere with the investigations. Again, I have grave difficulty with this.

As a government, Minister Burke has recently been put in charge of the Child, Youth and Family Services Department and we are doing everything we can to address these situations.

I am just going to make my opinion on the record that certain comments are outlined in here which I take grave exception to, and I really thing it is unfortunate that these kinds of allegations be made. The matter has been dealt with, and he certainly will have an opportunity to review the documentation that has been provided.

Those would be my initial comments, Mr. Speaker.

DEPUTY SPEAKER: Any other comments?

Kelvin Parsons.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I do not know if I misunderstood the process here, but my understanding was, when this issue first arose, we engaged legal counsel, Mr. Greg Smith, who gave us an opinion vis-à-vis this issue, and Ms Neville had her solicitor, Mr. Coffey. I understood that they jointly agreed, the two legal counsels, the one for Ms Neville and the one for the Commission, and we agreed, everybody agreed, that the matter would be referred to the Centre for Innovative Dispute Resolution, and Mr. Thistle of that institution was selected to deal with the issue. That is the report that is here now and has been the subject of public commentary in the last couple of weeks.

I had assumed, I guess incorrectly, that was the end of it at that point, that the parties had agreed to the process - for example, Mr. Thistle, and here was his decision - only to find out yesterday, when Mr. Coffey delivered this correspondence - and I say this based upon his last sentence, he said: I trust that the Management Commission will take the within comments into consideration in its deliberations as to how this entire matter is to be dealt with.

That somewhat threw me because I was under the impression that the process - for example, Mr. Thistle - had been agreed to by all parties and that was the end of it from a deliberation point of view. Yet, now, I get this comment from Mr. Coffey which sort of implies that he thinks we are still going to have some further deliberations on this issue.

I would certainly like an opportunity to, number one, read in greater detail and reflect upon what it is he did say in his correspondence of yesterday and, secondly, maybe either from Mr. Coffey or Mr. Smith, a confirmation that was what the agreed process was. Do they feel or do we feel that there is any further deliberation or role for us in this matter?

I would like some clarification and direction on that, because my understanding was that we did what the parties agreed to and that we would not be dealing with it any more once Mr. Thistle rendered his report.

Obviously, I understand and accept and respect Ms Neville’s decision. If she decides she is not satisfied with Mr. Thistle’s report and she wants to do something else, that is fine, that is her right to do that, but from a Commission perspective I thought we had followed the agreed process and that there would be no further consideration by us.

DEPUTY SPEAKER: Any other comments on this particular issue?

Okay, I think the recommendation by the Clerk, considering the fact that we only received the letter late yesterday afternoon, I have not yet had an opportunity to read that letter, so I think we are going to postpone further discussion on this.

The report of the investigator is now made public and available to the general public. At the next meeting of the Commission, upon having read the correspondence from Bernard Coffey, we will discuss this issue further.

Is that the consensus of the Commission?

MR. KENNEDY: To that point, a further comment, Mr. Speaker.

That comment that I found particularly offensive, I just want to read it again and place my disagreement on the record. On page 7, this is the Child and Youth Advocate writing the Management Commission, "I also referenced my deep concern about the timing and motivation of such an intervention, as everyone is well aware that I am in the middle of several very volatile investigations, the resistance to which has been substantial."

One, Mr. Speaker, the resistance has not come from anyone that I am aware of, in terms of from a government perspective or anything to do with the Speaker or with this Management Commission. The deep concern with the timing and motivation of such an intervention, again I find no basis anywhere to justify that kind of allegation.

I simply want to express my concern about allegations like that being made, and to simply say that from my perspective it is totally incorrect.

DEPUTY SPEAKER: Any other comments from any members of the Commission?

Is the decision, then, to postpone further discussion on this issue until all parties have had an opportunity to read the correspondence from Bernard Coffey?

Can we have a motion from somebody to that regard?

Moved by Elizabeth Marshall.

Is anybody seconding?

Seconded by Kelvin Parsons.

I await the return of the Speaker for resumption of business.

MR. SPEAKER (Fitzgerald): The next item on the agenda is recreating the financial information statements from 1999-2000 and 2000-2001.

There have been a number of meetings at which this particular item has been brought forward and I will again ask for further commentary, if further commentary is needed before we ask for the Commission direction.

For information, I think the last time that it was brought forward Mr. Kennedy wanted an opportunity to make himself familiar with the correspondence that had come from the Auditor General and from other members of the Commission, and to become aware of exactly what is being asked for here and what the recommendations have been upon until this time.

If there are questions to be asked, or further commentary to be made, then we will entertain the same now before we ask for a motion. Commentary?

Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, I think I am going to repeat exactly the same thing that I said in a previous meeting, but this issue is a very difficult issue and we have been struggling with it for the last little while, as to what direction we should go in, but what we are trying to do is we are trying to balance the recommendation of Green. We have been, I think we are almost treating the Green report as our bible and we are trying to implement all of his recommendations.

We are trying to balance this recommendation knowing that what he is recommending is going to be a very difficult task and might even prove to be an impossible task, but I still think that, given our track record, that we have been implementing almost all, if not all of the recommendations of Green, that we should push forward on this and really bring it to what I would consider, I guess, the end. I would think - and the Clerk could probably respond to this or the Chief Financial Officer. They have provided estimates of how long it would take to go back and reconstruct these documents for those two years. If the Commission decided to carry on, to bring this to an end, I am thinking that the next step would be to issue an RFP so that we would get responses from people who would be able to go back and reconstruct these records.

I would like for the Clerk or the CFO to address that issue. Would that be our next step if we still want to proceed, to see if we can get this done?

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: Yes, I think it ultimately would be an RFP process. We probably would have to do some additional work. At the beginning of this note, the very first page of the note, you will see the second bullet: Developing an accurate estimate of the cost is a project in itself. So we have put a few hours of work in trying to come up with these various estimates. We probably would have to get something more detailed to actually put an RFP. I do not know if we even - we would probably have to have further discussions with the Comptroller General and the Auditor General before you could detail what you are actually asking the firms to do when you put out the RFP.

I do not, Ms Lambe, if you have some thoughts on what would be needed to undertake it?

MR. SPEAKER: Commentary, Ms Lambe?

MS LAMBE: No, I do not think there is much I can add, but I do agree. I think there is still quite a bit of work that would have to be done before we could get to the RFP stage in getting a more detailed understanding of exactly what is involved. We want to be sure, I guess, when we go out that it is quite clear to the respondents exactly what they should be doing. Of course, the other thing is the special warrant process in order to get the funding in order to carry out the work also.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: Would the Clerk or Chief Financial Officer have any further commentary on the worthiness of going to that stage?

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: I am being a bit flippant, but we have been on the record, I think, that we do not think it is worth this sort of cost, whatever it is. I think the estimate here was $600,000, whether that is valid or not.

The other issue that arises here is we can try to recreate this information or these statements, depending on which term you use for them, so we get a firm and spend whatever to get that done. It is still not clear what the auditor might say when he reviews it. So there are two parts to it. You can recreate statements but then you have to find an auditor willing to give an opinion. If I am the one who has to give the management letter of representation with these statements, I do not know if I will be able to do that, all of which is to say we could have statements or information for those years done. I do not think it is absolutely clear that there will be an audit decision or anything of much value coming from the auditor.

You, Ms Marshall, would know better than I. I do not know what you, as an auditor, would feel if you were presented with the results of this recreation. I guess you really do not know until you see it whether you could give an opinion.

MS E. MARSHALL: That is right, yes.

I would expect, thinking ahead, that it will not be an unqualified opinion. I would think that there would be – but again, I recognize, the Auditor General has spoken to us and has questioned whether it would be worthwhile to do this and what would be the point of it. Then, on the other hand, we are looking at the recommendations of Justice Green. We have been considering his recommendations very carefully. I would want to be able to demonstrate, both to ourselves and publicly, that if we cannot achieve what Justice Green has recommended that we would at least go as far as we possibly could, given reasonableness of costs and things.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

The Clerk.

CLERK: One of the things I think that we have to keep in mind with Green’s report is, he was appointed in I guess it was July, 2006, soon after the Auditor General’s reports first came out, and worked through the fall, winter of 2006-2007 and finally delivered his report in June, 2007. Various pieces of it, chapters and so on, because given the size of it, it obviously took a long while. It could have been written through the fall of 2006, winter 2006-2007 and so on. That recommendation to conduct an audit would have been made before, of course, the Auditor General started his review of the 115 members of the House from 1989 to 2004-2005 because that was finally concluded in September, 2007. He probably started it in the spring of 2007.

The Auditor General reviewed 18,000 claims. Now that is not everything in the Legislature. That is only members’ claims, and there are other activities and accounts, of course, within the Legislature out of expenditure, but if that was the area that was causing the greatest concern this recommendation would have been prior to the Auditor General’s review of all of those members’ claims. Now that is not an audit of the financial statement, but he would have looked at all of those transactional issues of individual members. So I do not know if that is part of what Green had in mind when he made the recommendation, thinking of the members’ claims over the years.

It is a difficult issue, and I appreciate the difficulty of the Commission. You do not want to just casually reject one of Green’s recommendations. I know that is very difficult, but I do not know in this particular one, since every individual transaction has been reviewed by the Auditor General, many by the Comptroller General, I cannot say he has done an exhaustive review, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, the Crown prosecutor has been through all of this for those sorts of matters. I am not sure the value of collecting this into statements and then attempting to audit it. The individual matters have all been examined; it would simply be the statement ten years after the fact which would now be created. So I am not sure if the value is there.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

Mr. Parsons.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: I am just curious as to the commentary around that, getting an accurate estimate of the cost. I am assuming that there was some work put into this note because you came up with your conservative estimate you say of approximately $600,000. Now you are telling us that we would need about two weeks of work to get a more accurate estimate. I am a bit lost on that.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: The estimate really talks about – what I did when I went back, I tried to determine how many transactions went through of each type during that period and a ballpark figure of how much time it might take to look at each one and then recreate it. Some of the difficulties I think we will have if we go out for an RFP are items like, there are no payroll registers existing anymore from that period, salaries are 75 per cent of the cost. How do you deal with those issues? How do you provide any direction to respondents in the RFP on those types of matters? Do you bring that out in the RFP? The only records they will have to deal with in payroll are the genesis payroll records. They will not have any of the other documentation associated with that.

Then there is the issue of the documentation for the members still with the RNC. We do not have that documentation. We cannot use that documentation. How do we create statements without that documentation? Do we provide direction that the statements will be recreated excluding that, or do we just use what is already in there and accept it as okay? These are the types of issues, I think, that need a lot of thought and consideration before we go out for an RFP.

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Parsons.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Those considerations that you just talked about, is that something that you would do as Chief Financial Officer or are these concerns and considerations that the Commission would have to make a decision on?

MS LAMBE: Well, if the decision was made to go out for an RFP, these are issues that would have to be dealt with before you could go out, so it might be something that needs to be discussed at a Commission meeting.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Am I correct in thinking, then, that - do you still feel that the $600,000 conservative quote is a valid estimate on your part?

MS LAMBE: I think it is valid based on the number of transactions there were for that period, and the length of time it might take to look at each of those transactions and redo the statements, but that is more or less taking that in isolation and saying that you will have the information that you need to do that. We have not even started to look to see if we can find any of this documentation yet.

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: We should say as well, at the end of the note, that figure is predicated on what we call the junior rate of $100 an hour. That is probably very optimistic. While there may be a lot of junior people working on recreating this, and going through files and so on, you always have more senior people. The Comptroller General has said to us, when we first showed him a note a month or two ago: You will not get it for $100; there will have to be some senior people.

Maybe on a blended rate, either $125 or $130 or $140 or what have you, but you will not get it just at $100 an hour any more.

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Parsons.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: I think we are dealing at this point with the cost of getting it done issue, and we are hearing figures of $600,000. It could be less; it could be more.

I agree that we have to balance what Chief Justice Green said and recommended versus, number one - Ms Marshall used the word - it might be impossible, but I come back to the words of the Auditor General. That is the man who examined all of this. That is the person whose opinion we have relied upon. That is the person’s opinion that the public relies upon, and that gentleman sat here a few months ago and told us, aside from the cost issue, that gentleman sat here in the public domain, on camera, and said he had serious concerns about the worthiness of it, if you did do it, and it probably would not be reliable.

I am just wondering, if we rely upon the Auditor General’s advice and recommendations for everything else, why wouldn’t we accept his recommendation and his comments to that effect? He would like to be able to do it as well. There is no doubt that Mr. Noseworthy, if he could have easily done and followed through on the recommendation of Justice Green, we all know he would have done it. He is telling us that, fine, we might do it but it is of no value to anybody when it is done.

Do you spend $600,000 plus, or whatever, to get something that is worthless? That is my concern. The public would certainly have some concerns, I am sure, and say: Well, do we send a fool further? We have already been told by the Auditor General that it could be worthless, and likely would be worthless. The Clerk is telling us that he is not likely to be at a comfort level to sign off on it. So, do you spend $600,000 to say that we worshipped that recommendation but yet we spend $600,000, probably, in public money to do that?

I just think it is foolhardy on our part. We can beat it to death but the bottom line is, the very man who we all depend upon in this Province for integrity and honesty is the Auditor General and we have his opinion.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

In my ignorance, if the Commission decided to ask the Auditor General to do this particular audit, can it be done? Would he do it?

CLERK: The audit but not the re-creation of the information. I think that would be unreasonable; it is such a huge effort. I do not think we could ask the Comptroller General or the Auditor General. Whoever who put the information together, of course, would then not be in a position to audit it. You would have to find someone else to audit it.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the Commission ready to make a recommendation and to pass a motion? If it is, then somebody can put forward a motion and we will entertain a seconder and then vote on the same.

Mr. Kennedy.

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I make a motion that we proceed with the matter to seek the RFP, if that is the process, to engage the accounting firm to perform this procedure.

MR. SPEAKER: Can somebody second the particular motion?

Moved by Mr. Kennedy and seconded by Ms Burke that we seek - would you mind putting your motion in perspective?

MR. KENNEDY: Well, I am just trying to think what the actual motion would be. There was some discussion to –

MR. SPEAKER: The motion to recreate the financial statement audits for the 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 fiscal years.

MS E. MARSHALL: It would be to proceed with the preparation of an RFP.

MR. SPEAKER: Of an RFP, and the RFP would be brought back to the Commission before we go forward with it?

MR. KENNEDY: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay.

The motion is that we proceed with a Request for Proposal to seek an outside audit or to create an RFP to seek an outside audit for the years 1999-2000 and 2000-2001. Properly moved and seconded.

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.

The motion is carried.

The next item on the agenda is the survey respecting constituency allowances. This is the financial performance of the House of Assembly and the statutory offices and the approved allocations and actual expenditures for Members of the House of Assembly for the period of April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009.

Here again this is keeping with the House of Assembly Accountability and Integrity Act, and enclosed in great detail are the expenditures provided for the performance of the House of Assembly, the statutory offices, and for each individual member, as we are supposed to do and publish and provide to each member.

Do members have questions or commentary on the figures and the information provided?

Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: Mr. Chair, the Audit Committee, probably about a month ago now, met with the Auditor General to go over his planning memorandum for his audit for the fiscal year 31 March 2009, so these would be the statements that would be provided to the Auditor General, or pretty close, for audit?

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: Yes, that is correct.

MS E. MARSHALL: The other question I had, the statements for the Office of the Auditor General are not included in this package, and they are audited by an outside auditing firm, but I would be interested in having that in the package too. I know it is audited by an outside firm but we approve the budget of the Auditor General’s office, so when I came to the end I noticed it was missing. So I would like to have that included in our package.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: I am not sure if we can include it. The legislation, the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act requires that the financial information for the House of Assembly service and the stat offices, as defined by that act, would be brought to the act –

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes, you mentioned that to me before.

MS LAMBE: I am sure they would not have an issue with it, but that is why they are not included.

MS E. MARSHALL: Okay. Could you follow up to see if we could, because when we go through the package it is like a piece of the Legislature is missing? When I come to the last page I am sort of wondering – I noticed it is not there. Has a firm been retained to audit the Auditor General’s office for this year?

MS LAMBE: Yes, they have been retained. Of course, the other part of this is we do not have access to their information in the same manner as we do this, but we can get it from their office.

MS E. MARSHALL: Okay. Yes, because it would be very high level.

MS LAMBE: Yes.

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes, okay. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: On the sheets here that we have for all the members, what dates are covered by these sheets for all of the individual members? These expenditures cover what dates?

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: There are all the expenditures incurred during the last fiscal year. I should not say – all the expenses that were processed from April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009.

MR. SPEAKER: I think there might be an error there when you look at the dates. Probably that is what Ms Burke is referring to because as I read it there the expenditure summarized by category is from March 1, 2009 to March 31, 2009. Should that have read differently than that?

Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: It should, but it is a quirk in the financial management system in actual fact. In order for us to be able to show the expenditures processed during the month in that column we have to select that criteria and that heading. So, it does include for the full year. We are in the process of getting that matter resolved.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: My comment on that is specifically when you read that and you look at a sheet here for Jack Byrne when he was the MHA, it certainly looks like there were expenses incurred in March, 2009. I know you are saying it is an error, and I understand it now. It goes back to the other year, but somehow that should be noted because it really looks inappropriate the way that it is presented publicly right now.

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: We are very limited in what we can do with these column headings. Remember, when we send it out we have a cover sheet explaining the columns and so on.

Expenditures processed during the month is 01 March to 31 March. The next column processed to date is the year-to-date. I think when we have talked about that, I do not know if there are limits in the size of column headings and so on. So we are actually showing one month and year-to-date one, but it was hard to put it up in the title. When we do the new reports that is all clarified, I think, coming from ECMS.

MS LAMBE: Yes.

CLERK: Yes. So this should be the last set of annual reports that will have these rather cryptic column headings.

MS LAMBE: (Inaudible) until after July.

CLERK: Oh, yes, (inaudible) get the first one, yes.

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Osborne.

MR. T. OSBORNE: Yes, on the point raised by Ms Burke. I mean if this is confusing to us here now, as members today, I mean if the Auditor General or somebody at some point down the road, two or three or four years down the road were to go back and review this, is there room for assumptions to be made or confusion at that particular point then? Should we at this juncture attach something to each of these for each member as opposed to just a covering letter to further explain, to eliminate the confusion so that at some point if there is an audit done we are not left trying to defend something because of a glitch in the computer system?

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: No, I do not think that would be necessary, Mr. Osborne. I do not think an auditor would have any confusion on this. I am not sure what results from the Commission being confused now. This has been the format of the report since we started this, since the first ones came out, one column on the month-to-date, because we provide these monthly of course, and another one on year-to-date.

The only difference that I remember in this is instead of having the words: expenditures incurred during the month. To be precise, we changed it to: processed, because we actually do not know when the expense might have been incurred by the member. All we know is when it was brought in for processing.

The other thing about these reports is unlike – and this is why we do it this way – the former practice of compiling members’ expenses in some manner, putting them into a spreadsheet like Excel and reporting them that way, every bit of data here is extracted from the financial management system, the Oracle system, untouched by human hands as it were, which was our decision. We do not want to be accused of manipulating anything on these reports.

Any auditor, for instance, running a report, if he looked for expenditures by a given member during March, for instance in the Jack Byrne case, he would get all of those zeros. This piece of paper is not really where the auditor would turn. He would go right back to the date in the Oracle system and he could print off these similar reports. So he would not be relying on the paper.

MR. SPEAKER: Any other commentary on Members Allowances and Statutory Offices, House of Assembly?

Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: I asked this one before, but seeing the fiscal year is over now. There is a section under the rules, section 10, where it says the Clerk shall advise the Speaker whenever the amount spent by the member is an amount that is in excess of more than 10 per cent, that one. That is being done, is it?

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: I believe so. We send e-mails. There are very few instances of this actually which hit the 10 per cent. I believe I am catching most of them. I do not know if one or two slipped through. They do not tend to be serious matters.

MS E. MARSHALL: Okay. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Any other commentary, further commentary? If not, this is for reporting purposes only and it will continue to show up in our agenda as directed by the House of Assembly Administration and Integrity Act.

The next item on the agenda would be the Automobile Allowance Issue. Since the Automobile Allowance Issue references the Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Third Party, I again will ask the Deputy Speaker to take my Chair here and deal with this particular item on the agenda. We will move further when that debate takes place.

The Deputy Speaker.

DEPUTY SPEAKER (Osborne): I guess in the absence of the Clerk I will ask Ms Marlene Lambe if she wanted to make some introductory remarks on this particular topic.

MS LAMBE: It is not a topic, actually, that I am familiar with because Ms Lorna Proudfoot has been dealing with it mainly. I have not had much involvement in this issue, but basically, the Comptroller General’s office had determined that, according to section 15 of our act, the car allowance should not have been paid to the Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition, and the Leader of the Third Party. They had received an allowance - I am not sure of all of them, but some of them had received it since October 2007 when the new rules came into effect.

In the correspondence that you will see attached, the Comptroller General mentions in the last paragraph that, "I also note that the opinion stated that the amounts already paid may not be recoverable based upon the doctrine of estoppel."

I guess this is the issue that we are looking at today: whether the attempt should be made to recover the car allowances that have been paid to these three individuals based on the estoppel principle.

DEPUTY SPEAKER: I will open the floor to comments by members of the Management Commission.

Are there any comments from any members? Any discussion?

Jerome Kennedy.

MR. KENNEDY: Mr. Speaker, the comment I would make is: There is reference to a legal opinion having been provided that was the basis - it appears to me - for the Comptroller General’s opinion. I would like to see, if possible, that legal opinion, and I would like to request that the Clerk, if the Clerk is the appropriate person, request that legal opinion be provided.

DEPUTY SPEAKER: The issue is to have the legal opinion provided to the Management Commission from the lawyer at the Department of Justice.

Can I have that put in the form of a motion, I guess, from Jerome Kennedy, and then ask for a seconder?

MR. KENNEDY: I guess the motion would be that a request - because I do not think that we can give a direction - that a request be made to the Department of Justice or to the Comptroller General’s office for the provision of the legal opinion which forms the basis for the Comptroller General’s letter of April 17, 2009.

DEPUTY SPEAKER: Do I have a seconder for that motion?

Joan Burke.

So the motion is, as worded by Jerome Kennedy, that we would seek a copy of the legal opinion provided to the Comptroller General, be provided as well to the Management Commission so we can further deliberate and make a decision.

Any other comments or any further discussion from any members of the Management Commission?

Okay. So we have direction there and we will await, I guess, again, the return of the Speaker for the resumption of business.

MR. SPEAKER (Fitzgerald): Mr. Kennedy.

MR. KENNEDY: I have another meeting scheduled. I have had to postpone a couple of things today. If I leave, do we have a quorum? We do not, do we?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, we do.

MR. KENNEDY: We do have a quorum without me? Okay.

I have to leave around 11:00 o’clock.

MR. SPEAKER: If there is anything on the agenda, I say to Mr. Kennedy, that he wants moved forward and discussed before he has to leave –

MR. KENNEDY: No, I (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: – then we will accommodate that request with the wish of the other members present.

The next item on the agenda is the eligible constituency allowance expenses. Is that the next item?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MR. KENNEDY: Mr. Speaker, before you – we should have corrected this on the record.

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Kennedy.

MR. KENNEDY: Earlier, before you excused yourself, you referred to the automobile insurance issue that affected you. I think it should be important to clarify on the record that we are dealing with the automobile allowance issue that we just dealt with.

MR. SPEAKER: If I said that word then I certainly retract it. It is the automobile allowance issue, not insurance issue. That will be duly noted. Thank you.

The next item would be the survey of members requesting that additional expense items be added to their allowance expenses. This was a survey, as well, that was done by the Clerk asking members if there was something that they thought should be brought to the Commission, that we have not now acknowledged, that may be eligible to be charged out as an expense under our constituency allowance.

Apparently, the Speaker was the only one who responded. The response that I had put forward was - and I guess I had heard it in going around to the schools in the Province - where some school students thought they were disadvantaged, by the fact of where they live, in taking part in the Youth Parliament.

It struck me as something that I thought was very unfair. We support the Youth Parliament. I think it is a wonderful organization. It is the only group that we allow to come here and use this Chamber, and it is something I think that we should continue.

So I wrote back to the survey and thought that maybe we should be able to allow some of our allowances to be used to defray the cost of students in rural Newfoundland and Labrador the same opportunity to come and take part in the Youth Parliament right here in this Chamber, rather than not being able to be here because of expenses.

The Clerk has suggested that it may be a donation in disguise and it might be better served by having it a budgetary item rather than members allowing it to happen as a donation. That is fine with me. The only thing that I wanted addressed is if somebody from Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair or somebody from Burgeo or somebody from Bonavista wanted to come here and take part in a Youth Parliament they should not have to be disadvantaged because they do not have the $1,000 to spend to come here. That will be something that we can include as a budgetary item, and there is probably no need of me even saying what I have said right now, but that was my response.

There was no other commentary brought forward, so I guess as the Members’ Compensation Review Committee brings forward their survey and interviews members then they will hear from each and every member, so that is for reporting purposes only.

The next item on the agenda is the Members’ Resources and Allowances Rules. This again is in reference to a situation where we have some members - in fact, a particular member - the Member for Torngat Mountains, who experiences a problem just about every day the House of Assembly is open, when she returns to her district, that there is no direct flight where she can attend to her duties here in the House and return home the same day; she has to overnight in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. By doing that, the process is to try to contact the Speaker, try to contact the Clerk. We have never refused anybody an overnight accommodation, but I am going to ask the Clerk to just expound a little bit on what I am saying because it seems like if we allow this to happen, in isolation of everybody else, for this one particular member, then we may have a problem with other sections of other rules.

It might be something that we can pass again to the Members’ Compensation Review Committee and by the time they report back I think the weather that would stop this, and by the time the House opens, for the most part, this could be looked after.

The Clerk, and then we will ask for commentary from members after.

CLERK: The Commission, at the May 13 meeting, asked us to draft up these proposed amendments, not just for the Member for Torngat Mountains, on her issues, but also because it applies to all members that the restriction exists on overnight accommodations while travelling and so on.

As the Law Clerk and Ms Lambe started to look at this, there are a number of rules impacted by this. It is not simply the section 43 mentioned. Section 43 then refers to section 31, and they are not well drafted, to be blunt.

A literal reading of it would suggest that you – they do not talk about return trips, for instance. You will remember how Green categorized MHAs in one of four categories. Well, they are clear for some categories and not for others. It talked about trips to the capital. It does not talk about trips back home and so on. It sounds like you can travel west to east but not east to west.

There are a number of drafting matters which we really think need to be clarified and it may be better to rewrite all of those sections of the rules on travel rather than trying to plug this hole at this time. So, the more we looked at it we thought, as the Members’ Compensation Review Committee is talking to members, getting their views on these things, the Law Clerk can then draft the rules in a more coherent fashion, because right now they are very – if you have tried to read those travel rules you have probably scratched your head trying to figure out what you are allowed to do on these return trips. I think they really need a complete rewrite, to achieve the same end perhaps but not leaving them as they are.

I do not know, Ms Lambe, some of your thoughts on it because you and the Law Clerk looked at this.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: I do not think there is much I can add, but if you go through and start at section 31, which is a relevant section, that is the section for what we call MHA-2, and as the Clerk said, it talks about returning to the permanent residence or to the constituency, but not the reverse.

When you get into looking at MHA-1 and MHA-2, the different ones, the wording is not consistent. So it is not really clear in each case what is meant by it. We put this interpretation on it based on our discussions with members of the Green Commission, but to deal with it in isolation I think would not be fair. You need to look at all the travel and living allowance section.

MR. SPEAKER: Commentary?

Mr. Parsons.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Clarification here. I am looking at the item dealing with proposed amendments to Members’ Resources and Allowances which that note indicates that you are recommending that the Commission refer it to the Members’ Compensation Review Committee. Now the Clerk’s commentary is directed to having our Law Clerk draft up an amendment. I am a bit lost on that. We have one direction in here and another direction from your commentary.

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: Only in so far as – as the Members’ Compensation Review Committee makes its recommendations and decisions, the Law Clerk would provide assistance in the drafting language. To the similar point that Minister Burke said in terms of referring the results of the survey. Simply, so they are not incurring a lot of additional legal costs, but the Law Clerk would not be deciding the recommendations. She would simply be following the directions from the Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Parsons.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Again, some direction and commentary I guess from my colleagues. Refresh my memory on what Justice Green said with regards to review and consideration or changing of these types of issues. My understanding was that Justice Green expected us to look after these issues, whereas now we are getting the reference to give it to the review committee. I have no problem with sending it to the review committee. I just do not want the review committee looking at us and saying: Now just a minute, that is not one of the issues. It was contemplated by Justice Green that you people on the Commission deal with that.

MR. SPEAKER: I think he gave us several options, I say to Mr. Parsons.

The Clerk.

CLERK: The authority is with the Commission, so the Members’ Compensation Review Committee can only recommend. So if there are rule amendments required, the recommendations of the Members’ Compensation Review Committee come back to the Commission. The Commission will have to make the rule amendments.

Similarly, if there are legislative amendments required, salaries and pensions, the Members’ Compensation Review Committee recommendations come back here to be forwarded to a minister. So that Members’ Compensation Review Committee has no authority in itself. It can only make the recommendations which you have to decide as a Commission.

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Parsons.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: I do not know where it is appropriate; I wanted to bring this issue up. In fact, I mentioned it to Ms Lambe a few days ago. As each item keeps coming up I think it fits there but yet, I do not know if it does fit there.

We are talking about rule changes. If we are going to be referring these things to the Commission, maybe I should mention it here for the sake of making sure it is out there. Anyway, it involves the issue of RFPs and so on, which we discussed earlier. We were talking about expenditure of money under this one, and overnighting and so on. It is an incident whereby I referenced earlier I was getting a householder done. My assistant contacted Ms Lambe’s office and said: how do we go about this, verifying the rules? They said go get your three quotes, which we did. We sent the document that we were going to get printed off to three different printers to get the quotes. One person told us $1,000, another person said, and I stand to be corrected but I am in the ballpark on these figures, very close. One said $1,000, a second said $1,200 and a third said $1,450.

So that was the direction that we had followed. Subsequently to that, we were on the verge of going off and doing it with the low tender, low call. Then we get a call from Ms Lambe’s office saying no, because it is printing it has to be, under the rules, done by the Queen’s Printer. We had no problem with that either. So we went off to the Queen’s Printer then and said here is the document we are going to get printed and the Queen’s Printer, which we are required to follow, is charging $2,200. That is coming out of me as a member, for example. My allowance now, I am going to spend $2,200 because of a rule to do it with the Queen’s Printer, versus spending $1,000. There is something wrong with that logic; there is something wrong with that. That does not make sense.

I am just wondering if that is another rule we need to – because I am required, every member is required to do that. If we are going to be paying the Queen’s Printer more than 100 per cent more to get that type of thing done, I mean that just does not make sense. I am sure Justice Green did not intend that to be the case.

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: That particular issue is not actually a rule under the Members’ Resources and Allowances rules. That would be more falling under the - in the absence of alternative policies developed by the Commission, we follow government policies. So government policies in the first instance, all printing jobs would go to the Queen’s Printer.

Your case was brought to my attention by Ms Lambe, and we have looked at it. We think we will have to talk to the Government Purchasing Agency and see if there is a way of avoiding this. I mean, there are issues of time, costs, and so on. It may be that we can develop a policy to address this printing without going to the Queen’s Printer.

Generally, departments go to the Queen’s Printer. If the Queen’s Printer cannot do it for speed or cost or quality or some reason, then departments are free to go out. While we could go that route with these householders and newsletters and so on, it may be simpler just to change a policy so that we are not obligated to go to the Queen’s Printer in the first instance. Maybe we seek three quotes, one of which must be from the Queen’s Printer.

So then, in the case you described, if the Queen’s Printer was the highest of the three, you could pick the lowest of the three as an alternative.

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Parsons.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: I have no problem with using the government printer, we should. I think that is if it meets the cost factor.

To me, I still say we should still go get the three quotes, separate quotes, and then we should also get a quote from the Queen’s Printer. If the Queen’s Printer is equal to or less than the lowest one, fine, we use the Queen’s Printer. Otherwise, why would you pay $1,200 more for a job than is required? It just does not make sense, and it comes off the member’s allowance.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes, could I go back to the proposed amendments? Because we spoke about the amendment to the section 43, but at the time when we met last, I also asked that we would look at the rule that for members whose districts are way outside the capital region, would like to split their trip. You know, go, for example, as far as Gander. The rules, or the interpretation that is being put on the rules, is that if you stay in St. John’s that night that your hotel accommodations will be reimbursed but if you stop in Gander or Grand Falls or whatever it will not be.

I do not have a problem with deferring this to the review committee, but I did not see that rule as being complex, especially in that I do not even think there is a rule there that says that, so I do disagree with the staff on their interpretation.

Is there some complexity with regard to that one that I am not aware of?

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. MacKenzie.

CLERK: It is that very issue that is the complicated one. We could address the Member for Torngat Mountains’ issue, but it is that particular issue where different categories of members are dealt with differently in the rules.

You are an MHA one, two, three or four; there are differences. If it is not clear you are entitled to return trips, you might just have to make repeated one-way trips. How you get back the other way, I have no idea. It is all the sections, starting with section 31 on, that deal with all of these travels that really need a complete rewrite.


I will ask Ms Lambe just to point out some of the complexities, but those are not so much the issues Minister Pottle has; it is for the other ones.

MS E. MARSHALL: It is the other one.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Lambe.

Do you want to hear the –

MS E. MARSHALL: A very brief, brief, version.

MR. SPEAKER: Because this is where the Members’ Compensation Review Committee, this is the book of work that they are going to do. Obviously, Ms Marshall, you are raising it on behalf of somebody who raised it with you.

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes, several members.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

The Members’ Compensation Review Committee will be meeting either with members who represent areas together or individually, but everybody will have an opportunity to bring forward their requests and the challenges they have with the existing rules. What you are raising will obviously be raised to the Commission within the next very short period of time.

MS E. MARSHALL: And the Committee reports back by when?

MR. SPEAKER: They report back in 120 days.

CLERK: October 31.

MR. SPEAKER: October 31.

MS E. MARSHALL: October 31, okay.

MR. SPEAKER: That has to come back here.

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: They report to the Commission or through me to the Commission.

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The Commission will have an opportunity to look at each and every rule and recommendation.

MS E. MARSHALL: I do not want to deprive Ms Lambe of the opportunity to speak, but I am satisfied with the explanation provided by the Clerk.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: I really do not need to speak.

MR. SPEAKER: Does that satisfy you, Ms Marshall?

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes, it does.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay.

Thank you.

I guess we need a motion that the Commission refer to the Members’ Compensation Review Committee the request to amend the Members’ Resources and Allowances Rules to allow overnight travel for members, since it was a directive that was given at another meeting.

Could somebody make that a motion?

Made by Ms Marshall; seconded by Mr. Parsons.

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

The next under item number 5 is the forensic audit relating to Green recommendation number 49, which says, "A forensic accounting investigation should be conducted to determine if the transactions contemplated by the decisions of the Commission of Internal Economy on March 6, 2002 and February 26, 2003, with respect to potential payments to MHAs of sums related to their constituency allowances occurred, and if so, if they reflected the intent of the decision so made."

We received the Grant Thornton report, which was a forensic audit carried out regarding those particular dates and the payments that were made as it relates to the constituency allowances, and the report was relayed to the Audit Committee. We provided it to a solicitor for a legal opinion, and we also structured a committee of the Management Commission that was not involved, was not part of the two dates, the two years that we are referring to right here.

I am going to ask the Clerk - I think the Clerk is probably the best one - to speak to what has transpired here and what the recommendations are, and maybe if Ms Marshall and Ms Burke would like to comment as well, or Mr. Osborne, on what the recommendations were related to the legal opinion. Then we can proceed on what the recommendations were.

The Clerk.

CLERK: Thank you.

As you mentioned, this comes out of Green’s report, recommendation 49, to conduct this forensic audit investigation. There were two IEC minutes which seemed to be rather vague, which spoke to increasing constituency allowances, but there was no precise reference in the minute as to what was contemplated. There seems to be no record of transactions which would show they have been put into effect. At least Green could not find any. Again, as I said earlier, Chief Justice Green would have been writing this through the fall of 2006, the spring of 2007 and so on.

We put out an RFP for this forensic accounting and got - I am not sure - there was only one bid on it. It took a while to get that. They have done an audit based on the minutes and the payments made to members for those two fiscal years. All they found that would seem to give evidence that these minutes had been put into effect was one column and payment which was seen in a number of instances of $5,500. There was no other common dollar amount, percentage amount, or anything else across members which would seem to suggest that it resulted from this minute.

Their report also identifies, however, that $717 of the $5,500 was actually assigned to the HST account. So what you are essentially left with is a $4,800 discretionary allowance payment, which is what the rules of the day allowed, and a $700 HST component added on to the discretionary, which was how matters were handled. So, while they gave a qualified opinion that this $5,500 may reflect the results of the decision – the IEC minutes - they did point out that it went to the HST account.

As a result of that, Mr. Speaker, as you said, we set up a subcommittee of this Commission, of Minister Burke, Ms Marshall and Ms Michael, because those three individuals were not recipients of this discretionary allowance, as identified in the report.

That subcommittee met with the Comptroller General and the Auditor General, discussed matters among themselves, and really the conclusion of those individuals is that this $700, over and above the $4,800, is simply the HST; it does not reflect back to those IEC minutes. Whatever the common element of those minutes was, it is not this $700 over and above the $4,800, because that was the standard practice for dealing with HST matters.

We then, as a result of those meetings with this subcommittee, engaged a solicitor from Stewart McKelvey to give some thought as to how to approach this. Was there a case made that the $700 was outside of the authorized limits? We have attached his letter there, and he says no, that was simply the way HST was dealt with.

Ms Lambe and I have looked at this and we are satisfied, the Comptroller General is satisfied, the Auditor General is satisfied, that this $5,500 is not tied to those two rather unclear IEC minutes of March 2002 and February 2003. However, in compiling the information in this audit, what did arise was that some payments were made to members greater than the $5,520 – which would be the $4,800 approved discretionary amount plus $720, the 15 per cent HST – and there were eight or nine of those individuals.

The Auditor General compared the specific amounts that Grant Thornton uncovered. There are one or two discrepancies, not major, but some matters which were assigned to the discretionary expense category by Grant Thornton, the Auditor General has found receipts for and would put them into one of the other categories. Irrespective of how they are categorized, if the discretionary allowance maximum, inclusive of HST was $5,520, we need to examine those which are greater than $5,520 in a given fiscal year.

In asking Stewart McKelvey, our lawyer, to have a look at that, he is not convinced that good documentation exists to categorically indicate that those expenditures greater than $5,520 were within the discretionary allowance category, the maximum, or indeed, if they were receipted expenses misapplied. If they were expenses from office-holders, such as the Speaker of the day, and instead of Speaker office expenses being charged to the Speaker’s office they got charged to the individual as an MHA and so on. There are still many questions.

The upshot of it all was our solicitor could not give us hard advice. His recommendation, at the end of it all, if you go to the very end of this section we have his letter back to us, is to ask the Auditor General for his advice on the matter. The advice, as I note in the briefing note, is simply get his advice whether he considers sufficient information is available, based on his prior reviews, to determine with reasonable certainty that overpayments were made. If, indeed, the Auditor General says these were overpayments, then I guess we will have to take recovery actions. So it is just trying to get clarity that these can indeed be considered overpayments.

I do not know, Mr. Speaker, if that is adequate to set the stage for it.

MR. SPEAKER: We will entertain commentary and a suggestion as to how we move forward with the forensic audit that has been provided to us by Grant Thornton.

Commentary?

Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: That was a good job that the Clerk just did with the summary, Mr. Speaker.

I do not have a problem with the recommendation that is there. I would be very interested in hearing the views of the Auditor General on whether the documentations would support recovery. I did spend some time, with the approval of the members of the subcommittee, with both the Clerk and the CFO. We were trying to reconcile the Grant Thornton numbers with the Auditor General’s number and also trying to make sure the expenditures all related to the non-discretionary, what category they were in.

So, yes, I think that would be informative. I do not know what kind of opinion the Auditor General will give, but I would be interested in hearing his views on it.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

A motion is in order that the Commission request the Auditor General’s advice as to whether sufficient information is available, based on prior reviews, to determine with reasonable certainty that overpayment, where under the discretionary allowance category for the years 1996-1997 to 2003-2004.

Does some member want to make that a motion that we provide and seek the Auditor General’s advice as it relates to the forensic audit?

The motion is moved by Ms Marshall, seconded by Ms Burke.

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.

The motion is carried.

The next item on the agenda is the Conference Travel Policy.

While we are trying to provide members – and members have become very conscious and cognizant of doing things in the proper way. Many members have come forward and asked what our travel policy has been, and we, it is my understanding, have never had a travel policy for Members of the House of Assembly. While ministers of the House of Assembly and departments have travel policies, the House of Assembly has never adopted a travel policy.

So in the absence of a travel policy, the Clerk and the staff of the House of Assembly have put forward a suggestion here on what we can accept, and might be acceptable, is an adoption for travel policy for members. When members come looking to find out how they should travel, if they should travel by car versus by air, and what the breakdown is as to how much they claim and what the limits are, we can provide them something in writing to say here are the restrictions, here is what you are entitled to, and each and every member will be following the same set of rules.

Members of the Commission have had an opportunity to look at the proposal, and that is all this is, is a proposal. It gives us an opportunity to get our mind around things and see what exists somewhere else. We have put it forward here as a suggestion, and if members want to change part of this proposal or delete part of it, or dismiss it in its entirety, then we are certainly at your wish.

I ask members if they have commentary on the suggestion as put forward here by an adoption of travel policy for Members of the House of Assembly. We refer to it as conference travel policy, but I say to the Clerk, I guess it could be travel policy in general. It should not only be restricted to members going to a conference. Members would have reason to travel for other things sometimes, as well. I see no reason at the first blush of why it could not be extended to general travel by Members of the House of Assembly.

The Clerk.

CLERK: It cannot be applied to travel by members on constituency business because that is all covered under the Members’ Resources and Allowances Rules. That is why it was specific to conferences. I suppose it could be other matters for which a member might travel, but it could not be the sort of constituency business covered by the Members’ Resources and Allowances Rules.

MR. SPEAKER: No.

CLERK: It would have to be separate from that.

MR. SPEAKER: Sure. What I was thinking about is sometimes we have all-party committees. Sometimes we structure a reason for members to travel, other than to a conference. So this would be the guidelines.

The Clerk.

CLERK: Yes, I would think so. All we were thinking of was conference. The all-party committees might – yes, I suppose, I do not know. Ms Lambe, any thoughts?

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: The Members’ Resources and Allowances Rules do cover travel for committees. It is specifically mentioned in the rules.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay.

MS LAMBE: Committees of the House would normally be covered under those rules, and that is part of the Members’ Rules Manual.

MR. SPEAKER: Commentary?

Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: (Inaudible) Public Accounts Committee, I know they do have an annual conference. There are separate rules for that, is there? They would be covered under these rules. These rules are modeled under what? Usually we go to government policy or something, so these rules are modeled on what policy? Our policy is modeled under whose policy?

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: They are under the ministerial policies for travel. So it mirrors the new ministerial policies for travel by ministers.

MS E. MARSHALL: Where would these expenses be charged? They do not get charged to your constituency allowance, obviously.

MS LAMBE: There is a budget under House Operations for conference travel. So they will be all charged there for all the different conferences that members might go to throughout the year with the different Commonwealth Parliamentary Associations.

MS E. MARSHALL: Okay. I do not have any other questions right now.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: I know that it says in the Modes of Travel, and I know that it is based on some of the ministerial policies we have now, but it says: All air travel on scheduled flights will be economy class except..." Then it gives some suggestions of where the exceptions are. I would like to see it just say: All air travel on scheduled flights will be economy class, period, with no exceptions.

MR. SPEAKER: Could you refer us to the section that you are referencing there?

MS BURKE: That is in section 4.1, and I give an example why I say that. At one point, on government business, I had to travel on an international flight and the difference in the cost between economy and business class was $7,000. Despite the fact that it is a ministerial policy, it is something that could not be justified, I guess, financially, that you would spend that much more. Sometimes the difference in the airline rates is significant, and I think that we should set the example. We should be prudent with our financial resources here and we should lead by example, regardless of wherever there may be other policies, but all our travel should be economy class, period.

MR. SPEAKER: Commentary?

MS BURKE: I have another comment on that.

MR. SPEAKER: I am just going to note this one now for further discussion, or to bring forward as a change in a motion to be put forward.

Further commentary?

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: My other commentary is on section 4.1.7, and this is Spousal and Dependant Travel, "Spousal and dependent travel expenses are not eligible for reimbursement." I would not even have it there. That is not saying they are eligible; it is just that, why would we even acknowledge it? It is not an issue; it is not on.

MR. SPEAKER: No, the only thing is that it is still a topic. Members still come and ask if their spouse is allowed to travel or if their spouse is covered, but I have no problem (inaudible) –

MS BURKE: I just say: Look, the answer is no. Check the policy. It does not cover it; it is not there. I would not even draw attention to it. I do not even think it is necessary.

MR. SPEAKER: So you are saying delete 4.1.7.

MS BURKE: Yes, that would be my recommendation.

MR. SPEAKER: Any further commentary?

Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes, one final comment under 4.1.1. where it says, "The Member is required to return home on an urgent matter."

Who would determine whether it is urgent? Perhaps we can just put a comma after matter and say: as determined by or as approved by. Or, is the policy that is mirrored under is to leave it like that? Who determines, what is an urgent matter?

MR. SPEAKER: Where is it? Can you refer me to the number?

MS E. MARSHALL: It is on page 2, around the middle of the page. One of the bullets says, "The Member is required to return home on an urgent matter." Who determines urgent? The person?

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: I guess just whoever is processing the claim. In Corporate and Members’ Services they would give an explanation. We get these judgement calls that have to be made from time to time.

MS E. MARSHALL: Okay, so members would decide if it is urgent and then they could appeal to the Speaker or the Clerk.

CLERK: Something like that, I suppose, yes.

MS E. MARSHALL: Okay.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

I just want to refer back to Ms Burke’s comments on the 4.1.1, air travel. Ms Burke, this is a reflection of ministers’ travel. Are you saying that we should have two levels of travel, that ministers would be allowed to travel first class and all other Members of the House of Assembly would have to travel economy?

MS BURKE: I would think that anybody who is travelling as a member would follow these rules, because it would be posted to the House of Assembly. I would think that we cannot here change the rules for ministers, but I would think and I would hope that ministers would also choose what would be the most economical way to travel, because it is in the travel budgets. Like I said, one trip alone for me, when I checked the price difference - and this was being posted back to the federal government; it was not coming out of our coffers, but it was still public money, no doubt - there was a difference of $7,000.

I am not here to change the ministerial policy but I am here to comment on members, and I think that if we expect other people in the public who have to travel – and sometimes great distances – economy class, because the whole plane is not business class, that if we expect others should do it and can do it, I do not see why we cannot. It is as simple as that.

MR. SPEAKER: Any other commentary?

Mr. Parsons.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: I am just curious. What does the rest of the public service do? We have had a comparison to ministerial, but what does the rest of the public sector – if somebody in the Department of Finance, for example, who is an Assistant Deputy Minister, goes to Vancouver for a conference, what would be the rules?

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: I can just read it out for you, if you like.

It says: All air travel on scheduled flights will be economy class except where, with the approval of the minister, business class is the only seat available and a delay in travel is not acceptable.

MR. SPEAKER: So, there is nothing clearly written there saying that flights west of Toronto are first class, or overseas flights are first class.

MS E. MARSHALL: Could Ms Lambe just read that again? Because that was not my understanding of what the government policy was for employees.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: All air travel on scheduled flights will be economy class except where, with the approval of the minister, business class is the only seat available and a delay in travel is not acceptable.

That is a quote from the HR Policy Manual.

MS E. MARSHALL: I had thought that for government employees, if they were going west of Toronto, it was similar to the minister, but that is not correct?

MS LAMBE: No.

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Parsons.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: I have no problem with the amendment proposed by Ms Burke but I do think, in view of the comments of Ms Marshall, that we need to verify what it is or is not. If, as Ms Marshall was saying, there are different rules for travel, let’s nail this down properly.

I think the rules we should have - and that is why I agree with the amendment – are whatever the public service have. I do not think the model is necessarily a ministerial model, but I would like to have confirmation of what is the government model. If that is accurate, fine, but Ms Marshall, I am sure, is not just saying that is her understanding for no reason; she has obviously dealt with this.

MR. SPEAKER: Those are the rules as they are written, Ms Lambe?

MS LAMBE: Well, I just printed this off from the Public Service Secretariat Web site, the HR Policy Manual.

MS E. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, I don’t have a problem with the amendment, either; it is just that (inaudible).

 

MR. SPEAKER: Those are the rules, and if somebody’s thoughts were different then those are the rules.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: No problem.

MR. SPEAKER: Further comments?

Okay, we will refer back to the change. So the air travel, Ms Burke, are you saying, or is your suggestion, that we also not allow business class where there is no other seat available? In other words: All air travel on scheduled flights will be economy class except where there are no business/economy tickets available and travel is necessary. An explanation with any supporting documentation must be included with the Official Journey Authorization.

Are you suggesting we do away with: Travel is international, and the continuous travel is to a location west of Toronto, and other circumstances as approved by the Speaker - that we do away with that but we leave the bullet there that there are no non-business/economy tickets available and travel is necessary?

We need to make that distinction, too. We cannot have somebody really - if they absolutely have to travel, is it right to have them at the airport or stay home and not be able to take advantage of a seat, if it is absolutely necessary?

MS BURKE: I guess it depends on what is absolutely necessary. Is their attendance at a conference absolutely necessary? Probably not; it is probably optional.

MR. SPEAKER: No, and it would not be, and if members leave it until the end to make it, ten minutes before they go, then that is not the way it should be either.

I need clarification.

MS BURKE: Well, if you are looking for my clarification, I will go back to what I recommended: all travel on scheduled flights will be economy class.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay. So, no except where?

MS BURKE: Now that is open for discussion. That is just how I feel about it.

MR. SPEAKER: Oh yes, but we need to know exactly what it is we are talking about.

Members have heard the clarification. Any comments?

The other suggestion is we delete 4.1.7, Spousal and Dependant Travel. "Spousal and dependant travel expenses are not eligible for reimbursement." We delete that particular heading.

I think, Ms Marshall, you are okay with leaving: "The Member is required to return home on an urgent matter," existing?

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Any other commentary on deletion or additions?

If not, a motion is in order to accept the Conference Travel Policy with the deletion of the two items referred to, 4.1.1 Air Travel, and 4.1.7 from the schedule, and just rewrite 4.1.1 to say all air travel on scheduled flights will be economy class.

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.

The motion is carried.

Motion carried.

MR. SPEAKER: The next item on the agenda is Caucus Operational Funding Grants. This is under New Business, continuation of new business.

Mr. Clerk, do you want to make commentary on this particular policy? I think it was prepared and is coming from the Metrics recommendation on caucus funding. There were some concerns raised by members of the Commission and by members of the caucuses actually, on the caucus funding that was made available since it has risen substantially, I guess, in some cases with either the number of members elected or the changes to the caucus funding approvals as put forward and accepted here by the Metrics review and the guidelines that they put forward.

There is a proposal here that we would like to ask members comments on. Here again, it would give everybody clear direction on how caucus funding should be spent.

The Clerk.

CLERK: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, it essentially summarizes the issue. For many years caucuses have been given small grants for miscellaneous expenses. At one point back in the 1990s it was, I think, $75 per private member, and then dropped to $62.50 per private member. When the Metrics EFG firm did the review of all these matters they recommended $100 per private member, with a minimum per caucus of $800, but they also recommended that we get a list of eligible expenses. Previously, there was no approved list. It might have been used for meals if the House sat late, it might have been used for newspaper subscriptions, courier fees; almost any miscellaneous expense the caucus might have.

With Metrics recommendation, we have tried to develop a list of the sorts of acceptable miscellaneous expenses which traditionally have been incurred by the caucus or caucus staff. So we have talked to the caucuses to try to get their feedback on it. It is a very difficult list we found to put together and we would not be surprised if this is subject to amendments as time goes on. It is hard to get a compete list of everything that might possibly arise in day-to-day life.

Generally speaking, we have gone over this with the caucuses, discussed it with them and I think they are generally happy with it. Although, I think some of the matters that we have listed under ineligible were matters that some of the caucuses thought should be eligible. So our recommendation of it as ineligible is very much a result of Ms Lambe and I putting these recommendations together. So there is no right or wrong to it, it is simply recommendations.

MR. SPEAKER: Commentary?

Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I have several comments on this item.

First of all, I want to make it clear that this is a grant. There is a cheque made payable to the caucuses and they maintain the bank account. My first question relates to who controls the bank accounts, because this is what I would consider a significant amount of money? The cheque is written by the Comptroller General and it gets deposited into a separate bank account. Are we aware of what kinds of controls are exercised over those individual bank accounts, or do we just leave that up to the caucuses?

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: It is very much left up to the caucuses. The cheques are provided monthly in trust, usually to the caucus chair and quite often one of the staffers, office manager, admin assistant or whoever would assist in managing the bank account. They would put it in the bank and write the cheques as these various expenses arise. We have no control over it once they have put it in the bank, deposited it and start spending it.

One of the other Metrics recommendations, which the Commission adopted, was to get an annual report on these expenditures.

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes, I was going to ask about that.

CLERK: So we would receive that annually but we do not control it through the year.

MS E. MARSHALL: Have you received an annual report yet, or this will be the first year for the annual report?

CLERK: This is the first year. That Commission minute was last October. Then they will have to do an annual report. They were given ninety days after the fiscal year end. So they have until the end of June to provide these reports.

MS E. MARSHALL: Okay, right.

Is there any intention that there would be – you and the Chief Financial Officer will get the return from the caucuses. Is it envisioned that there will be any review work or you will just look at the statement and accept it as it is? Was that the intent?

CLERK: I suppose. I mean, we only have the authority provided under this Commission minute, or other matters in the act to rule.

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes, that is why I am asking. I am curious as to whether we should put something in there.

CLERK: Right now, we received the report. I guess we look down and compare it to what would be eligible and illegible, but it would be all done after the fact. Even if you spent money on illegible items, we would not know until the report came in at the end of the year.

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes. Well, my first comment would be that I think there should be something in there which indicates that the House of Assembly service can go back and make some inquiries and obtain some information as to what expenditures were made and what they were made on.

The other comment that I have is under that section 4.1 where we are defining eligible items, services and activities. There are items there that I do not agree with and there are other items there that really require clarification. What is there is too general. There are items there that I do not agree with. I think that when we provide some description of eligible items I think that we should provide more than a bullet. I think that we should be fairly specific because even though this money is paid out in terms of a grant, the budget is approved by the Management Commission and we do have a responsibility as to how the money was spent.

Some of the items that I have concerns about would be things like - one there, alcohol, we are going to pay for alcoholic beverages with meals or social events. No, I absolutely do not agree with that because we have already run into trouble with that when the Auditor General did his review. So, that one should definitely come out.

Then there are other items there. I do not understand why the caucus fund would be paying for things like registration and travel costs associated with luncheons, such as Board of Trade and other functions. I would like more information, because when I read this I do not know why we would be paying – like newspapers and other subscriptions, and books, we had talked about this when this issue came forward before. I think the Leader of the Third Party indicated the same thing - I think I am quoting her - but we can claim newspapers and other subscriptions from our constituency account, so why would this come out of caucus funds?

Then we are talking about meals and food services, for what? I think of meals. I know meals are provided, like when we have a late-night sitting, so I think that if we are going to allow meals and food services I think we should elaborate and say this would include meals for late-night sittings. I think it should be a bit more prescriptive than what it is. As I say, some of the – like advertising, why would we do advertising in caucus funds?

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: I can just give brief thoughts on those. It does not mean that they do not need greater explanation and a policy adopted.

When we are talking about the caucus, we are not necessarily talking about the individual members which comprise it. For instance, some members of caucus would have their outside offices, so you would have caucus staff and so on there as well.

Newspaper subscriptions: perhaps a given MHA, as a member, would not want to use his allowance to get The Globe and Mail or the National Post, but yet there was a need for the caucus to have it. So there may be things that individual members would not want to do.

The registration with luncheons could be more caucus staff; because, you are right, the MHA could incur those expenses his or her self. Meals and food services could be very much that sort of thing, like nights. Alcohol: what the AG commented on was the stand-alone purchase of alcohol. If you bought alcohol with restaurant meals he did not comment on that, and did not even itemize it.

MS E. MARSHALL: Right, but Green did. That is right, Green did. Yes.

CLERK: Yes.

Advertising: again, members have their own individual advertising. This would be more as a caucus, if the caucus were having hearings, or Caucus X is going to Town Y, if you want to meet with them this afternoon, those sorts of things.

MS E. MARSHALL: This thing about what is not eligible, yes, I think that is good, and I am glad there is a section on that, but for eligible items I think - whether we do it here now as a Commission - there are some things there I do not like, like the alcoholic beverages, and a lot of the other issues. I would like for it to be clearer as to what that money can be spent on.

We are talking about accountability. This money is going out to the caucus, but ultimately you are responsible, and ultimately the Commission is responsible. We have gone through such a difficult process with regard to the rules, and now everything is so ironclad, I would like to see this the same way.

MR. SPEAKER: It was strictly as suggestions that it was put in. This is what some of this money was spent for in the past. When you see alcoholic beverages there, I think that was put in with the thought that it was not uncommon in the past for Christmas socials. That is probably the only time that anything was ever bought for alcohol. Each Christmas, caucuses have had Christmas socials where they invite members, refreshments have been provided, food has been provided, not only for members but for other people who have been invited as well, but it is strictly suggestions.

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Parsons.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Mr. Chair, I agree with the comments of Ms Marshall with respect to what is eligible. Albeit the alcohol piece might be a hangover from years past, that has not been the practice since the Green report. In fact, I think if we allowed alcohol as an eligible item under this policy it would be contrary to Green. We would certainly be operating contrary to what he said specifically. It is in legislation, when it comes to the constituency allowances, that any alcohol is not permitted. I do not know why – if it is all public money, it is public money, and I think the rules that apply to us as members should apply, because this is all about us as members too. It is about caucus members, which has no distinction to be made, in my view. That definitely needs to come out. I think it is illegal for us to leave it there, based on section 46 and the intent of Justice Green’s report.

Some of the other items, I agree with, too, like the one on gifts. We just need a bit of direction and we need to firm that up a bit: what kind of gifts; what extent of gifts; appreciative gifts; are there limits on the amount of the gifts? We went through this issue before in this House with ministers, for example, who travel and were given a watch in anticipation by some Kuwaiti government thing and that caused a big stir. I think we do not need to go down that path again. I think we need to firm that thing up.

Likewise, on the advertising, I cannot, for the life of me, imagine why a caucus would be advertising. If you are going to do that, unless it is some advertising relating to, again - maybe it is some member, for example, who wants to advertise that there will be a meeting at whatever hotel tomorrow night to discuss the government’s new policy on home heating. I can see something like that, if it is related to your business, but we need some rules around it again as to what kind of advertising is permissible.

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes, because if members wanted to advertise they were having a public forum or a public meeting, they would pay for that out of their constituency fund, right? So why would the caucus fund be advertising? I do not know.

MR. SPEAKER: There seem to be many suggestions and proposals here, I think probably far too many for us to deal with here now, to come up with something that could be clearly written and acceptable to all of us.

Do members want to make their views known after the meeting, or not necessarily directly after the meeting but within the next short period of time, to the Clerk’s office, and we can probably rewrite this to bring it back, reflecting some of the thoughts that we have heard here.

Ms Burke, your commentary?

MS BURKE: Maybe we could bring the draft policy now –

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

MS BURKE: – to the caucuses, and ask them to review and come back. Not everyone, not all members, come back, but maybe a representative from each caucus report back to the House of Assembly with suggestions that go in, I guess – and you could probably meet with them and another draft come forward, but I think right now there are a lot of questions, and there is input –

MR. SPEAKER: Sure.

MS BURKE: – there are forty-eight members who will probably have a critical analysis of a lot of this.

I do not think it is ready to move forward, but I think the caucuses themselves probably need to have a look at this. Again, I have had no involvement with the caucus fund or how they spend it, but there are people who are very familiar with that fund, and what comes out of it, and what they need to operate.

MR. SPEAKER: I think they should, because each member, the caucus fund is reflective of not a donation but an amount of money for each individual member, and we have had members in the past who have said, that money is mine, and have it come in my name rather than the name of the caucus.

This is the kind of thing that has been done. Me, as the Speaker, I get $100 a month which I have to account for, because it is what every other member gets to reflect on them being a private member to contribute to the caucus fund.

Clerk, or Marlene – or Ms Lambe - do you have further commentary on the suggestions?

Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: Yes, on Ms Burke’s point, we did meet with the caucus staff a couple of times, asked for their input, and part of this is based on the input we received from them - most of it is, actually - and based on the information they provided in their draft reports, because some of them have forwarded the reports to us to date.

The other thing is, and I am not sure, I know it is $100 per member, but it was our understanding that this was more caucus operations, and for the operations of the caucus staff, and the work that they do on behalf of the caucus. So when we talked about any of these items, it was meant strictly for caucus staff. That was our understanding that it would be meant to - when you are talking about travel to meetings or travel to luncheons. That would not be members travelling; that would be caucus staff travelling. That was my understanding of the intent and the use, to date, of the caucus operational funding.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been representation made, before this suggestion was written, by the three caucuses.

Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: Oh, yes. We requested the input. We received it back from two of the caucuses, but we also met with them a couple of times on this issue.

MS BURKE: You met with the caucuses or the staff?

MS LAMBE: We met with our contact person from each caucus.

MS BURKE: My recommendation is that it goes back to the caucus and they bring it forward.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay. My understanding is the people that reported were the caucus chairs, were the people you met with?

MS LAMBE: Each caucus was asked, as part of this review, to identify a representative from the caucus to deal and coordinate with Corporate and Members’ Services, and that is what each caucus has done. Now, we have had some discussion with caucus chairs, also.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: Yes, my comment is not around the fact that you have done that. It is the fact, now that you have the draft, I think it needs to go back. Because we are sitting here with all these questions and concerns that I think that further critical analysis needs to be done.

It is great that they were part of the process and were able to come up with this draft document, but with some of the comments here today, there are a lot of questions. I think, at this point, rather than us as the Management Commission to try to sort it out and answer the questions and define it, that I would like the input now, based on the draft from each caucus, that goes back in to help formulate – I guess refine the draft a bit more before it starts coming here. I do not think that is - for us, right now, I think there are a lot of people who understand this and who can look at it and provide that analysis, and that is where it needs to go right now.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, I agree. Do members have any other commentary on that?

It is probably the right place to have it put. There is a need to get it done because members want it done, and the longer we leave it there then members are more uncomfortable.

Yes, I think you are right. It should go back to the caucuses now with the recommendations and then members can come here, representatives from the other caucuses, to explain what is meant and why they thought that should be added into the suggestions.

Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes, and elaborate on the items, because it says here: meals and food services. Well, what does that mean? Does that mean we pay for people’s lunch everyday, or does that mean meals associated with late night sittings of caucus members and staff?

So, I would like to know, what meals are we paying for? We should not leave it wide open. We should be specific.

MR. SPEAKER: That is exactly what it was, but I understand the confusion there and that clarity is needed.

If there is no further commentary then we will redirect the suggestions here of the Caucus Operational Funding Grants and how they should be spent and the policy to each of the three parties. Hopefully, it will be brought back as suggestions or they make representation with their representatives on the Board of the Management Commission.

The next item on the agenda is the Records Management Policy. This, again, is in response to Chief Justice Green, and we are joined by Ms Hammond who structured this particular policy. If there are any comments or suggestions or further clarification, then by all means.

I will ask Ms Hammond to lead us into the policy, the reason it was put forward, and to give us the Reader’s Digest version of what is contained.

Ms Hammond.

MS HAMMOND: Chief Justice Green was critical of the deficiencies of records management practices in the House in his report and out of that we had done some studies and some initiatives to address the various records deficiencies in the House.

One of the things that we needed to do, based on the legislation and various international standards, was to create a framework policy that gives us some definition of how we should management our records in the House of Assembly. It is a framework to make sure that our records are reliable, usable and authentic. It gives us a scope and basic responsibilities of all the staff of the House with regards to managing the records of the House; the parliamentary records, the administrative records and the Management Commission records.

MR. SPEAKER: Comments?

If there are no comments, a motion is in order, and I will read the proposed motion, "Pursuant to subparagraph 20(6)(b)(ii) of the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act, the Commission adopts the Records Management Policy for the House of Assembly Service, effective April 1, 2009."

Is somebody willing to propose that motion?

MS E. MARSHALL: I would like to make a comment (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Okay.

Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: Records Management is not my area at all, so I really have to depend on the officials. It looks okay to me but I am not knowledgeable enough about the subject really to ask any in-depth questions. I understand from reading the document that you are required to adhere to certain standards that are generally accepted.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the Clerk have any commentary?

CLERK: No, not a lot.

I should say that Ms Hammond and her staff have done a lot of work on this. This policy document, which is nine pages, that is the policy piece, but there are various standards and resources that she has developed. These are listed in 5.2 of this policy on outgoing communication, electronic information protection, and these sorts of things. So there are various standards and guidelines developed that go beyond merely the policy that flesh out the various matters in that section.

I do not know, Ms Hammond, is there anything else you want to say on it? I, like you, am not the expert either on Information Management matters, but Ms Hammond is.

MS HAMMOND: I would just say that the guidelines are very prescriptive in how documents and communications are handled, and how they are managed and organized so that we can find them, so that we are responsive to ATIPP requests, so that they are held for an appropriate length of time, managed and basically findable where we have, in the past, experienced an inability to find records. Hopefully, in the future these will guide us and not have that situation again.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: Like Ms Marshall, this would not be an area that I would have any expertise or any experience in, but I guess my thoughts are right now that we needed a policy. We now have a policy and I am certainly supportive of approving the policy on the understanding it is based on best practices and government policies, and with the understanding that as we move through this, if this policy somehow does not seem to meet the standard or needs to be amended that it will come back at that time and we will deal with specific issues. Obviously, records management is something that we have been criticized for being lax on and that we need to move ahead in this area.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Hammond.

MS HAMMOND: I would just add that the standard is based on an international standard, but it is also based on the direction of the Information Management Division of the Office of the Chief Information Officer. So we are meeting or exceeding the standards that are set for the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. That is where we get our basis, and if there are any changes from OCIO policy then we would adopt, meet or exceed again any policies that they put forward.

MR. SPEAKER: If there is no further commentary and realizing the fact that we can always change the policy, can somebody make a motion? If a motion can be entertained to accept the action required that I just read into the record?

Motion put forward by Ms Marshall, seconded by Mr. Parsons.

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.

The Records Management Policy, as put forward by Ms Hammond and the Clerk, is accepted.

Motion carried.

MR. SPEAKER: The next item on the agenda is the Publication Scheme Amendment. I always have a problem with a scheme. Every time I hear that word I am wondering if we can come up with a different word. It is a situation where again, I guess the Publication Scheme, by subsection 49.1 of the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act as putting forward the minutes of the Commission and having them made public prior to the meeting.

I would ask the Clerk to lead us into this one, but it is my understanding that it was usually done at 9:00 in the morning. Judging by the fact that some of our meetings take part at 2:00 in the afternoon or even after the House of Assembly closes, we thought it only right and proper that we change the particular section and have the Publication Scheme made public fifteen minutes prior to the meeting, no matter when the meeting takes place, rather than have the minutes of the Commission meeting made available 9:00 in the morning, and a lot of times or in some cases the meeting does not start until probably 5:00 in the afternoon.

Further commentary? The Clerk may want to further expand on that to make it clearer.

CLERK: No, I think you have summarized it, Mr. Speaker. It really refers to the briefing materials that we are providing to the public and so on. We had anticipated, I guess perhaps foolishly, that most Commission meetings would start at 9:00 a.m., so we would provide this at 8:45 a.m. If we are not going to meet until 5:00 in the afternoon, I do not think it is proper to make this public eight hours ahead of even the Commission starting its deliberations. We said fifteen minutes before the meeting, that is the appropriate time to provide this to the media and the public. So, that is all this one is doing.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: The comment I have on that would be, after hearing the Clerk explain it, is that really what is going to happen, once we do the amendment to the Publication Scheme, is making it more restrictive, right?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: Well I think the Publication Scheme, as we now have it, was probably in error. We had not intended that the media or the public would have it eight hours ahead of the Commission’s meeting to deliberate. It was supposed to be fifteen minutes that the Commission sits and starts its meetings. We put this together, as you know, for members. We try to do it five or six days ahead of the meeting. We do not give it to the media then or the public either. I think the fifteen minutes – I mean you could argue whether they need it thirty minutes ahead of time, but I do not think it would be reasonable, in fact, it would be disrespectful to the Commission to give it out eight hours in advance, have it discussed on the radio or news or something before the Commission has even had a chance to discuss.

MS E. MARSHALL: Or it could be interpreted as, we put the Publication Scheme in place and now we are tightening it up and we are effectively shortening the time frame that the information is available to outside parties.

CLERK: Only when the meeting does not start at 9:00 a.m. If it starts at 9:00 a.m. then it is status quo.

MS E. MARSHALL: Right.

CLERK: It was really just not a precise way of putting it in from what our intention was. For this morning, for instance, the first reporter showed up at 8:15 and I gave him a binder then, fifteen minutes ahead of the in camera session. If we had not scheduled today’s meeting until 5:00 p.m., I guess we would still be providing that to him at 9:00 a.m. I mean it may be on the airwaves, newspaper and so on. So we simply had not intended to put it out publicly that much in advance.

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes, I understand that, but I am just thinking if I was not on the Commission and I was a member of the public, I look at the Publication Scheme and I know when the information is available. Now the rules are changing so that the material is not as available as it was for some meetings. I could interpret it as: well, you are tightening up the rules, right? I just want to alert you.

MR. SPEAKER: If it was 9:00 in the morning it would still be fifteen minutes early. If members want to make it half-an-hour or an hour, but we thought it was probably a little bit unfair to have the full agenda out eight, nine hours before the meeting took place. That it is up to members if they want to – if they feel that is fine, then that is great.

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes, I would be interested. Well, I have had my comments, yes.

MR. SPEAKER: Just suggestions.

Mr. Parsons.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Personally, I have no problem. I appreciate the logic, because a lot of times, albeit we have this binder of information and background materials, I take it that is what becomes public.

MR. SPEAKER: That is what becomes public.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: I do not think it is fair just to have it out there without the commentary from the Commission. I think that is what would obviously happen if we put it out there a day before, or eight hours before, or six hours before. I mean everything that is in here is a subject then of Open Line shows and TV before the Commission even got to give their comments on it. I think it is one thing to say that you disclose, which we are doing here, and you automatically and absolutely should disclose it, which we are doing, but going along with disclosure is a requirement that you explain what it is. I think it would be irresponsible of us to just put it out there without explanation because a lot of this stuff requires explanation. This is certainly not an attempt to keep the media or keep the public from having the information, but I think there is a responsible way to do it, and I think fifteen minutes or thirty minutes or whatever is reasonable.

MR. SPEAKER: Let’s refer back to some of the changes that we made here today with regard to members’ travel. Those are only suggestions put forward to get members thinking and to get member’s comments on what is acceptable and what is not.

If this meeting had taken place this afternoon and we put it out 9:00 this morning, would it be fair to have all members accused of travelling first-class on aircraft? It was a suggestion that was put forward but it was not acceptable. It was not accepted here. So that is what is wrong, as I see it, with having it out in the public domain a day before we make decisions, because for the most part it is suggestions and recommendations, but the Commission makes the decisions. It is certainly up to the Commission to decide.

Further commentary?

If not, somebody can make a motion either that we continue to do as the public scheme suggests, no matter when the meeting is put it out at 8:45 in the morning or to have the briefing notes posted no later than fifteen minutes before the start of a Commission meeting.

Mr. Parsons.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: I would make such a motion, Mr. Speaker, with the exception that instead of fifteen, it be thirty. Because you have to allow, if the media are going to be attending this, and I say the media, they want at least the opportunity to read it. I think saying fifteen minutes is not even time enough to read it, but thirty minutes would certainly permit anybody to read it. So at least then when the issues do get discussed after that thirty minutes, they are aware of them and have read it so they know the background.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the Commission amends section 1.3 of the Publication Scheme such that the on-line version of the Commission briefing materials will be posted not later than thirty minutes before the start of the Commission meeting.

Motion made by Mr. Parsons, seconded by Ms Burke.

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.

The motion is carried.

On motion, amendment adopted.

MR. SPEAKER: The final item on the agenda is from a member requesting that we extend the training period as we have agreed to for Constituency Assistants. This particular member has put forward the concern that he is a parliamentary assistant, and while we made the recommendation that replacement for constituency assistants would get one day training for members who have their offices in the Confederation Building, and two days training for members who have their constituency office in their constituency, this member feels that, in his situation, he is in a government department; the only other people who work there are department employees, and he does not have the opportunity to confer with people at the next desk in order to seek guidance and understanding.

He has also made a recommendation, or raised a concern, that his constituency assistant not only does constituency assistant duties for his district but also is expected to do work for him as a parliamentary assistant. He is asking that parliamentary assistants be provided for three days training for their replacements for their constituency assistants.

Commentary?

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: If constituency assistant replacements get two days training outside the Confederation Building, the situation described there is probably fairly similar to an outside office. I guess the intent, and I was not here when it was made but I would assume the intent was, when you have a pool of people working together there is more support available than there would be for somebody, say, over in my constituency office over in Stephenville. I could see the two days if it is for somebody who is required to work outside the pool of workers.

With regard to the third day of training, that is departmental responsibility and really the department should pick up that day for training.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes, my comments would be similar.

Actually, when I read the letter I made a note when the reference was to the additional day that really the House should not pay for that, it was departmental, and that it should really be the department to pay for it.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair is willing to accept a suggestion or a motion. What I am hearing is that we allow constituency assistants, parliamentary assistants, who are located within government departments, a two day training session for their constituency assistant replacements rather than one.

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: I would prefer to say it would be two days training for constituency assistants who do not work in the designated caucus areas.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay, and that would broaden it where you would not confine it to parliamentary assistants but –

MS BURKE: Right now it would only apply to parliamentary assistants, or a minister, I suppose, because a minister could have their CA in Confederation Building.

MR. SPEAKER: You would have other situations where I know there are other members located in – I know members who are not parliamentary assistants but they have their office down in the Natural Resources Building.

So, would we –

MS BURKE: Well, they would be in the same – that is why I was getting away from the parliamentary assistant part of it.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, I know.

MS BURKE: Because they would be as isolated, if they are not in the pool, as somebody who is over in the West Block, who is not in the pool.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

So the motion is that we allow a two day training program for constituency assistant replacements for all members whose offices are not located in the Opposition caucus area, the government caucus area, and the –

CLERK: We will find the wording.

MR. SPEAKER: We can find the right wording for it?

MS BURKE: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: That is the spirit of the motion?

MS BURKE: Right, because my thoughts are, we can say parliamentary assistants or secretaries now, but as soon as we make it that prescriptive someone is going to come back with an example as to where their office is, it is different, or provides the same level of isolation, not being within the pool.

That is the only reason why I would suggest that we make our definition a bit broader.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is clear; we just put the proper wording there.

Can somebody second that motion?

MS E. MARSHALL: I will second it.

MR. SPEAKER: Seconded by Ms Marshall.

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.

The motion is carried.

That concludes today’s Management Commission meeting.

I thank all members for their presence and their co-operation and their input. I thank the staff who have made themselves available for their expertise in providing us with some guidance and clarification on the items discussed.

I will now entertain a motion to adjourn.

Made by Ms Marshall, seconded by Mr. Parsons, that this meeting be now adjourned.

On motion, meeting adjourned.