December 14, 2011 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY MANAGEMENT COMMISSION No. 32
The Management Commission met at 10:00 a.m. in the House of Assembly Chamber.
MR. SPEAKER (Wiseman): Good morning, everyone.
We are now ready to start the first meeting of the House of Assembly Management Commission for this Forty-Seventh General Assembly. I welcome all of you here.
To help the process along we will do some introductions first, for the purpose of the media centre and those who may be viewing. My name is Ross Wiseman; I am the Speaker of the House of Assembly and the MHA for the District of Trinity North, and I Chair the House of Assembly Management Commission.
I will ask my colleagues to introduce themselves, starting with Mr. Ball on my left.
MR. BALL: Dwight Ball, MHA for the District of Humber Valley.
MS JONES: Yvonne Jones, MHA for the District of Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair.
MR. VERGE: Wade Verge, MHA for the District of Lewisporte, Deputy Speaker and observer on the committee.
MR. K. PARSONS: Kevin Parsons, MHA for the District of Cape St. Francis.
MS BURKE: Joan Burke, MHA for St. George's-Stephenville East.
MS MICHAEL: Lorraine Michael, MHA, Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.
MR. KENNEDY: Jerome Kennedy, MHA, Carbonear-Harbour Grace, Government House Leader.
MS LAMBE: Marlene Lambe, Chief Financial Officer.
CLERK: Bill MacKenzie, Clerk.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.
We have an addition to that.
MS KEEFE: Marie Keefe, Clerk's Office.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you very much.
A few housekeeping things: the media centre; my microphone is kept on throughout the entire meeting and the other microphones will be turned on as speakers are acknowledged. To help facilitate that process, what I would ask you to do, if you are interested in making a comment, participating in the debate on any issue, if you could just nod or signal with your hand and I will acknowledge you then. The media centre can turn on your microphone, Hansard can record you, and everybody can hear you.
Before we started this open public session of the meeting of the House of Assembly Management Commission we met in camera. There were two issues that were dealt with; they were budgetary in nature. I will just, for the record, indicate that the Commission has approved a pre-commitment of funds for the 2012-2013, 2013-2014, and the 2014-2015 budget appropriations for consulting services for the purposes of providing a management certification for the House of Assembly's financial audits.
The second issue dealt with in camera was: the Commission has also approved a pre-commitment of funds for 2012-2013, 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 budget appropriations for the audit services for the Office of the Auditor General. Those two items are a requirement built in legislation - the government's - both the House and the Office of the Auditor General. These appropriations will allow for RFPs to be issued for auditing services, for both those services to be provided for the House and the Auditor General respectively. Once that process in concluded, the Commission will report back to the body here with the dollar amounts associated with these appropriations. That was the first item of business dealt with by the Commission.
The second order of business we are dealing with today would be members will have that identified in their agendas as item 2, and it deals with the minutes of the last meeting of the Commission which was held on June 7, 2011. Members of the Commission have a copy of the minutes that have been circulated. There being no errors or omissions, I will entertain a motion for the acceptance of them as they have been circulated. I will give members a few moments.
Are there any errors or omissions?
There being none, I will entertain a motion to accept them as circulated.
Moved by Ms Burke, seconded by Ms Michael.
All those in favour, aye'.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.
MR. SPEAKER: Motion carried.
On motion, minutes adopted as circulated.
MR. SPEAKER: The next item of business is found in item 3. These are two items that require both the Speaker and the Clerk of the House to report back to the Commission. There are some provisions within the Rules and Procedures dealing with Members' Resources and Allowances that in between sessions of the meetings of the Commission the Speaker has an ability to approve certain allowances. One of those deals with the allowances made for constituency offices.
The provision for constituency offices is built into the current legislation. The allowance provides for a $7,000 total, that is $6,140 plus HST, for members to lease office space in their constituencies should they wish. We found in the past, that allowance may not always cover and reflect the market conditions. We had such an event between this meeting and the last one of the Commission.
In the Bay of Islands district, the newly elected member needed new accommodations. There was a proposal sought; the lowest one we received was for $12,012. These are temporary accommodations that will be occupied by the Member for Bay of Islands until a tendering process is initiated, which will be starting some time early in the New Year. The amount in question here was $12,012. The Speaker has authorized the leasing of that space at that rate. I am reporting back to the Commission to that effect.
The second item under this I am sorry?
MS MICHAEL: Could I just make a point, please?
MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael.
MS MICHAEL: I would just like to make a point, not about Mr. Joyce's application but in general, and this may not be the appropriate time. I think it is appropriate in terms of the content, and you can make a judgment. I remember over the last three years we had to have many applications for space because the amount of money that is allotted is definitely not meeting the need. I think it would be really interesting for the Commission to have an analysis done of how many times we have had to do this. We may have to look at the whole thing of the office accommodation allotment being too low. My memory is we have had to do this many, many times, or the Speaker has had to do this many, many times. I am thinking it would be good for us to get a report on how often this is monitored, because we may have to look I make that suggestion.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Ms Michael.
You are absolutely right. There is a profile and we will table it for members at the next meeting of the Commission. Members who have leased space, more than half of those leases have gone over that $7,000. The timing might be appropriate now that, as a part of this new Assembly, within the first six months of this Assembly, we will be appointing a committee to look at members' allowances and resources. This could be a very focused discussion for that group.
We also now have the benefit of some history where we have had a number of tenders and we are now in the process of tendering new space. In the coming months, we will have a lot of accurate information that reflects current market conditions that will help inform that committee's piece of work and, no doubt, it will be one of the things that they will want to make a recommendation on for us. Your point is well made.
MS MICHAEL: Great. Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: The second item in this agenda item deals with the same type of issue. This time it was an area where the Members' Resources and Allowances Rules make a provision for the Clerk to make decisions on some issues in between meetings of the Commission. We have a circumstance here where the former Member for Labrador West, under the rental vehicle expenditure heading, needed to have a vehicle rented while here in St. John's on constituency business for an additional three days beyond the fifteen consecutive that is allowed. The Clerk has dealt with this and has provisions for in the Rules. We are reporting back to the Commission that it has been dealt with by the Clerk and the claim has been paid.
Are there any comments or questions in addition to Ms Michael's comments about the earlier discussion around the space allocations? Are there any additional comments on these two items? These are here for information purposes.
The next item of business is an area that again deals with the issues of allowances and compensation for MHAs. Under this agenda item there are five different notes in your documents. They all deal with letters of appeal where members have submitted expense claims and the office of Corporate and Members' Services have denied the claims, and all for the same reason: They exceeded the sixty-day submission deadline. As we are aware, claims have to be made within a sixty-day time period to be eligible for payment.
There are two things that stand out on all five of these that make them similar. One is that all of them are rejected because they were beyond the sixty-day time frame; secondly, they have all been reviewed by the Corporate and Members' Services Division and all deemed to be eligible expenses had they been submitted within the sixty days. The Commission has been asked now, through the appeal process, to consider the appeal requests from each of the individual members. We will deal with them in a sequence. The first one we will deal with is the request from the Member for Trinity - Bay de Verde with respect to
MR. KENNEDY: Excuse me -
MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Kennedy.
MR. KENNEDY: The principle is the same: They are all eligible for reimbursement, they were outside the sixty-day limit, and that is why we are here.
MR. SPEAKER: Yes.
MS MICHAEL: Another point on that, which I think we need clarification on. In the letter from the Speaker, each time the letter points out: Given the provisions of subsection 7(6) of the Rules, it is not possible for me to state that the expenditures are in compliance with the Rule, therefore the next step is to come to the House Management Commission - which I understand, but the letter from the Speaker never says why it is not in compliance. It does not state whether it is because it is an ineligible expense or whether it is because it is outside of the time limit. Then, when you look at the piece of legislation that rules us as a Commission, which is in the Briefing Note, each of these has the same thing.
Subsection 9, which is on the second page of the Briefing Note, says that we have to determine that the expense is a permitted expense. So, somewhere, I think we need to know what the expense actually is covering. In two cases, in the five, the letter of explanation does not say what their expense was covering. I think we need to know that as a Commission. Ms Johnson's is one and I think the other is Mr. Brazil. They do not say what the expense was for, yet we are supposed to know that it is an eligible expense. Yet, the letter from the Speaker says it is not eligible under the Rule. So, I have a problem approving something where the explanation does not tell me what the expense was for.
MR. SPEAKER: It is a good point you raise, Ms Michael. The Commission has been asked to rely on the Briefing Note that has been provided and prepared by officials. Just underneath that reference you made to subsection 9, you will notice a bullet that starts off with: The expenses submitted That bullet clarifies that the expenses submitted are permitted expenses under the Members' Resources and Allowances Rules.
In the ordinary course of processing these claims, as we all would recognize, members would submit their claims to the Corporate and Members' Services Division and they would adjudicate and determine whether or not it is eligible. What we have done here is that same thing. We have asked the officials that do the administration of these claims to review them, to adjudicate on their eligibility subject, obviously, to the provision of sixty days and they have determined that they are eligible, as they would in any other course of events of administering these claims. That is why the Briefing Note reflects their comment, as prepared by the officials.
I guess in the normal course of managing claims we rely on these officials to review them and agree that they are or are not eligible and payment is made based on their adjudication. Are you asking whether or not the Commission should also rely on those same people's adjudication, or are you suggesting that maybe the Commission should adjudicate them themselves? Are you suggesting that you would prefer that the Commission adjudicate rather than having the officials adjudicate as they normally do?
MS MICHAEL: I guess what I am saying is because it gets brought to the Commission, perhaps we should have the full information then; I guess that is the point I am making. If it does not have to be brought to the Commission, I am satisfied with the process. Once it is brought to the Commission, maybe the full explanation should be given. Sometimes the member's letters do say what it is for, and three of these five do and the other two do not. I know it is not a requirement that they do, but I think it just makes it more open because it has been brought to the public sector, that is all. I do not know if others agree with me. I do not think it is a lot to ask because, eventually, it comes out in our statement of claims anyway; everything comes out in our expense claims. It is just because, at this point, it is being brought to the public dimension that is why I thought perhaps we should just ask that the letters say what exactly the expense was for, for total clarification.
MR. SPEAKER: Are there any other comments?
MS JONES: I do have an issue with that. I think it is only appropriate that you indicate what the expense is. In terms of dealing with the appeal for the Member for Trinity Bay de Verde, I think the Briefing Note does outline that the reason the appeal is before us is because it has expired the sixty days, so it certainly does not speak to the fact that it was not a legitimate expense. Personally, I do not have a problem with approving it as it is today, but, in the future, maybe we should be instructing members to outline what that expense is.
MR. SPEAKER: Any other comment?
MS MICHAEL: Just to say, yes, I, too, will approve this today and I am mentioning it for further requests.
MR. SPEAKER: That is a good point. We will duly note, in the future, that we will bring that forward with the notes themselves.
Are there any other questions before I call for the motion?
There being no further discussion we have two options: to approve them or not I will entertain a motion to move forward and to approve the payment of the expenses as submitted by the Member for Trinity - Bay de Verde.
MR. KENNEDY: So moved.
MR. SPEAKER: Moved by Mr. Kennedy; seconded by Ms Jones.
The second note deals with The Straits White Bay North. Again, as I said in the introduction, a similar circumstance where the officials in the Corporate and Members' Services Division have reviewed and determined that the claim includes legitimate expenses and ordinarily would be reimbursed, had they been submitted within the sixty-day time period. The appeal here is to the Commission to consider payment outside of the sixty-day deadline.
Are there any questions or comments?
There being none, I will entertain a motion, again, to pay the expenses to the former Member for The Straits White Bay North in the amount of $102.67.
MS JONES: So moved.
MR. SPEAKER: Moved by Ms Jones; seconded by Mr. Kennedy.
The third is a claim from the Member for Conception Bay East Bell Island. Again, it is a similar circumstance: beyond the sixty-day deadline. As we note from the submission, the expenses meet the eligibility requirements for reimbursement.
Are there any questions or comments?
There being none, I will entertain a motion to pay the expense there are two claims in this particular note. One claim is in the amount of $685 and the second claim is in the amount of $364.67.
MS JONES: Just picking up on Ms Michael's comment from the previous claim, again, this one does not outline what the actual expense is.
MR. SPEAKER: It has been duly noted. Your comment from the previous discussion indicated that in this instance here today everybody has a comfort level with moving forward and dealing with them, but in the future that these would be recorded in the notes that come forward in terms of what they represent.
With that said, I will entertain a motion on this one here as well for Conception Bay East Bell Island.
MS JONES: So moved.
MR. SPEAKER: Moved by Ms Jones; seconded by Mr. Kennedy.
The forth one is for the Member for St. George's Stephenville East; again, the same circumstance: Expenses are eligible for reimbursement and the sixty-day submission deadline is the issue under appeal.
Are there any questions or comments?
There being none, I will entertain a motion.
MS MICHAEL: So moved.
MR. SPEAKER: Moved by Ms Michael and seconded by Mr. Kennedy that we would pay the amount.
Now, the fifth one under this heading is from my office. I will remove myself from the Chair and I will ask my colleague, the Member for Lewisporte, to sit in the Chair for this motion.
CHAIR (Verge): Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Again, we are just following in line here. It is one other appeal that has been submitted past the sixty-day deadline. The expense claim has been ruled by the people in Corporate and Members' Services to be ineligible, submitted by the Member for Trinity North. So, I would entertain a motion that this appeal be approved.
MR. K. PARSONS: So moved.
CHAIR: Moved by Mr. Parsons; seconded by Ms Michael.
I will pass the Chair back to Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER (Wiseman): Thank you, Mr. Verge.
Okay, the next item on the agenda is the financial reports. The Audit Committee of the Commission would have met on September 14. They have reviewed the statements that have been prepared by the Auditor General as he has audited the accounts of the House of Assembly. He has provided the financial statements, it has been reviewed by the Audit Committee, and their recommendation is that this Commission would approve and sign off on the financial information that has been provided to us in these statements. These are of March 31, 2011 and they reflect the review by the Auditor General's office of the accounts of the House of Assembly.
The information contained in these, particularly those around the expenditures and revenues, would have been reviewed by the Commission as a part of their financial review completed in June of 2011. The other components of it, obviously, the assets and liabilities, would not have been reviewed at that time. In addition to this, embedded in this statement as well is the management certification that was signed by the Clerk. You will recall in the first item on the agenda today we dealt with the auditing service for the certification process. That is the process that facilitates the signature of the Clerk on the certification letter that is embedded in the statements. I will open the floor for any discussion, or questions, or comments about the statements.
MS MICHAEL: The statement looks fine. Obviously, I think the audit is all in order. It is just a question of information under note 3, accounts receivable. Under the accounts receivable there is an amount of money that is due from Judgment Enforcements from former Members of the House of Assembly. Then there are other amounts due from Judgment Enforcements. Then there was some amount due from double billings from former Members of the House of Assembly, which came to just over $3 million. Then it is less: the allowance for doubtful accounts, which is almost $2.5 million. I would just like an explanation of the allowance for doubtful accounts, even though we are not doing the auditing here, just one more report from the Clerk maybe with regard to the status of amounts due from Judgment Enforcements.
MR. SPEAKER: Yes, I would ask the Clerk if he would provide an update to the Commission.
CLERK: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I might have to turn to Ms Lambe, our Chief Financial Officer, for some of this. To go to the double billings matter, because that has been looked at by this Commission in the past, these numbers are as of March 31, 2011 for instance. Subsequently, this last remaining amount has been paid. All double billings were repaid during the forty-sixth Assembly except for the ones noted above due from Judgment Enforcements. Those four individuals also had double billings and we are slowly retrieving that money with the assistance of the Office of the Comptroller General, so we are not dealing with them directly. All other members have repaid all the double billings. I will turn to Ms Lambe to explain the allowance for doubtful accounts, if she would.
MR. SPEAKER: All of the double billings have been repaid since the conclusion of these statements.
MR. SPEAKER: Next year's statements will reflect the nil balance here.
CLERK: Yes, where it says: double billings, former members, zero; but some are included up above in the Due from Judgment Enforcements.
MS LAMBE: Yes, the allowance for doubtful accounts, as you know, is the same amount as the receivable other amounts due from Judgment Enforcements. Again, the amount is determined by the Comptroller General's office because they are dealing with the recovery of those amounts. Of course, it relates to the supplier, John Hand, who was convicted in court for these over billings, and that was the amount that was determined that he owes. The Office of the Comptroller General determined that an allowance for doubtful accounts should be set up for that. Basically, it is saying they do not expect to recover it.
MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.
Are there any further questions or comments?
There being none, I will entertain a motion, and a motion we are looking to receive today would obviously be that the Commission would approve and sign the financial statements prepared by the Auditor General reflecting the period ending March 31, 2011.
MS MICHAEL: So moved.
MR. SPEAKER: It has been moved by Ms Michael, seconded by Ms Jones.
I need to sign these, my signature and one other member of the Commission. Mr. Ball, maybe you could affix your signature, with the authority of the Commission based on that motion?
The next item of business; there is a requirement that this Commission would review on, at least a quarterly basis, the financial performance of the House of Assembly and all of the actual expenditures of members by district and by individual, approved as per their allocation. The Commission has not met since its meeting in June, so under this heading we have a number of reports. The first period in question is the period from April 1, 2011, which is the first of the fiscal year, up to the end of June 30, which is the first quarter. The first set of statements you have will show the statements with all of the revenues and expenditures for both the House of Assembly and its Statutory Offices. That is one of the pieces of information included in here.
The second piece of information included in here is listed by MHA, their statements, individual members' statements of their expenditures based on their allocations for that same period of time. You have the summary of the financial information for the House itself - that excludes the Office of the Auditor General - and then the subsequent statements for each member of the House of Assembly. In addition to that, as we move further along under this heading, we also have the financial reports from the period of April 1, 2011 and summarized to the end of September, which would have been the second quarter. Again, you have been provided with two things; one, the financial performance of the Legislature itself and, secondly, the approved allocations and actual expenditures of each member of the House of Assembly covering that same period. In the ordinary course of business we would review these one at a time as the Commission would meet, and now with the Commission reconstituted we will continue to do this in the future.
In addition to that, you also have a third piece of information here that takes us up to the end of November. Now the first two you might note covered two quarters, April to June, and then to the end of September. This last one you note is from April 1, 2011 to November 30, so it is not quite the end of the third quarter. That information will not be available until the end of December and the Commission will deal with that statement at its next regular meeting.
The briefing note you are looking at with respect to this period in question, April 1, 2011 to November 30, indicates that it is a review of the financial performance of the Legislature and also the approved allocations, but that is an error. The approved allocations are not summarized under this heading. They will be included with the next report because that will be a quarterly report. What you have here now is a summary of the financial performance of the Legislature. To help members prepare for the discussion we will have in January as we talk about our next year's budget, this financial report also includes the projected savings or forecasted overruns in each of the operating budget categories to the end of the year. That is a forecast figure reflecting the feeling that this is where we will be as of the end of March 31, 2012 in each of those expenditure items. This information, as I have said, is being provided for review by the Commission and for information consistent with the guidelines under the legislation that requires us to review these at least quarterly.
Are there any questions or comments on any of these reports?
The next item we will deal with is we have a request for some adjustments in transfers of budget allocations from one category to the other. There are two of them we are going to deal with today. The first one comes about as a result of the election that was held in October, 2011. The standings in the House of Assembly by party are different today than it was prior to the election in October. As we are all aware, there are allowances that are made available to each caucus in the House of Assembly. Those allowances are calculated based on the number of members in each caucus. So the allocation that would have been done at Budget time last year reflected the allocation and the standing in the House at that time. Because it changed in October, we now need to make some adjustments in the allowances allocated to each party caucus. You may recall the Commission at an earlier meeting had made the decision that when by-elections happen you do not make adjustments, but when general elections happen we make adjustments. The officials have made a calculation based on the time period from October 11 through to the end of March 31, 2012 as to what would need to be adjusted and what movement would have to occur from one caucus to the other to reflect the current allocation within the House. This note requests a transfer of funds between three different caucus accounts.
What we are suggesting is in order to now adjust the Budget forecast to reflect the current day reality and the composition of the House of Assembly we would need to move some $31,100 from Budget subdivision 1.1.06.01, which was the Government Members Caucus Salaries, to take $31,100 from that account. In addition to that, take $3,600 from Government Members Caucus Grants and Subsidies account, and in addition to that, take another $26,900 from the Administrative Support Purchased Services category in the Budget, take it from those categories and move it to the Official Opposition Caucus Salaries account and to the Third Party Caucus Salaries account. The proposal is that $20,500 would move to the Official Opposition Caucus Salaries account, and $41,100 would move to the Third Party Caucus Salaries. That would adjust the Budget forecast to reflect the current composition.
Are there any questions?
MS MICHAEL: Just a correction I think should be made for the record to the briefing note under bullet three: The Third Party Caucus has been increased by two private members. I think that should read four private members, which would explain the $41,100.
AN HON. MEMBER: Mine says four.
MS MICHAEL: Mine says two. The Official Opposition says two.
MR. SPEAKER: Oh, I am sorry. I have been advised by officials that there was a new note sent out.
MS MICHAEL: Oh, I have not received that. I have not been upstairs; that is probably why.
MR. SPEAKER: Okay.
Does anyone else have the old one? Because the new one will reflect by four members.
MS MICHAEL: Okay, thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you for bringing that to our attention, but it was corrected in the revised note.
Are there any questions or comments with respect to that accounting adjustment that we need to make?
There being none, I need a motion to reflect the request here and the motion would need to reflect the various subheads, as described in our note, so as to provide clear direction to officials as to what categories to move the funds from.
I will entertain a motion.
MS MICHAEL: So moved.
MR. SPEAKER: Moved by Ms Michael; seconded by Ms Jones.
The second request for a budget transfer comes from the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. He has made an ask of the Commission to permit him to move $58,000 from one budget area to another to accommodate the salary overruns that he is experiencing for two individuals that he has hired. Back in 2008, the office hired an administrative officer to assist with the administrative function of the office. That position was not budgeted at the time, but the Office of the Privacy Commissioner was able to find some savings elsewhere in his budget to pay for the salary up to this particular point. Secondly, in 2009-2010, there was an analyst hired for maternity leave relief. When the maternity leave was over, the person hired for the relief continued to work and stayed with the office to assist with the workload.
Again, up until this point, the office has been able to cover the salary costs associated with that from savings in other budget categories. The Privacy Commissioner finds himself now in a spot where these two individuals are still there and there is not enough flexibility in the remaining part of the office's budget to cover their salaries to the end of the year, so he is asking permission to transfer money from a couple of different budget categories into the salary budget to allow for the payment of these individuals until the end of the year. That is the thrust of the request.
Is there any discussion?
MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I have problems with the way this has been done in continuing unfunded positions with savings for a period of time, especially for 2008 and 2009-2010. The way it should have been done, they should come forward in the Budget process to seek the positions; however, having said that, we are in the position that we are in right now and the Commissioner needs to maintain these positions to the end of the fiscal year.
My question would be - and I would be willing to look at the approval of this transfer - is the Commissioner planning to come forward in the Budget request this year to seek permanent funding for these positions so that they are either funded positions or they do not exist? That is a key issue in terms of how we do things in government.
MR. SPEAKER: Based on my discussion I have had with the Commissioner about his upcoming Budget request and based on what he has already submitted, that is his intention.
MR. KENNEDY: My rationale would be if we did not approve this now, then we would have two people who would presumably be laid off. Then he comes forward in the Budget request and if it is approved in the Budget, well then these people could move elsewhere or they may not be available; whereas, if we approve this now, there is continuity in his office. If it is approved in the Budget, fair enough, then these people are there. If it is not approved in the Budget, well then at least these people have a better knowledge of where they are going. I think the caveat from my perspective would have to be that he comes forward in the Budget process seeking permanent funding for these positions, so we do not find ourselves next year in that same situation again.
MR. SPEAKER: Any other comments?
As I have said, I understand from the Commissioner and, in fact, based on what he has submitted, indications are that will be the case. So we will have an opportunity to discuss his budget in full in January when we get together and those two positions are requested as permanent funding in that Budget process.
There being no other comments, I would entertain a motion to proceed and to transfer the funding from and the note that you have in front of you; officials have identified where the transfers could occur, from what categories and what subdivisions within the budget allocation to the salary piece. So, I would entertain a motion to reflect the approval to allow the transfers to occur from the four subdivisions identified in the note here to the salary component of the office's budget.
MR. KENNEDY: So moved.
MR. SPEAKER: Moved by Mr. Kennedy; seconded by Ms Michael.
The next item on the agenda, as a part of the funding allocation that occurs to the various caucuses, there is caucus operational funding grants that is provided to each caucus. One of the requirements in providing that allowance to each of the caucuses is that there is a reporting. In your documents here, you have the reports that have been submitted by the Speaker's office, the government members' caucus, the Official Opposition caucus and the Third Party caucus. These are information notes and are providing the Commission with the summary of expenditures from each of those caucus funds for the period of April 1, 2010 to the period of March 31, 2011. These are being provided in response to the requirements as laid down in the policies governing the caucus fund.
You might recall back in 2010 I think it was, the Commission approved a set of policy guidelines as to how these expenditures would be made and the manner in which they would be reported and the format. These reports that are submitted here comply with the format as decreed in that policy statement.
Are there questions or comments with respect to the reports? There being none, thank you.
The final item of business, there is an Audit Committee; we heard a reference to it earlier when we talked about the statements prepared by the Auditor General. The recommendation that came to the Commission came from the Audit Committee. The Audit Committee is made up of two members of this Commission together with two individuals who are appointed by the Chief Justice.
Chief Justice Green has appointed two individuals: Janet Gardiner, chartered accountant, and Gail Hamilton who is also a chartered accountant. He has appointed those two individuals to be on the Audit Committee. It is the Commission's responsibility now by way of a motion to do two things. One is to approve two members to this Audit Committee; and second, to appoint a Chair of the Audit Committee.
Now the rules governing the composition of this Committee also dictate that one of the members to be nominated by this Commission and from this Commission is to represent the government's side of the Legislature and the second member will represent the Opposition side of the Legislature.
In order to facilitate this process now, I will entertain a nomination for two members recognizing the composition required. I will entertain nominations that would be made to be nominated and seconded for two individuals from this Commission to sit on the Audit Committee. I will open the floor.
MR. KENNEDY: Mr. Chair, I nominate Mr. Parsons from the government side. Also, I do note that it says the Commission shall designate the nomination for the Chair. Will I do that now and nominate Mr. Parsons as Chair, or would that be separately?
MR. SPEAKER: We will deal with the membership first and then we will come back to the Chair.
Is Mr. Parsons seconded?
MS BURKE: Seconded
MR. SPEAKER: Ms Burke.
MR. BALL: I nominate Yvonne Jones.
MR. SPEAKER: Ms Jones, seconded by Ms Burke.
We have two members nominated. No further nominations? No voting necessary.
Ms Jones and Mr. Parsons will sit on the Audit Committee representing this Commission.
We have four members on the Commission; we now need a person to Chair that Audit Committee. I will open the floor for nominations for the position of Chair.
MR. KENNEDY: Mr. Chair, I nominate Mr. Parsons as the Chair of the Audit Committee.
MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Parsons has been nominated, seconded by Ms Burke.
Are there any other nominations?
There being none, Mr. Parsons you are the Chair of the Audit Committee. Congratulations.
That concludes the agenda has been circulated. The intent would be obviously, as I said in the introduction, this was the first meeting of the Commission for this forty-seventh Assembly. Now that the election is over, we will be in a better position to get back on a regular rotation and having these on a regular scheduled basis.
We do have a couple pieces of business that we need to deal with early in the New Year. I made a reference earlier to the budget of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, but we have the budgets of the Statutory Offices that we have to deal with in January to tie in with the overall budget process for government and to get the budget request into the House of Assembly. The second is we have a request from Ms Michael with respect to the resource allocation to her party and that the Commission needs to deal with early in the New Year. Background information to help inform that discussion will be circulated to members shortly to help us inform that discussion we will have early in the New Year; so there are two things.
What I am proposing is we would set aside a day in January where we would come together and deal with the two issues. Based on the submissions made by the Statutory Offices on their budgets, there is a belief that we should be able to get through those within half a day. They are not huge changes from what we currently have dealt with in past budgets, so we should be able to accommodate that in half a day and then schedule the Commission's meeting in the other half of that same day, to come together in January. I know some members of the Commission have some travel commitments at the end of January. I am asking that we try to set this meeting up for no later than the third week in January to do this. When the meeting adjourns we will just informally take a couple of minutes to firm up that date and then the officials can start doing the necessary preparation work in putting together the documents for that.
MR. KENNEDY: It would be easy from my perspective - because we have committee meetings, we have the EPC, Social Policy, and Treasury Board. There are various meetings. It would probably be easier for two half days as opposed to finding a full day.
MR. SPEAKER: Okay.
MR. KENNEDY: I don't know if anyone else has any I am cognizant of travel commitments and all of that.
MR. SPEAKER: Ms Burke.
MS BURKE: I agree with what the member just said, but if there is going to be a full day, Wednesday is the easiest day to get a full day because of Cabinet commitments and committee commitments.
MR. KENNEDY: Yes, Wednesday would be -
MS JONES: I am suggesting either January 18 or January 25.
MR. SPEAKER: Okay.
MS MICHAEL: I have a number of meetings on January 18; the twenty-fifth is clear.
MR. SPEAKER: I am hearing from three individuals January 25, and I am hearing that if we are going to do it on a full day we would do it on a Wednesday. Because of other commitments of committees of Cabinet it is problematic.
Is January 25 on a Wednesday?
MS BURKE: Yes.
MR. SPEAKER: Let's set January 25 to be our next meeting of the Commission. We will block a day to do that and we will sequence it so we will deal with the budgetary issues in the first half of that day and we will deal with the issues of members' resource allocations in the second half. That gives us lots of time for officials to prepare the necessary documentation to help inform our discussion.
I want to thank each and every one of you for your commitment to the Commission and for this first meeting. I look forward to working with you through this Forty-Seventh Assembly in dealing with the affairs of the Legislature.
I want to take advantage of this opportunity as well to wish each and every one of you and your families seasons greetings. I hope you enjoy your Christmas season and I look forward to a very prosperous New Year working with all of you. Thank you very much indeed.
That being said, I understand we follow the Standing Orders, so I will entertain a motion for adjournment.
MS MICHAEL: So moved.
MR. SPEAKER: Moved by Ms Michael.
This Commission stands adjourned until January 25, 2012.
Thank you all very much.
On motion, meeting adjourned.