September 18, 2012           HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY MANAGEMENT COMMISSION           No. 36

The Management Commission met at 2:00 p.m. in the House of Assembly Chamber.

MR. SPEAKER (Wiseman): Good afternoon, everyone.

This is a meeting of the House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador Management Commission. We are going to first of all introduce the members who are attending the meeting.

My name is Ross Wiseman, Speaker of the House and Chair of the Commission.

To my left –

MS JONES: Yvonne Jones, MHA for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair.

MR. KENNEDY: Jerome Kennedy, MHA for Carbonear – Harbour Grace.

MR. GRANTER: Vaughn Granter, MHA for Humber West.

MR. VERGE: Wade Verge, MHA for Lewisporte district.

MS BURKE: Joan Burke, MHA, St. George's – Stephenville East.

MS MICHAEL: Lorraine Michael, MHA, Signal Hill – Quidi Vidi.

MR. BALL: Dwight Ball, MHA, Humber Valley.

MS BARNES: Sandra Barnes, Clerk of the House of Assembly.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you; and welcome back after our summer recess.

Just to help facilitate the Broadcast Centre in broadcasting this event, I will ask members – my microphone is open all the time. I would ask members, when they go to speak, I will acknowledge them and their microphones will be turned on then, live for the broadcast.

Everybody has a copy of their agenda and the agenda items that we are going to be dealing with today. The first item on the agenda is – we had a brief in camera discussion that we will deal with under Tab 7, but the first item we are going to deal with is under Tab 2 which is the minutes of the meeting of the Commission of July 4, 2012. Everybody has had a chance to review them. I will entertain a motion to adopt them as circulated.

MS JONES: So moved.

MR. SPEAKER: Moved by Ms Jones, seconded by Ms Michael.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.


On motion, minutes adopted as circulated.

MR. SPEAKER: There are a couple of items under this tab as well for updates for the Commission. As members are aware, there are some areas of expenditures that the Speaker has some authority to deal with in between meetings of the Commission, as well as the Clerk has some authority to deal with some areas of expenditure between meetings. The Speaker dealt with one of those since our last meeting.

You will note that there is approval provided for the Member for Humber Valley to have rented space in his district for his constituency office and an amount that exceeded the maximum allowable of $7,000. As normal practice, there is a tendering process. As we have found in many cases in the past, the current allocation of $7,000 is not enough to cover the current market conditions. We have been providing the approval for the Speaker's office to have those leases signed and executed. I am reporting now to the Commission that this one was signed in the amount of $9,888 annually, excluding HST. That was the lowest proposal received.

Also, with the authority that the Clerk has, the Clerk has approved expenditures dealing with constituency offices; one for the Member for Bonavista South, some office furnishings for a dollar value of $9, and the District of Port au Port, an amount for $292.44 for office equipment. These items are for the Commission's information, and we do not need a decision on.

Under Tab 3 we have an Audit Committee appointed by the Commission. There are two members of the Commission who sit on that Audit Committee, together with two individuals from the public. As a result of a change in the Commission composition, we now need a new chairperson to be appointed for that committee. Mr. Parsons, who was here, was the former chair. I will entertain a motion now to have someone appointed as Chair of the Audit Committee.

Mr. Kennedy?

MR. KENNEDY: Mr. Speaker, I nominate Mr. Granter.

Is he currently on the Audit Committee replacing Mr. Parsons?

MR. SPEAKER: He is, yes.

MR. KENNEDY: I would nominate him to be the Chair of the Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: Seconded by Ms Burke.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.


Motion carried.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay, thank you.

Now, under Tab 4 we have two letters of appeal from MHAs who had submitted their expense claims and they exceeded the sixty-day submission deadline, and as normal process they then need to appeal through my office to the Commission to have their claims paid.

These are expense claims that are legitimate in that the items they are seeking reimbursement for are items that ordinarily they would be entitled to be reimbursed. The issue at hand here is that they submitted them beyond the sixty-day deadline, and they are asking us to provide direction to the House of Assembly staff to process these claims and pay them as they are submitted for their eligible expenditures.

We will deal with one of them at a time. The first one is a claim from the Member for Conception Bay East – Bell Island. His claim is in the amount of $60, and he asking the Commission to direct the officials to pay such claim.

I will entertain a motion to that effect.

MR. KENNEDY: So moved.

MR. SPEAKER: Moved by Mr. Kennedy, seconded by Mr. Ball.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.


Motion carried.

MR. SPEAKER: The second such claim we have is a letter of appeal from the Member for Lake Melville, a similar circumstance. Again, the expenditures that are being claimed are legitimate expenses. The issue at hand is the submission deadline. The request here is that we would pay the claim in the amount of $666.84.

I will entertain a motion to that effect.

MS MICHAEL: So moved.

MR. SPEAKER: Moved by Ms Michael; seconded by Ms Burke.

All those in favour?


Motion carried.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay, thank you.

We have the financial statements under Tab 5. The Commission has the responsibility to review the financial performance of the House of Assembly, which includes various functions within the House together with the statutory offices, as well as the claims by individual members of the House. Their summaries are attached under this tab. This is an information note and provides information. At the same time, obviously if there are some questions of clarity, then we would want to entertain them and provide that necessary clarification.

Then we get into the next tab after this or the tab that – Tab 7 a little later on when we deal with the transfer of money. You can see here where the expenditures are going to be occurring under the House of Assembly by Hansard and the Broadcast Centre. The money in question under that tab is coming up under this item here. You can see the expenditure; the deficit reported here of $179,000 reflects expenditures associated with that expense item.

I would advise the Commission, a couple of things have surfaced since we have prepared our Budget that is providing some budgetary pressures for the Budget this year. One of them deals with the recent change in the standings of various caucuses in the House. As a result of that, there is going to be an additional expenditure of about $10,000 that we had not budgeted for, that comes about as a result of an allowance that we need to make to accommodate the Member for St. John's South.

Secondly, we have some expenditure that is associated with the review process that is going on with respect to members' compensation that we had not totally budgeted for. They are part of the cost of getting that review done.

As well, we recognized very recently when we started looking at the broadcast time already used this year, because we pay satellite time at $600 an hour, if our broadcast expenditures for March of this year coming are in-line with what they were last March, then we have about a $16,000 pressure there that we had not forecasted for.

We have three items in particular that are putting some pressure on the current budget allocation that we had not envisaged when we did our forecast in the very beginning. I will just share that with members. We will be monitoring it closely and trying to ensure that we will find the necessary money within the current allocation, but it is putting some pressure on the expenditure items.

Are there any questions that any members would have with respect to the financial information that has been presented?

There being none, we will move to Tab 6. Again, this is information that is being provided to the Commission with respect to the Caucus Operational funds. There is a requirement that there be an audit provided on these expenditures.

These statements here are a summary of expenditure reports from the three caucuses with respect to their funds. This is an information note that satisfies the reporting requirements that each of the caucuses have to account for the money they have been given. This covers the period from April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2012. As you can see, they have followed pretty well the same format in how they have laid out their expenditures. I have accounted for the money they have been provided through that grant mechanism.

The next item under Tab 7 is a request from the House of Assembly to the Commission to have an amount of $145,000 transferred from a budgetary allocation in the area of Members' Resources - Allowances and Assistance, to transfer $145,000 from that budget account to a budget account in Hansard and the Broadcast Centre under the heading of Purchased Services to accommodate some expenditures that the House needs to incur to deal with some of the technology it has to operate the House.

With this one, there is a requirement that House officials cannot make this transfer automatically. Even though they have identified the source of the money that could offset this expense item, it requires the approval of the Commission to make that transfer.

This is an area where I do need to have a motion by the Commission, and a motion approved by the Commission, to make this transfer to accommodate this expenditure.

MS JONES: So moved.

MR. SPEAKER: It has been moved by Ms Jones that the transfer be made as outlined in the note.

Is there a seconder for that motion?

MR. GRANTER: Seconded.

MR. SPEAKER: Seconded by Mr Granter.

All those in favour of the motion, ‘aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: Motion carried.

Thank you.

The next item on the agenda is – I will provide an introductory comment and then I will ask Ms Michael if she would – in the budgetary process, we all know that each of the caucuses would get an allocation to deal with their expenditures, and within the caucus salary component there are two elements to the caucus salary component. One is dealing with the Leader's cost and that of the Whip, and some associated costs with operating that particular office.

Then there is a block of funding that is provided to cover the cost of salaries of those who work to support the respective caucuses. In that one there is some flexibility. The block is given to each individual caucus and the caucus can decide that they want to hire two people, five people, or ten people and they can pay in salaries as they see fit. They can be part-time or full-time. So there is lots of flexibility within that category, but the total allocation reflects that which has been given to each respective caucus to manage their affairs.

We had a circumstance in the NDP caucus where they were anticipating hiring some additional staff to assist them with some of the work that they needed done. To help them make that decision, they made a request of the officials to provide some summary of their current budget allocation and to work up some scenarios: Should they hire someone at this salary? How much would it cost them? How much money would they have, and could they afford to do it?

That information was provided. Unfortunately, the information was provided in February and the NDP caucus made some decisions about hiring staff to assist them, but the figures were incorrect. The forecast that was provided to the NDP caucus was such that they thought they had some money, and based on the forecasts would have had some money, but in reality they did not.

So now the caucus finds themselves in a spot where they have gone ahead in the spring, hired a researcher, had that person on staff, paid their salary, and now with the recognition that those figures were incorrect now realize that if they continue in their current track, will have a $12,000 deficit at the end of the year. As we all know, there is no provision for deficits in the caucus accounts. The money allocated here was an allocation that was done as a result of the Metrics report, so it is a formula-driven allocation and there is no provision for any deficits.

So, the NDP is in a position where they have a couple of choices to make. They have asked us to give some consideration as to how the Commission may play a role. They have to decide to make some changes in their current staffing, which would be to lay someone off to accommodate the shortfall, or to take the money from the non-salary component and transfer it to the salary component to cover off the $12,000 deficit, or to ask the Commission to look at other areas within the House of Assembly's budget and take the money from that category and transfer it to the NDP caucus to cover off the deficit.

That is in essence the summary, Ms Michael, of the paper that you see before you. Given that it affects your caucus, I would maybe ask you first before I open the floor to the broader discussion, if you have something to add to what I have said, or if you want to build on that or correct something I may have misrepresented.

MS MICHAEL: No, you certainly have not misrepresented anything.

I will just add a couple of things. The caucuses, at least ours – I think it is true for all three. We do not keep the spreadsheets; they are maintained by the House of Assembly staff. So, we had to put the request forward: Could you tell us where we are with our money? The answer we got, we accepted as being the correct answer.

There is ongoing contact all the time between our office administrator and also with our chief of staff, and between February and June there are a number of times when there were meetings and phone conversations, face-to-face meetings, making sure everything was going well with our money. Then, in May, we received the same projection again. Because of the February report, we hired a legislative assistant to work with us during the spring session. That person is no longer on; it was only for the spring session that the person was hired.

I would just like to say that there has been ongoing communication, we have a record of all of the communication, and it was not until June that the error was picked up by staff, I guess, in the House Management staff. We were quite shocked when we got it because there had been so much discussion and ongoing discussion around our stuff that we had no reason to believe that we did not have adequate money to hire.

When that happened, I did make contact with the Speaker to just put it forward and to say that I felt it was appropriate to put it before the House Management Commission because the error was not made by our staff. It was great care on the part of our staff actually to make sure that things were going well.

That is all that I have to say. We do not have access to the info. We could not check the spreadsheet ourselves. Maybe if we had all the information, we would have picked it up, but we did not have the necessary information because the spreadsheet – that is exactly what the error was. There was a line that was missing from the spreadsheet that was put in, in the June spreadsheet, and that is where all of it became obvious. I guess that is all I have to say.

MR. SPEAKER: Just for members' benefit, the spreadsheet reference is an attachment to the note on the back to help follow what everybody – it has been labelled A, B, C, D, and E.

What should have happened is there was $389,000 that the NDP caucus had in which to work with, and they were forecasting an expenditure of $431,000. That $431,000 actually got subtracted from the $450,000 identified in C, versus what should have been deducted from the $389,000. If that had happened, it would have been quickly recognized that we do not have enough money out of $389,000 to spend $431,000.

Ms Jones, you had your hand up?

MS JONES: I guess, first of all, it is a very unfortunate situation that things like that happen. Really, what we would be looking at here is increasing the base budget for the NDP, or the Third Party. We always run into situations where we have to balance our staff. I know in our office this year we have had to let three people go when we were not in session because we could not afford to keep them year-round. They were sessional staff people, and I am sure Dwight can speak to this as well, but they were sessional people who we brought in. We could have easily brought them in and said okay, we are going to keep them on, but we need more money because in order to keep them on we are going to go outside of what our budget is.

I realize the error was not on the part of the Third Party, but I think there is still room to correct it. I think what we would be entertaining is an increase to the base budget right now for the Third Party. We have a different procedure that we look at in order to do that. It is not a one-time spending, I am understanding; it would be carried on indefinitely as part of the base budget.

MR. SPEAKER: It would not need to be added to the base as an indefinite adjustment; it would have to be added to this year's base to deal with it as a one-time expenditure. It would not remain as a part of the baseline as outlined in Metrics.

MS JONES: We are looking at it then as a one-time expenditure, as opposed to an addition to the overall budget of the Third Party?

MR. SPEAKER: Exactly, that is what we are looking at here.

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: I just looked at my notes. That is one thing I forgot to say. This is just a one-off situation because of the error. I would have no expectation that this is adding $12,000 to the base for our party, no. It would be a one-off because of the error.

Just one other point, we made the decision for the legislative assistant believing we had the money. It was not that we looked at our budget and over budgeted ourselves. It was because we believed we had the money because of the error.

MR. SPEAKER: You were going to say.

MS JONES: Yes, just one other question. The shortfall that we are looking at in the $12,000 range, is that able to be picked up if the position was redundant at this stage before the end of the year?

MR. SPEAKER: There would not be enough money in the salary budget. If you go to the –

MS JONES: You can transfer within your budget.

MR. SPEAKER: Transfer money, yes. As the note would indicate, the options or the remedy here would be to – the budget has a salary component and a non-salary component. What would have to happen here is a non-salary component, you would have to take money from that category, the non-salary component, transfer it to the salary component to cover off the salary shortfall here. That is what would be required internally to do that.

MS JONES: There is a way to deal with this within the budget that they currently have? That is the question that I am asking.

MR. SPEAKER: In terms of the –

MS JONES: Because you cannot run a deficit.

MR. SPEAKER: There is some unexpended money in the budget. The question for the NDP caucus to decide is, in order for us to cover this $12,000 we would have to make some conscious decisions not to spend money somewhere else where we had originally forecast to spend it in order to cover off this salary.

If the question is: Is there enough money within the current NDP budget to do this? The answer would be yes. If the question is: Is there enough flexibility to allow them to continue to do what they had planned to do, and do this? The answer is probably no.

Mr. Kennedy.

MR. KENNEDY: If I understand correctly, no one would be laid off. The layoff took place in June. Essentially, what they are asking is for $12,000 to be added on to the allocation, which we had agreed upon and made a decision on last year.

MR. SPEAKER: That would be correct, yes.

MR. KENNEDY: The Metrics report outlined the allocation, we made a decision, and the Management Commission, which outlined or agreed upon the amounts to be given to each party.

MR. SPEAKER: That is what we have been doing, yes.

MS JONES: To cover what has already been expended.

MR. SPEAKER: Exactly.

Mr. Kennedy, you are up.

MR. KENNEDY: Perhaps either yourself, Mr. Speaker, or Ms Michael, could speak to this. We certainly know they did what they could, took the steps required, and a mistake was made.

When I look in the briefing note, there is a reference to a member's claim, "Where through inadvertence or otherwise a claim made by a member is paid from public funds and it is discovered that the claim should not have been paid or honoured because it was in excess of the maximum allowed… the member is liable for repayment of that amount to the extent of the excess and shall, upon request by the comptroller general, immediately pay that excess amount to the Consolidated Revenue Fund."

If that is the principle that appears to be outlined in relation to members, what would be the difference here in relation to a party? In other words, inadvertence – and we all accept that this is inadvertence and not the fault of the NDP. How could you distinguish that principle?

MR. SPEAKER: It is a fair question. As I give an answer, I am not giving it as the authority on the question, but it is a similar circumstance. Obviously, it is a circumstance where the point in the note references a member who may inadvertently have made a mistake, over claimed, and they are responsible for it.

The question you are posing, I am not necessarily trying to put words in your mouth, but if your question is in the instance mentioned in the note, the member has the responsibility for their own expenditures and they rely on information provided to them, but ultimately it is the member who is responsible for it. The issue here is the degree to which there is forgiveness for the error that was made here.

Ms Michael has indicated that they relied on the information provided by the House staff to make their decision. The question becomes, how much responsibility does each individual caucus have for ensuring that they are in compliance with their expenditures?

If the House staff provides information, which happens regularly, to an individual, the question becomes: How much responsibility does that caucus have, or that member have, for ensuring that they live within their allocation? That is the judgement call that the Commission has been asked to make here.

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: (Inaudible) principle, except to say that the reference here is definitely referring to a member, not to a member and/or caucus. That is one thing.

The other thing is if we use this principle, then we made a decision based on what we thought was the maximum allowed. We were not asking for what was beyond, because we were told the money was there. We were told there was $18,000 there. So, as far as we knew, we were within the allowed maximum, and I think that is an important point.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: I do not think for a minute they acted outside what they felt was right; however, in any type of government entity, if there are overpayments made because staff of a department have made an error and you get paid extra money in any way, you are required to pay it back. That would happen if you were on Income Support and the worker, in all good faith, made an error and you got two cheques in one month instead of one. We would set up an overpayment and you would pay it back.

If you got a tax refund back and you got double what you are entitled to, you would be required or they would take it back. That is the way we operate it as government, because personally, we do not own the money. It is taxpayers' money and we are responsible for it.

Based on the scenario we are looking at here now and the options that are outlined to us on the last page of the briefing note, the first option indicates the Third Party caucus take necessary staffing actions to live within their existing budget. We are only new into this fiscal year, we are not halfway through yet. There is plenty of time for them to deal with how they are going to deal with the error.

This is not at the last minute in the fiscal year where we do not know what is going on and how we can get there. We are not even halfway through the year, there is an error been made. When you look at the options – I just look at that if we were dealing with anyone else here as a government entity we would expect an overpayment to be paid back. That is the principle of government. That is not something new I am saying here, but for us to sit here and to put ourselves at a higher level, that we would not do it to ourselves, I think is a double standard.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: I would just like to point out, Mr. Speaker, that the overall budget where all of this money comes from is the budget of the Legislature, and that we do have a practice at this table of when requests come from different departments because of their having to spend more money than they expected to have spent for whatever reason, we have made decisions to move money from the overall budget to allow for that to happen. We did it already today with regard to the Broadcast Centre.

When we make that decision with regard to other issues, we do not look at the one budget of the department or whether it is one of the offices or whatever, we look at the overall budget. In lots of cases we are moving the money because we have so much money in the area of money for members. We do not use a lot of that money for members.

It is my understanding, I could be wrong, that in the number 3 point for example, "Transfer of funds from elsewhere in the Legislature, subject to availability." If we are told, and I ask that question: Do we have the amount of money we usually have sitting around in the budget of our Legislature because we do not spend all that money? Then we are only doing what we already do in other cases with regard to transfer of funds within the total budget of the Legislature. Which is decision making we do all the time.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: That would lead me to say that within our budgets if we hold back our money as caucuses we can hire more staff and transfer it into salary dollars. That is the precedent we are setting here. So you can take your caucus funds and you can decide you are going to hire people instead of using it that way because we can transfer the money in. It is the decision we have made, if we go down that road.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: I think if we are setting a precedent it is recognizing a mistake was made and trying to correct a mistake. Nobody deliberately said here we will over hire because we can get the money from somewhere else. I do not think that is the precedent that would be set, I really do not.

MR. SPEAKER: I think the point I would like just to clarify to ensure we all understand where we are working from, these three caucus allocations are unique from any other expenditure within the House of Assembly and any other budget item. We sit around as a Commission in the fall and we develop a budget for the upcoming fiscal year. We decide what expenditures we think are reasonable to operate the Hansard and other aspects of House operation.

The one area, though, that we do not do anything with is the issue of these three funds because the Metrics report is what guides this piece. When we talk about moving money around from one category to another, we do that but we exclude the three caucus funds for a very specific reason. In that the Metrics report, we have decided as a Commission, would guide the allocation in those three expense categories.

The three caucus accounts are guided by the Metrics report. Last year we, as a Commission, said that the Metrics report would guide us in those allocations and not some other determination. So, when we talk about transferring money in and out of accounts, these three are unique because of the Metrics report that we have adopted and said would guide us. There is that distinction; I just point that out.

We have had some good discussion here. Are there any other comments that someone would like to make? We need to confirm a decision here and provide some direction, but I do not want to stifle the discussion and I wanted to make sure that we have had a full, healthy discussion around the points. Are there any other points that anyone would like to make?

MS JONES: I have a question.

MR. SPEAKER: Go ahead, Ms Jones.

MS JONES: When it comes to the transfer of funds from within a caucus fund, how does that work when it comes to salaries? I know that there are times when you can transfer if you need more money to go into office supplies or you need more money to go into, I do not know, subscriptions for newspapers or something like that, however all that works. You can actually transfer in those categories, but can you normally transfer to salaries from those categories?

MR. SPEAKER: The normal practice is you would not. In the day-to-day management of it, your answer would be no, but in this particular instance here the Commission would have the authority, if it decided to do that. The Commission would have the authority to provide direction to the House officials to have that transfer done within the budget categories.

MS JONES: This would be an exception then, so this is not something that we would normally do?

MR. SPEAKER: Correct.

MS JONES: The other piece is that if we were to allow that, how does that then work? Do we cap it on whatever the expenditure already has been or will they be able to transfer other monies and go out and hire more staff? I am just trying to get an understanding of how that would work.

MR. SPEAKER: I think the note is a very specific note that talks about an action where a person was hired in the spring and, as a result of that hiring, it has created a deficit of some $12,000 in the salary category. It is a very specific request to deal with the $12,000 only, and as a one-off to deal with it in that fashion.

It would not be an open door then that now we have done it once we can do it again, or that this opens the door for any kind of repeat request in future years from other caucuses to do something similar. It is a request that surfaced as a result of an error in reporting that prompted the hiring of the person in the first place. That is what we are dealing with as a one-off.

I guess the message and lesson in all of this is that the information gets provided by House staff and there is a reliance on that, but there is a responsibility that everybody has to ensure that what they get is confirmed and verified and that they understand it.

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: It seems to me that the correct language should be – I do not think it is a transfer of funds. I do not think that the House administration committee can actually tell a caucus to transfer funds from one to the other because we are in charge of that money.

I think what is happening is because of the mistake made by the staff of the House of Assembly we owe money and we can choose depending – if this body does not decide with number 3, for example, then we owe money. Then, we would have to pay that money, we would have to find that money and, obviously, we would have to find it from our caucus funds. So, I do not think that it is this body making a decision to transfer money into salary; I think it is us paying a debt to the House, if this body does not decide to do the number 3 option. That is what I think is going on.

MS JONES: (Inaudible) trying to get some clarification.

MS MICHAEL: Exactly, because it is not putting more money to salary, it is paying a debt. That is what I see is happening, if number 3 is not agreed to by the body.

MR. SPEAKER: In the budget allocation, certain amounts of money are allocated under the heading of salaries and some more money is allocated under another heading. So, internally, in the budget process, someone would have to make a transfer of $12,000 from this budget category of non-salary items over to the salary category, and that is the mechanics of the transfer.

MS MICHAEL: It is a paper transfer.

MR. SPEAKER: It is a paper transfer; you are right.

MS MICHAEL: It is a paper transfer because we would have been put in the position of owing money, so it is not that more money has gone into salary. Because I think that is what Ms Jones is trying to get at.

MS JONES: I guess, just to sum it up, if we are not prepared to support Option 3, there is really nothing here that we need to support.

MR. SPEAKER: No decision for the Commission, no.


MR. SPEAKER: These lay out the options that are before the NDP caucus. The only decision that the Commission has to make is the decision around number 3, and I guess to help facilitate a decision process here – because we have a good discussion. In order to facilitate a vote here, because we do not have a motion on the table, if Ms Michael is requesting that the Commission consider number 3, I would ask that she would make the motion and then we would have a motion on the table to be seconded and then to be voted on, and then that would be the decision of the Commission.

Before we do that - Mr. Ball?

MR. BALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker; I would like to make a comment on it.

What I understand here is that if the NDP caucus at this point would make a request to the office, you would look favourably at finding the $600 a month, whatever it would take, to retire this debt?

MR. SPEAKER: The challenge, as I have said, the piece around subject to availability; I pointed out earlier that we had to make some decisions about what we are not going to spend. What we have before us now is the House of Assembly would have to make some decisions about some things it would not spend money on to provide $12,000 so that the NDP could have the salary component done. That is the question here.

MR. BALL: Yes, excuse me.

What I am talking about is if the NDP caucus could find a way to transfer the funds within their own allocation, you would not have a problem?

MR. SPEAKER: There is no decision to be made here, no.

Ms Michael, so we can have a decision coming out of the Commission, if you wanted to make a motion to the effect of number 3, because that is the only decision that the Commission needs to consider.

MS MICHAEL: Well, I will make the motion that a transfer of funds from elsewhere in the legislative budget of $12,096 be made to the salary budget of the Third Party caucus as a one-off transfer of funds.

MR. SPEAKER: Is there a seconder for that motion?

There being no one to second the motion –

MS JONES: (Inaudible). I will second the motion, if you want to have a vote.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion has been seconded.

Is everybody ready for the vote? Are there any other questions or discussions?

The motion has been made and seconded that the House would transfer money from elsewhere in the legislative budget to the NDP caucus to cover the cost of a $12,096 salary shortfall.

All those in favour of the motion, ‘aye'.


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

Motion defeated.

Just so we dispose of the item, just for clarity for the NDP caucus that would mean – I would suggest that someone from the caucus may want to meet with our House of Assembly Corporate Services to talk about the mechanics of the transfer from the other expense categories to the salary component.

That concludes the items on the agenda. When we adjourn, I would ask the two members of the Finance Committee if we could just take a few short minutes to have a brief chat about an upcoming Audit Committee meeting.

With that said, and with no other items, we will entertain a motion for adjournment.

MS MICHAEL: So moved.

MR. SPEAKER: Moved by Ms Michael.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: The meeting stands adjourned.

On motion, meeting adjourned.