MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
WEDNESDAY 06 JUNE2007
ROOM 144, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Danny Kennedy (Chairperson)
Naomi Long (Deputy Chairperson)
Damien Martin (Assembly Clerk)
Joe Sloan (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Antonia Hoskins (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Lynda Mulholland (Clerical Supervisor)
Marion Johnson (Clerical Officer)
Eileen Regan (Senior Researcher)
Naomi Doak (Researcher)
The meeting opened at 2.02 p.m. in Public Session.
Martina Anderson, Francie Molloy.
Members confirmed that the briefings relating to agenda item 11 should be received in closed session.
Mr Shannon joined the meeting at 2.05 p.m.
Draft minutes of the meeting held on 30 May 2007
The minutes of proceedings for Wednesday, 30 May 2007 were agreed by the Committee.
Mr Wells joined the meeting at 2.07 p.m
(a) Press release
Mr McElduff sought clarification from the Chairperson as to the capacity in which he issued a press release on 5 June 2007 on “moving beyond a troubled past”. The Chairperson advised the Committee that he sought to distinguish clearly between when he spoke on behalf of his party and when as Committee Chairperson.
Mr Elliot joined the meeting at 2.10 p.m.
(b) Invitation to First Minister and deputy First Minster
The Members were advised that the First Minister and deputy First Minister have accepted the Committee’s invitation to attend the Committee meeting scheduled for the 20 June 2007 and agreed for the meeting to be held in the Senate Chamber.
The First Minister and deputy First Minister will brief the Committee on emerging priorities in relation to the Programme for Government and on the long-term priorities for the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minster (OFMDFM).
(c) Committee name
Members were advised that the motion to change the name of the committee to the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister had been scheduled for consideration in plenary on Tuesday 12 June 2007.
(d) Information request following briefings
Members noted the information provided by OFMDFM in relation to queries raised by members during the briefings on 24 May 2007.
Members were advised that a response detailing the suggested reduction in savings as a result of any changes in RPA proposals for councils has yet to be received. The Clerk advised that he has asked officials in OFMDFM to confirm when the Committee might expect this information.
Members were advised that responses to a number of queries made by the Committee at its meeting with OFMDFM officials on 06 June 2007 are expected for consideration at the Committee’s next meeting on 20 June 2007.
Briefing on Strategic Priorities and Budget 2007 – 08
John McMillen (Accounting Officer) and Jackie Kerr (Finance Director) briefed Members on OFMDFM’s Public Service Agreement targets and operational plan for 2007-08 and on the departmental budget and main estimates for 2007-08.
Members asked questions on budgetary changes and raised concerns with regard to the adequacy of the budget for the Planning Appeals Commission and enquired of officials as to whether a representation might be made by them to the Department for Finance and Personnel (DFP), to allow the Commission to use more of its own fees revenue rather than returning them to the Consolidated Fund. The Committee asked the Clerk to write to the Department to express its concerns and to request feedback on discussions with DFP.
Members also requested that the Department provide figures in relation to the budget for Sustainable Development.
Briefing on June Monitoring Position
John McMillen and Jackie Kerr briefed the Committee on the Department’s June monitoring position. Officials were asked to provide information detailing internal re-allocations made as a result of the June monitoring round. It was noted that the Department would not be reporting any easements to DFP.
Budget Bill No 2 ( Main Estimates 2007-08)
The Clerk asked the Committee to note the paper on the Budget Bill No 2 (Main Estimates 2007-08) provided by the Secretariat and advised the Committee that on Monday June 11 2007, the Finance Minister will present the main estimates in the Assembly and thereafter introduce the Budget Bill No 2.
Mr Wells left the meeting at 3.08 p.m.
Primary Legislation in the Northern Ireland Assembly
Martin Wilson, the Principal Clerk for Bills, provided a short briefing on Primary Legislation in the Assembly and the role of Committees.
Mrs Kelly joined the meeting at 3.21 p.m.
Mr McElduff and Mr Spratt left the meeting at 3.24 p.m.
Research Briefing on European Institutions
Eileen Regan (Senior Researcher) and Naomi Doak (Researcher) briefed members on the work of European Institutions and on the relevancy of European Union law and policy to Northern Ireland. Members requested further information on decision-making processes in the European Union.
The Chairperson advised the Committee that he had received a request to meet with Save the Children and that he would hope to meet with representatives of Save the Children in the next week. He will report back to the Committee on the outcome of the meeting. The invitation has also been extended to the Deputy Chairperson.
The Chairperson advised that he has accepted an invitation from Sir Patrick Cormack MP to meet with members of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.
The meeting moved into Closed Session at 3.35 p.m.
EU Gender Directive on Goods and Services
Eileen Regan (Senior Researcher) and Naomi Doak (Researcher) briefed the Committee on the requirements of the European Union Gender Directive on Goods and Services and on key issues for discussion with officials.
Dr Gerry Mulligan, Carol McCabe and Roberta Mercer from OFMDFM Equality Directorate then briefed the Committee on the proposed consultation on the implementation of the EU Gender Directive on Goods and Services in Northern Ireland and on its transposition into Northern Ireland legislation.
The Chairperson left the meeting at 3.57 p.m.
The Deputy Chairperson assumed the Chair at 3.57 p.m.
The Chairperson resumed the Chair at 4.04 p.m.
Members questioned officials on the proposed consultation and requested clarification from the Department on a number of issues. Officials undertook to explore the potential for the deadline for transposition to be extended due to the exceptional circumstances in Northern Ireland.
Mr Moutray left the meeting at 4.41 p.m.
Any other business
(a) Maze/Long Kesh Visit
Members advised that they were content with the proposed itinerary for the familiarisation visit to the Maze/Long Kesh and with the draft press release notifying the press of this visit.
(b) Forward work plan
Members advised that they were content for the forward work plan to be published on the Committee’s Internet pages. The Clerk advised Members that further discussion on the future prioritisation of issues in the Committee Forward Plan has been included for discussion in the agenda for the Committee meeting of 27 June.
(c)Text messaging service
Members confirmed that they were content for the Committee to take part in a pilot of a text messaging service.
Date of next meeting
The Chairperson reminded Members that the visit to the Maze/Long Kesh site will take place on Wednesday 13 June 2007 and that the next Committee Meeting will be on Wednesday 20 June 2007, in the Senate Chamber at 2.00 p.m.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 4.54 p.m.
Mr Danny Kennedy
Chairperson, Committee of the Centre