MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
WEDNESDAY 20 JUNE2007
SENATE CHAMBER, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Danny Kennedy (Chairperson)
Naomi Long (Deputy Chairperson)
Debbie Pritchard (Deputy Clerk)
Damien Martin (Assembly Clerk)
Joe Sloan (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Antonia Hoskins (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Lynda Mulholland (Clerical Supervisor)
Marion Johnson (Clerical Officer)
The meeting opened at 2.02 p.m. in Public Session.
Members agreed the format for taking evidence from the First Minister and deputy First Minister in relation to agenda items 5 and 6.
Draft minutes of the meeting held on 6 June 2007
The minutes of proceedings for Wednesday, 6 June 2007 were agreed by the Committee.
Members noted the record of the Committee’s familiarisation visit to the Maze / Long Kesh site on Wednesday 13 June 2007 and OFMDFM’s offer to facilitate a tour of the site for members who had missed the visit. Mr Mc Elduff and Mr Molloy indicated that they would like to take up the offer from OFMDFM.
Programme for Government (PfG) – Executive’s emerging priorities
The First Minister and the deputy First Minister accompanied by the Junior Ministers gave evidence to the Committee on the initiation of the process to produce the Programme for Government for 2008-11 and Budget 2007. The Ministers outlined 5 emerging strategic priorities for consideration by the Executive, these are:
- Growing a dynamic, innovative economy.
- Building a peaceful, just and stable society.
- Invest to rebuild our infrastructure.
- Deliver modern, high quality and efficient public services.
- Protect and enhance our environment and natural resources.
The First Minister and the deputy First Minister gave further evidence to the Committee on the immediate challenges facing the Executive in the lead up to production of the Programme for Government including the reviews on Rates, Water Charges, the Review of Public Administration and the School Transfer System.
Members questioned the First Minister and the deputy First Minister on a wide range of policies to be considered by the Executive in the formulation of its Programme for Government. The Ministers offered to come back to Committee when policies and exercises such as the Programme for Government, Budget 2007 and the Investment Strategy for 2008-17 have been progressed.
The Committee agreed to write to the other Statutory Committees to inform them of its discussions with the First Minister and deputy First Minister and to make them aware of the Executive’s emerging priorities and to advise them that the transcript of the evidence session will be published.
Programme for Government / Budget 2007 / Investment Strategy – Office of the First Minister Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) position
The First Minister and the deputy First Minister gave evidence to the Committee on the bids OFMDFM would be making as part of the Programme for Government for 2008-11 and Budget 2007 exercise.
The First Minister and the deputy First Minister answered Members’ questions on the bids by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister and on a range of policy issues. The Ministers provided indicative timings for announcements on policies being taken forward by OFMDFM and invited the Committee to write to them if they wished to have further information on any of the matters raised.
The Committee agreed to write to the First Minister and deputy First Minister to obtain clarification on a number of policy issues.
Committee’s Forward Work Programme
The Committee considered a paper provided by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister on a range of issues to be brought to the Committee in the coming weeks and in the next Assembly session. The Committee identified a number of substantive items which may need Committee consideration and for which it needs OFMDFM clarification in terms of timing.
Mr Wells left the meeting at 3.25 p.m.
EU Gender Goods and Services Directive
The Committee received clarification on the proposed consultation on regulations to implement the EU directive on Gender Goods and Services in advance of public consultation on the implementation of the Directive and its transposition into Northern Ireland legislation.
The Committee agreed to write to the First Minister and deputy First Minister to advise that it had not as yet come to a view on the merits of the policy or how it should be implemented, but wished to see full consultation on the proposals. The Committee also expressed its interest in considering the proposed regulations following the public consultation.
The Committee considered a letter from Mr Jim Allister (MEP) in relation to adults with special needs and agreed to write to the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister for a response on its role in overseeing a co-ordinated approach to meeting the disparate needs of disabled adults once they reach 19 years of age.
Any other business
The Chairperson briefed the Committee on his meeting with representatives of Save the Children and suggested that the Committee may wish to consider the suggestion that the Committee inquire into child poverty during discussion of its priorities at next week’s meeting.
The Chairperson advised the Committee that he and the Deputy Chairperson had received an invitation from the First Minister and the deputy First Minister to a reception for the Community and Voluntary Sector.
The Committee noted the items of business to be considered at the Committee’s two remaining meetings before recess.
The Committee agreed a press release on its meeting with the First Minister and the deputy First Minister.
Date of next meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 27 June 2007 at 2.00pm in Room 144, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 3.52 p.m.
Mr Danny Kennedy
Chairperson, Committee for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister