COMMITTEE FOR THE OFFICE OF THE FIRST MINISTER AND DEPUTY FIRST MINISTER
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
WEDNESDAY 3 September 2008
Room 144, PARLIAMENT bUILDINGS
Mr Danny Kennedy (Chairperson)
Mrs Naomi Long (Deputy Chairperson)
Ms Martina Anderson
Mr Tom Elliot
Mr Barry McElduff
Mr Francie Molloy
Mr Stephen Moutray
Mr Jim Shannon
Mr Jimmy Spratt
Mr Damien Martin (Clerk Assistant)
Mrs Cathie White (Assembly Clerk)
Mrs Antonia Hoskins (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Mr Keith McBride (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Mrs Marion Johnson (Clerical Assistant)
The meeting opened at 2.04 p.m. in public session
Mrs Dolores Kelly, Mr Jim Wells.
2. Chairperson’s Business
New Committee Clerk
The Chairperson welcomed Mrs Cathie White, the new Clerk to the Committee and introduced Cathie to the Members. The Chairperson thanked Mr Damien Martin for his hard work in assisting the Committee and wished him well in his new role as Clerk Assistant.
Director of Clerking and Reporting
The Chairperson welcomed Mr John Stewart, the Director of Clerking and Reporting to the Committee meeting. The Chairperson wished John well in his new role.
Meeting with the UK Rapporteur for the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child
The Chairperson reminded Members of the meeting with Professor Lucy Smith, the UK Rapporteur for the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, at 1 p.m. on Friday 5 September in Room 144.
Meeting with the Hon Kayee Griffin MLC, New South Wales Parliament
The Chairperson advised Members that he is meeting with the Hon Kayee Griffin MLC, on Monday 8 September to discuss issues relating to children and young people.
3. Draft minutes of the meeting held on 2 July 2008
The minutes of proceedings for Wednesday 2 July 2008 were agreed by the Committee.
4. Matters Arising
Responses on Sustainable Development
Members noted the response from the Clerk to the Committee for Regional Development concerning that Committee’s work on sustainable development.
Members agreed that the Committee write to the Committee for Regional Development thanking them for their interest in sustainable development and highlighting the need for further development of the social and economic aspects of sustainable development.
Play and Leisure Policy
Members agreed to note that a further amendment has been made to the Play and Leisure Policy to reflect the particular needs of vulnerable groups in advance of consideration by the Executive.
Council for Education on World Citizenship
Members noted the response from the Department of Education concerning funding for the Council for Education for World Citizenship Northern Ireland.
Building Regulations (Amendment) Bill
Members discussed the extract on building regulations and sustainable development from the Committee for Finance and Personnel’s report on the Building Regulations (Amendment) Bill. The Committee agreed to write to relevant committees to flag up the need to prioritise minimising fuel costs and to encourage innovative schemes to tackle rising fuel costs.
Mrs Long joined the meeting at 2.15 p.m.
Funding for the poorest families
Members discussed the response from OFMDFM advising that the £3.5 million in respect of funding for the poorest families was received by the Northern Ireland Block Budget in March 2008 and were subject to the normal budgetary process.
Members agreed to return to the issue after the Department’s response to the Committee’s Child Poverty Report. Members also agreed to forward this response to the Non Governmental Organisation members of the Ministerial Forum set up as part of the Lifetime Opportunities Strategy, who initially raised this issue.
Funding for Children and Young People
Members considered the response from OFMDFM providing further information on funding for children and young people. Members agreed to discuss with Junior Ministers when they next attend a meeting of the Committee. Members also agreed to write to all statutory committees seeking details of any bids by departments in the September Monitoring Round relating to Children and Young People’s priorities.
Programme for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration for a Shared and Better Future
Members noted a response from OFMDFM advising that it had not yet completed consideration of the Committee’s enquiries and is unable to provide a firm date for consideration of the Programme.
US-NI Investment Conference
Members discussed the response from OFMDFM, which provided details of how investors were made aware of opportunities that exist throughout Northern Ireland. The Committee agreed to write to the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment to request details on how the Conference tackled disadvantage in Northern Ireland and to request details of the specific locations in Northern Ireland that investors were taken to and the reasons for taking the investors to these locations.
Public Authorities Reform Bill
Members considered the response from OFMDFM providing details of the cost benefit analysis conducted to inform decisions to reverse previous RPA decisions on Quangos. Members agreed to seek further information on the financial costs for reversing the decisions to abolish Quangos.
Junior Ministers’ Workplan
Members considered a copy of the Junior Ministers’ Workplan relating to Children and Young People. Members agreed to consider with the Junior Ministers in more detail, when they next attend a Committee meeting.
Members discussed OFMDFM’s response on Neighbourhood Renewal and agreed to forward OFMDFM’s response to the Committee for Social Development. Members also agreed to write to OFMDFM requesting if there has been any analysis completed by the Central Anti-Poverty Unit into the effectiveness of the Neighbourhood Renewal Scheme in tackling child poverty.
Draft Strategic Approach for Victims and Survivors
Members noted the response from OFMDFM which advised that paragraph 29 of the draft document has been amended to include a line on ensuring that administration costs do not increase.
5. Disability Discrimination (Transport Vehicles) Regulations
A Researcher of the Assembly’s Research and Library Services briefed the Committee on the comparisons of the Northern Ireland draft Regulations with those already in place elsewhere in the UK.
Officials from OFMDFM joined the meeting at 2.40 p.m.
Mr Elliot joined the meeting at 2.43 p.m.
Dr Gerry Mulligan and Mrs Martina Campbell briefed Members on the up to date position with the draft Consultation Document and Regulations. The Committee was advised there had been a number of changes to the draft Consultation Document, which included adding a reference to guided forms of transport and changes to the definition of private hire vehicles and taxis . Officials advised that they had revised the timeline and were hopeful that they could have the completed regulations and accompanying code of practice coming into place on 6 April 2009. Officials agreed to provide the Committee with an update on the progress of the Equality Commission’s working group, after it has been set up, to consider the Code of Practice. Officials also agreed to provide the Committee with details of the public consultation meetings that it would be holding.
Mr Spratt left the meeting at 2.49 p.m.
Officials from OFMDFM left the meeting at 2.53 p.m.
Members agreed to send a copy of the draft consultation document to the Committee for Regional Development and to the Committee for the Environment and advise that this Committee would consult with them following the consultation period.
6. Committee visit to Brussels
The Committee considered the report from the Clerk, providing a brief overview of the meetings attended and some of the key issues which arose during discussions. Members agreed that they would take the report into account when considering the roles and priorities of an EU sub-committee.
7. Meeting of the EU Committee Chairpersons
The Committee noted the report of the meeting of the EC-UK Forum on Monday 30th June 2008, in Edinburgh. The Chairperson advised that he had agreed that the next meeting will be held in Northern Ireland in the late autumn.
Members agreed that the Clerk would look into arranging a meeting with the Joint European Oireachtais Committees in the near future.
8. EU Subsidiarity Pilot
Members considered the House of Lords EU Sub-Committee G request for a written submission on the pilot subsidiarity check pilot under the Lisbon Treaty agreed by the COSAC (Conference of Community and European Affairs Committees of Parliaments of the European Union) Chairpersons. Members agreed that although they could not meet the deadline for response they would be keen to have an input at a later stage when the Committee has considered in further detail. Members agreed to commission research on the subsidiarity pilot.
Mr Shannon joined the meeting at 3.16 p.m.
9. Forward Work Programme
Members considered and agreed the Forward Work Programme for the Committee.
Critiques of Varney’s reports from the Committee for Finance and Personnel
Members noted correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel providing links to critiques of Varney’s reports.
Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development’s Report into Renewable Energy and Alternative Land Use
Members noted the correspondence from the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development and agreed to forward to the First Minister and deputy First Minister.
Scottish Parliament’s Europe and External Relations Committee’s Seminar
Members considered the invitation from the Scottish Parliament’s Europe and External Relations Committee to a seminar on European issues on 13 and 14 November 2008. Members agreed that the Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and Clerk attend the event together with one Member from each of the other parties represented on the Committee.
Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission
Members were content to note, at present, the correspondence from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission concerning its consultation on the outcomes of equality screening exercises.
11. Any other business
No other business
12. Date of next meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 10 September 2008 at 2.00 p.m. in Room 144.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 3.25 p.m.