COMMITTEE FOR THE OFFICE OF THE FIRST MINISTER AND DEPUTY FIRST MINISTER
WEDNESDAY 19 NOVEMBER 2008
ROOM 144, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Mr Danny Kennedy (Chairperson)
Mrs Naomi Long (Deputy Chairperson)
Ms Martina Anderson
Mr Tom Elliott
Mrs Dolores Kelly
Mr Ian McCrea
Mr Barry McElduff
Mr Francie Molloy
Mr Stephen Moutray
Mr Jim Shannon
Mr Jimmy Spratt
Mrs Cathie White (Assembly Clerk)
Mrs Linda Gregg (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Mr Keith McBride (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Mrs Lynda Mulholland (Clerical Supervisor)
Ms Helena Maginness (Clerical Officer)
2.02 p.m. The meeting opened in public session.
2. Chairperson’s Business
Letter from Training for Women Network
The Chairperson advised Members that he had received a letter dated 12 November 2008 from the Chief Executive of Training for Women Network, regarding the delay in receiving approval of the Positive Relations Project from the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister.
Agreed: Members agreed that the Committee would forward the letter to the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister advising that the Committee is concerned about this delay and any other projects that are awaiting approval under the Peace 3 Programme.
Visit of the President of the European Parliament
The Chairperson reminded Members that the President of the European Parliament would be visiting Parliament Buildings on Monday 24 November 2008.
3. Draft minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday 12 November 2008
Agreed: The draft minutes of proceedings were agreed by the Committee.
2.06 p.m. Members from the Construction Industry Group joined the meeting
4. Construction Industry Group
Mr Gordon Best, Mr Ciarán Fox, Mr Colin Shaw and Mr Alfie Watterson gave evidence to the Committee on the current trends of skills migration, unemployment and falling away of apprenticeship opportunities and the impact of these factors on the industry’s skills base and recruitment profile. They stressed their concerns for the sustainability of the industry given that these conditions are likely to worsen in the next months. This was followed by a question and answer session.
2.57p.m. Mr Elliott left the meeting
3.05 p.m. Members from the Construction Industry Group left the meeting
Agreed: Members agreed to invite the Construction and Property Group to give evidence to the Committee regarding discussions with the Department.
3.07 p.m. Officials from OFMDFM and the Strategic Investment Board joined the meeting
3.18 p.m. Mr Elliott rejoined the meeting
5. Progress on ISNI and Capital Realisations
Mr John McMillen and Mr James McAleer, officials from the Department and Mr David Gavaghan and Mr Martin Spollen, officials from the Strategic Investment Board briefed the Committee on the progress of the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland and Capital Realisations. This was followed by a question and answer session.
3.19 p.m. Mr Spratt left the meeting
3.29 p.m. Officials from OFMDFM and the Strategic Investment Board left the meeting
Agreed: Members agreed to write to the First Minister and deputy First Minister and all Ministers of the Executive Committee to voice its concern regarding the current situation and to raise a number of issues to help alleviate the current crisis in the sector.
6. Children and Young People’s Draft Action Plan
The Chairperson asked Members to note the research briefing papers on National Plans of Action and Young people and Responses to the Draft Children and Young People’s Action Plan 2008-2011.
7. Public Authorities (Reform) Bill
Members considered the draft Report on the Public Authorities (Reform) Bill.
Agreed: Members agreed pages 1 and 2 without objection.
Agreed: Members agreed page 3 without objection.
Agreed: Members agreed page 4 without objection.
Agreed: Members agreed to include submissions from Belfast City Council, Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development, Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Committee for Social Development and Ulster Farmer’s Union in the report.
Agreed: Members agreed to include the following correspondence in the report: letter to First Minister and deputy First Minister; letter from First Minister and deputy First Minister; and letter to the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development.
Agreed: Members agreed to order the report to be printed.
Agreed: Members agreed that an extract from the Minutes of Proceedings of today’s meeting should be included in Appendix 1 of the report and are content that the Chairperson agrees the minutes to allow the extract to be included in the printed report.
8. Matters Arising
September Monitoring Round
The Chairperson advised Members that a response had been received to the Committee’s letter of 29 September 2008 seeking further information and clarification on certain aspects of the Department’s proposals for the September Monitoring Round.
Agreed: Members agreed to note the response.
Voices of Hope
The Chairperson advised Members that a copy response on behalf of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to “Voices of Hope” had been received.
Agreed: Members agreed to note the response.
Members attendance at Committee meetings
The Chairperson asked Members to note the letter from the Clerk to the Chairperson’s Liaison Group advising that members’ attendance at Committee meetings will be placed on the Committee Web Page on Friday 21 November 2008.
The Chairperson asked Members to note the following items of correspondence: letter from the Chairperson of the Assembly and Executive Review Committee regarding devolution of policing and justice; letter from the Chairperson of the Committee for Finance and Personnel to the Minister of Finance and Personnel regarding the Budget Stocktake and the Minister’s response.
3.38 p.m. Mr Spratt rejoined the meeting
Letter from ‘environment link’ to the Chairperson
The Committee considered the letter from ‘environment link’ on the subject of Bovine tuberculosis and the call for a badger cull to be introduced in Northern Ireland.
Agreed: Members agreed that the letter should be forwarded to the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development and to ask that Committee to report back to this Committee on this matter.
NISRA analysis of sickness absence statistics for non-industrial staff in NI Departments 2007/2008
The Committee considered the NISRA analysis of sickness absence for non-industrial staff in NI Departments 2007/2008.
Agreed: Members agreed to ask the Committee for Finance and Personnel if it has an insight into what action has been taken as a result of this report and also to clarify whether there will be a similar report for industrial staff in NI Departments.
Seminar on European Issues
The Committee noted the email from the Scottish Parliament’s European and External Relations Committee suggesting dates in May 2009 to attend a seminar on European Issues.
Agreed: Members agreed 7 to 8 May 2009 as suitable dates.
Downturn in the construction industry
The Chairperson drew Members’ attention to the correspondence from the Chairperson of the Committee for Employment and Learning to the First Minister and deputy First Minister concerning the downturn in the construction industry.
Agreed: Members agreed to forward the correspondence to the First Minister and deputy First Minister.
European Environmental Policy – The Northern Ireland Dimension
The Chairperson asked Members to note an invitation from NI Environment Link to an event which will provide an overview of how European Environmental Policy is developed and impacts on Northern Ireland.
10. Any other business
The Committee considered the possibility of visiting other Regional Parliaments as part of the Committee’s consideration of European issues.
Agreed: Members agreed to commission a research paper on the most appropriate parliaments to visit.
The Committee considered whether the Chairperson should issue Christmas Cards on behalf of the Committee to the list of named organisations and individuals provided.
Agreed: Members agreed that the Chairperson should issue Christmas Cards to those on the list provided.
The Committee also considered whether the Chairperson should issue Christmas Cards to Chairpersons of relevant Committees in the other United Kingdom Parliaments and in the Houses of the Oireachtas.
Agreed: Members agreed that the Chairperson should issue Christmas Cards to Chairpersons of the relevant Committees.
The Committee considered the invitation to an informal dinner from the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee during the Committee’s visit to meet with the Equal Opportunities Committees in Cardiff.
Agreed: Members agreed to accept this invitation.
11. Date of next meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 26 November 2008 at 2.00 p.m. in Room 144.
3.54 p.m. The Chairperson adjourned the meeting