COMMITTEE FOR THE OFFICE OF THE FIRST MINISTER AND DEPUTY FIRST MINISTER
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
WEDNESDAY 14 JANUARY 2009
ROOM 144, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Present: Mr Danny Kennedy (Chairperson)
Mrs Naomi Long (Deputy Chairperson)
Ms Martina Anderson
Mr Tom Elliott
Mrs Dolores Kell
Mr Ian McCrea
Mr Barry McElduff
Mr Jim Shannon
Mr Jimmy Spratt
In Attendance: 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)
Mr Denis Arnold (Bill Clerk)
2.45 p.m. The meeting opened in public session.
Mr Stephen Moutray.
2. Chairperson’s Business
Publication of Minutes of Evidence
Agreed: The Committee agreed to publish the corrected Minutes of Evidence in relation to the Committee’s consideration of European issues on the Committee’s webpage.
Visit to Scottish European and External Relations Committee
The Chairperson advised Members of the arrangements for the Committee’s visit to Edinburgh to meet with the Scottish European and External Relations Committee on Wednesday 4 February 2009. Members are to advise the Committee Office of their availability.
Consideration of European Issues Written Submissions Folder
The Committee noted the folder of written submissions in relation to the Committee’s consideration of European issues. The Committee were content that small to medium businesses were covered by the submission from the Federation of Small Businesses.
3. Draft minutes of the meetings held on 5 and 7 January 2009
Agreed: The draft minutes of proceedings were agreed by the Committee.
4. Action for Children
2.51 p.m. Representatives from Action for Children joined the meeting.
Mrs Dawn Shaw, Operational director of Children’s Services, Mr Paul McConville, Assistant Director of Children’s Services and Mr Ross McCrea, Policy and Public Affairs Manager briefed the Committee on the work of Action for Children. A question and answer session followed.
3.30 p.m. Mr McCrea left the meeting.
3.42 p.m. Representatives from Action for Children left the meeting.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister seeking further information on the status of young carers as a priority grouping and how this has been incorporated into the Programme for Government and relevant Performance Service Agreements. The Committee also agreed to request that the issue of young carers is placed on the agenda for consideration by the Ministerial sub-committee on Children and Young People.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to Northern Ireland’s Members of Parliament to request that they include amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill which will benefit young carers and specifically in relation to carers allowance for young carers.
5. December Monitoring Round Outcome
3.44 p.m. An Official from OFMDFM joined the meeting.
Mrs Jackie Kerr briefed the Committee on the outcome of the December Monitoring Round. A question and answer session followed.
3.48 p.m. The Official from OFMDFM left the meeting.
6. Matters arising
Construction Industry and Investment Strategy
The Committee considered the response from the First Minister and deputy First Minister concerning the Construction Industry and Investment Strategy.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to OFMDFM to highlight the importance of utilising the social requirements of public procurement as a way of assisting the effects of the economic downturn. The Committee also agreed to seek further information on the Strategic Investment Board’s Programme Board Membership.
NISRA Report on Sick Absence
The Committee considered the response from the Minister for Finance and Personnel regarding issues in the NISRA Report on Sick Absence and provisions for reporting industrial staff sick absence.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister for Finance and Personnel to ask him to consider a more corporate and consistent approach to reporting and monitoring industrial staff sick absence.
3.53 p.m. Mr McCrea joined the meeting.
The Committee noted the responses from: the Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure; the Minister for Enterprise; Trade and Investment; the Minister for Regional Development; and the Minister for Social Development concerning the construction industry and the economic downturn.
The Committee noted the response from OFMDFM concerning Gender Equality, the Committee will consider further when briefed by the Department.
Commissioner for Public Appointments (Amendment) Order (Northern Ireland) 2008
The Committee noted the signed copy of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (Amendment) Order (Northern Ireland) 2008.
3.55 p.m. Mr Spratt left the meeting.
Crumlin Road Gaol/Girdwood Park
The Committee noted the response from the Clerk to the Committee for Social Development concerning Crumlin Road Gaol/Girdwood Park.
West Side Regeneration District Regeneration Plan
The Committee noted the information provided by the Clerk to the Committee for Social Development concerning the West Side Regeneration District Regeneration Plan.
Research Briefing on the Northern Ireland Taskforce
The Committee noted the Research Briefing on the Northern Ireland Taskforce provided by the Assembly’s Research and Library Services.
Committee for the Environment Inquiry into Climate Change
The Committee noted the Committee for the Environment’s aim and terms of reference for its inquiry into Climate Change.
COSAC Subsidiarity Check: Organ Donation
The Committee considered the COSAC Subsidiarity Check from the House of Lords European Sub-Committee G. The Committee agreed to respond to the House of Lords EU Sub-Committee G stating that it has no comment to make at this time.
Committee for Finance and Personnel
The Committee considered a copy of a letter from the Department for Finance and Personnel to the Committee for Finance and Personnel concerning the potential claw back of European funding.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Committee for Finance and Personnel requesting details for each Department of the amount of potential EU funding claw-back.
Members considered the letter from Sustrans requesting a meeting with the Committee.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Chairperson, the Deputy Chairperson and any other interested Members meet with Sustrans on a suitable date.
Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People
Members considered a request from the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People to hold a Committee meeting in the Commissioner’s Office and to receive a briefing from the Commissioner.
Agreed: The Committee agreed not to hold a Committee meeting in the Commissioner’s Offices at this time, the Committee also agreed to schedule the briefing for a later date.
4.04 p.m. Mr Spratt joined the meeting.
8. Financial Assistance Bill
4.05 p.m. The meeting moved into closed session.
4.05 p.m. Officials from OFMDFM joined the meeting.
Dr Gerry Mulligan and Mr Jim Hamilton briefed the Committee on the proposed amendments to the Financial Assistance Bill. A question and answer session followed.
4.27 p.m. Mr McElduff left the meeting.
4.30 p.m. Officials from OFMDFM left the meeting.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to hold an emergency meeting of the Committee at 12 noon on Monday 19 January 2009 to further consider the Executive’s amendments to the Financial Assistance Bill.
9. Any other business
10. Date of next meeting
The next meeting will be held on Monday 19 January 2009 at 12 noon in Room 144.
4.38 p.m. The Chairperson adjourned the meeting