COMMITTEE FOR THE OFFICE OF THE FIRST MINISTER AND DEPUTY FIRST MINISTER
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
WEDNESDAY 18 FEBRUARY 2009
ROOM 144, PARLIAMENT bUILDINGS
Present: Mr Danny Kennedy (Chairperson)
Ms Martina Anderson
Mr Tom Elliott
Mrs Dolores Kelly
Mr Ian McCrea
Mr Francie Molloy
Mr Stephen Moutray
Mr Jim Shannon
Mr Jimmy Spratt
In Attendance: Mrs Nuala Dunwoody (Clerk Assistant)
Ms Aoibhinn Treanor (Assembly Clerk)
Mrs Linda Gregg (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Mr Colin Wilson (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Ms Helena Maginness (Clerical Officer)
Mr James Quinn (Clerical Officer)
Mr Tim Moore (Senior Researcher)
2.03 p.m. The meeting opened in public session.
Mrs Naomi Long (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Barry McElduff.
2.05 p.m. Ms Anderson joined the meeting.
2. Chairperson’s Business
European inquiry – fact-finding visit to London
The Committee noted the travel arrangements for the visit to London on Wednesday 4 March 2009.
European inquiry – fact-finding visit to Barcelona
Members noted the Clerk’s brief in regard to the Committee’s visit to Barcelona.
European inquiry – Saxony-Anhalt
Members noted that the Committee would meet with representatives of the Saxony-Anhalt Parliament in the Scottish Parliament before the commencement of the Europa Day Seminar on 7 May 2009.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that this meeting would take the place of the planned fact-finding visit to the Saxony-Anhalt Parliament in Magdeburg.
European inquiry - Scottish Parliament’s European and External Relations Committee
Members noted that the Convenor of the European and External Relations Committee had agreed to give oral evidence to the Committee in regard to its inquiry into European issues.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to hear oral evidence from the Convenor of the European and External Relations Committee and her Clerk.
European inquiry – National Assembly for Wales’ European and External Relations Committee
Members noted that the European and External Relations Committee had agreed to give oral evidence to the Committee in regard to its inquiry into European issues.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that a video-conference with the Committee would take the place of the planned fact-finding visit to Wales.
Invitations and request to brief the Committee
The Chairperson advised Members that he had received an invitation from the University of Ulster to attend the Chancellor’s Lecture “Lessons from the Northern Ireland Peace Process”, to be delivered by Mr Jonathan Powell at the University of Ulster, York Street Campus at 6.30 pm on Friday 6 March 2009.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that Mr Kennedy should attend the event in his capacity as Chairperson.
The Chairperson advised that he had received a request to brief the Committee from Autism NI.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to refer this request for briefing to the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety.
The Chairperson advised Members that the Assembly’s External Liaison Unit had issued an email through the Clerk in regard to him attending a Commonwealth Day event in the Long Gallery on Monday 9 March 2009.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that Mr Kennedy should attend the event in his capacity as Chairperson.
The Chairperson asked Members to note the invitation received from the Women’s National Commission to a free event on Monday 23 February 2009, on the UK’s international commitments and activities at the United Nations.
3. Draft minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday 11 February 2009
Agreed: The draft minutes of proceedings were agreed by the Committee.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department asking whether it was consulted about the relocation of Project Kelvin from Derry/Londonderry to Coleraine, and for further details regarding the matter.
4. Consideration of European issues
The Chairperson asked Members to note the report on the Committee’s fact-finding visit to the Scottish Parliament on 4 February 2009.
2.12 p.m. Laura Leonard, European Manager for Belfast City Council, joined the meeting.
2.14 p.m. Mr Shannon joined the meeting.
The representative from Belfast City Council briefed the Committee on the Council’s work on European issues. This was followed by a question and answer session.
2.37 p.m. Laura Leonard left the meeting.
2.38 p.m. Olga Murtagh, Cllr Jonathan McGibbon and Nicola Wilson from Craigavon Borough Council joined the meeting.
The representatives from Craigavon Borough Council briefed the Committee on the Council’s work on European issues. This was followed by a question and answer session.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that Craigavon Borough Council would forward more information to the Committee on EU funding drawn down by the council.
3.10 p.m. Mr Shannon left the meeting.
3.13 p.m. The representatives from Craigavon Borough Council left the meeting.
3.14 p.m. Mrs Kelly left the meeting.
3.14 p.m. Oonagh McGillion, Director of Development and Tony Monaghan, Acting Senior Economic Development Officer from Derry City Council joined the meeting.
3.29 p.m. Mr Elliott left the meeting.
3.39 p.m Mrs Kelly rejoined the meeting.
The representatives from Derry City Council briefed the Committee on the Council’s work on European issues. This was followed by a question and answer session.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to seek further information regarding issues of flexibility and match funding raised in the evidence session.
3.47 p.m. Ms Anderson left the meeting.
5. Committee’s initial response to the Executive’s Action Plan
The Committee considered the draft initial response to the Executive’s Action Plan.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that the draft was a balanced reflection of the Committee’s views.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to send the response to the Executive via the Department and to ask the Department what the next steps in this process would be.
3.52 p.m. Mr Moutray left the meeting.
3.53 p.m. Ms Anderson rejoined the meeting.
3.57 p.m. Ms Anderson left the meeting.
3.57 p.m. Mr Elliott rejoined the meeting.
6. HM Government’s Proposals for a Child Poverty Bill
3.54 p.m. OFMDFM officials joined the meeting.
Michael Pollock, Patricia Carey and Alan McClelland briefed the Committee on HM Government’s proposals for a Child Poverty Bill. This was followed by a question and answer session.
4.30 p.m. OFMDFM officials left the meeting.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to submit a response to the consultation.
Agreed: The Committee further agreed to ask the Department for a timescale regarding to the production of indicators to monitor the outcomes of the Lifetime Opportunities strategy.
7. Matters arising
Healthy Ageing Seminar Presentations
Members noted details of the Healthy Ageing event held on Thursday 13 November 2008 provided by the Department’s Assembly Liaison Officer.
Members noted the information provided by the Department’s Assembly Liaison Officer in response to the Clerk’s letter of 16 January 2009.
Clawback of European Grants
Members considered the response from the Department of Finance and Personnel on the subject of the potential clawback of European Grants.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write again to the Department of Finance and Personnel highlighting the Committee’s continuing concerns as to whether this matter would have a knock-on impact on the Executive’s current budget.
4.34 p.m. Mr Molloy left the meeting.
Action for Children
Members noted the letters from Eddie McGrady MP (South Down) and the Rt Hon Jeffrey Donaldson MP MLA in response to the Committee’s correspondence concerning amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill which would benefit young carers and specifically in relation to the provision of Carers Allowance for these young people.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to provide the MPs with relevant background papers and also to ask young people’s organisations to liaise with the MPs to clarify what specific amendments are required to the Welfare Reform Bill to benefit the young carers.
Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS)
The Committee considered the correspondence from the Chairperson of the Committee for the Environment in response to the Department’s Assembly Liaison Officer’s letter of 15 January 2009 and particularly that the Committee for the Environment has sought clarification on the Office of the First and deputy First Minister’s policy in this area.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the Chairperson’s letter to OFMDFM.
Inquiry into Public Procurement Policy and Practice in Northern Ireland
A Senior Researcher briefed the Committee on the successful use of social clauses in public procurement practice. The Committee considered the research presented, the submission made by one member – Ms Martina Anderson – and discussed action.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that a draft response be collated and presented at the next meeting for submission to the inquiry.
Request for additional time to respond to Barroso Task Force Report
Agreed: The Committee agreed to the request from the Regional Development Committee for an extension to the deadline for response.
Follow-up to the Committee’s Report on Child Poverty
Agreed: Members noted the letter from the Regional Development Committee asking the Department for Regional Development for updates on its Child Poverty actions; and agreed to ask the Committee to keep it informed on progress.
Forward Work Programme
The Committee noted the updated forward work programme running to Easter Recess, and the tabled paper summarising dates for members’ diaries in connection with the European Inquiry.
Invitation to the Scottish Parliament’s Europe Day Seminar
Agreed: The Committee agreed to confirm which party delegates would accompany the Chairperson to this event on 7 and 8 May 2009.
DARD letter on Compensation for Agrifood Industry
Members noted the correspondence from James Allister QC MEP regarding compensation in the wake of the dioxin contamination.
Sustainable Development Strategy Letter
Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward a letter from the Social Development Committee to the First and deputy First Ministers.
Impact of Fuel Poverty on Children
Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward a letter and briefing from the Social Development Committee to the First and deputy First Ministers.
Ilex and Regeneration of Derry/Londonderry
Agreed: The Committee agreed to note this correspondence from joint Ministers and to request an update on arrangements concerning the end of IDF funding.
NIAO Public Service Agreements Report
Members noted the report by the Comptroller and Auditor General on measuring performance in PSAs.
OFMDFM Resource Accounts
Members noted the Department’s resource accounts for the year ending 31 March 2009.
Financial Assistance Bill – household fuel payment scheme
Members noted confirmation that the determination and designation signalled at the previous meeting had been passed by the Executive.
9. Date of next meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 25 February 2008 at 2.00 p.m. in Room 144.
4.53 p.m. The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.