COMMITTEE FOR THE OFFICE OF THE FIRST MINISTER AND DEPUTY FIRST MINISTER
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
WEDNESDAY 23 APRIL 2008
SENATE CHAMBER, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Danny Kennedy (Chairperson)
Naomi Long (Deputy Chairperson)
Damien Martin (Assembly Clerk)
Antonia Hoskins (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Keith McBride (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Lynda Mulholland (Clerical Supervisor)
Marion Johnson (Clerical Assistant)
Martin Wilson (Principal Clerk of Bills)
Zoë Robinson (Assembly Researcher)
The meeting opened at 2.08 p.m. in public session
Tom Elliott, Barry McElduff.
2. Chairperson’s Business
Commission for Victims and Survivors Bill
The Chairperson advised Members that the Agenda had been revised to take account of the offer from Junior Ministers to brief the Committee in relation to the Commission for Victims and Survivors Bill.
Review of Child Poverty
Members were advised of the plans for the informal meeting on 30 April 2008 to review the evidence received during the Child Poverty Inquiry. Members noted that the following expert witnesses agreed to present to the Committee during the review meeting: Jim Walsh (Combat Poverty); Peter Kenway (New Policy Institute); Marina Monteith (Save the Children); and Goretti Horgan ( University of Ulster).
European Peace Programme Founders
The Chairperson advised Members that he and the Deputy Chairperson had been invited to a reception to honour the European Union Peace Programme Founders on Monday 28 April 2008 in Parliament Buildings and that he hoped to attend, subject to diary constraints.
3. Draft minutes of the meeting held on 16 April 2008
The minutes of proceedings for Wednesday 16 April 2008 were agreed by the Committee.
4. Matters Arising
OFMDFM response on Crossing Cutting Priorities in the PFG
The Committee noted the response from OFMDFM and agreed to consider the need for research to examine how resources are directed to those most in need during deliberations on the Child Poverty Report.
Programme for Cohesion and Integration
The Committee noted the written details of the briefing from OFMDFM following their attendance on 9 April 2008. The Committee agreed to request comparative research on matters to be addressed by the Programme for Cohesion and Integration.
Timescale for the removal of exemptions for operators of transport services from part III of DDA
The Committee discussed the proposed timescale for the regulations and agreed to propose that OFMDFM should consider an earlier commencement of the consultation process.
Ci-NI response to OFMDFM’s Children and Young People’s Action Plan 2007-08
The Committee noted the response from Children in Northern Ireland to OFMDFM’s Children and Young People’s Action Plan 2007-08 and agreed to return to the issue following consideration of the response by the All Party Group on Children and Young People. Mrs Kelly suggested that details of the children’s project being supported by Atlantic Philanthropies in Craigavon be brought to the attention of the Committee.
Copy letter to the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure on the Maze/Long Kesh
The Committee noted the copy letter from the First Minister and deputy First Minster to the Chairperson of the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure regarding a request for the Strategic Investment Board’s assessment of the outline business case for the multi-sports stadium at the Maze/Long Kesh.
Response from OFMDFM on Maze/Long Kesh estimated job creation
The Committee noted the response from OFMDFM and the extract from the Masterplan detailing the estimated number of jobs created should the Maze/Long Kesh site be developed in line with the Masterplan proposals.
5. US-NI Investment Conference
Junior Minster Donaldson and Junior Minister Kelly and departmental officials joined the meeting at 2.21 p.m.
Ms Anderson joined the meeting at 2.22 p.m.
Junior Minister Donaldson and Junior Minister Kelly accompanied by Departmental Officials, Gráinne McVeigh, Colin Jack, Caroline Webb, and Tom Watson, briefed the Committee on the plans for the forthcoming US-NI Investment Conference.
The Committee questioned the Junior Ministers on the plans for the conference; progress made in the recruitment of potential investors and on the commitment by OFMDFM to ensure that all parts of Northern Ireland might receive benefit from those attending the conference.
The Committee also sought confirmation from the Junior Ministers that Members would be updated, following the conference, on how investors were made aware of the investment opportunities throughout Northern Ireland. Junior Minister Kelly advised that a copy of the programme and information on those attending the conference would be provided to the Committee.
6. Commission for Victims and Survivors Bill
Junior Minister Donaldson and Junior Minister Kelly accompanied by Departmental Officials, Gráinne McVeigh, Colin Jack, Caroline Webb, and Tom Watson, briefed the Committee on the position in relation to the Commission for Victims and Survivors Bill.
Following questions from Members of the Committee, Junior Minister Donaldson advised the Committee that all competent amendments were currently under consideration by the First Minister and deputy First Minister and that Ministers were considering putting forward their own amendments. Junior Minster Kelly advised of the intention to move the Consideration Stage of the Bill on 06 May 2008.
The Chairperson thanked Junior Minister Donaldson and Junior Minister Kelly and their departmental officials for attending the meeting.
Hansard recorded the evidence session.
Junior Minister Donaldson and Junior Minister Kelly and departmental officials left the meeting at 3.35 p.m.
Members discussed a number of issues relating to Commission for Victims and Survivors Bill and agreed to request that the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson be updated on progress to establish an agreed position on the proposed amendments to the Bill.
7. Public Authorities Reform Bill
The Committee discussed the scope and content of the Public Authorities Reform Bill and agreed to seek the rationale for the retention of a number of quangos. Members also agreed to seek clarification from the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development on the action it wishes the Committee to take in relation to the Bill.
8. Sex Discrimination Order 1976 (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2008
Members were advised that theSex Discrimination Order 1976 (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2008 had been laid subject to negative resolution on 4 April 2008.
In considering the response from the Equality Commission on the Order, Members raised a number of concerns in relation to the requirement within the legislation for harassment to have occurred on two occasions by a third party. The Committee agreed to write to OFMDFM expressing its reservations and to seek information on how the department intends to address this issue and the timetable for action.
The Committee agreed that:
“The Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister has considered the Sex Discrimination Order 1976 (Amendment) Regs (NI) 2008 and subject to the report of the Examiner of Statutory Rules has no objection to the rule.”
9. Disability Discrimination (Guidance on the Definition of Disability) (Revocation) Order 2008
Members were advised that Disability Discrimination (Guidance on the Definition of Disability) (Revocation) Order 2008 was a technical rule revoking guidance in order to allow new guidance already considered by the Committee to come into effect.
The Committee agreed that:
“The Committee for the Office of the First Minster and deputy First Minister has considered the Disability Discrimination (Guidance on the Definition of Disability) (Revocation) Order 2008and subject to the report of the Examiner of Statutory Rules has no objection to the rule.”
10. Disability Current Protection, Comparative Analyses
Zoë Robinson, a Researcher from the Assembly Research and Library Services briefed the Committee on the current protection offered to people with disabilities in Northern Ireland and on legislative protection for people with disabilities in countries throughout the world. Members sought and were provided with clarification on a number of issues.
11. Report on the Northern Ireland Task Force
The Committee noted the Communication from the European Commission on the Northern Ireland Task Force. Members were informed that the Committee hoped to receive a briefing by OFMDFM on the taskforce in June when it visits Brussels.
Response to OCPANI on Diversity and Prerogative Order
The Committee notedthe letter sent by the Chairperson in response to the correspondence from the Commissioner for Public Appointments regarding issues raised at the Committee meeting on 9 April 2008.
Neighbourhood Renewal – request from Committee for Social Development
The Committee agreed to forward the request from the Committee for Social Development to OFMDFM regarding the decision by the Minister for Social Development to transfer responsibility for Neighbourhood Renewal to local government.
Letter from Consumer Council
The Committee noted the correspondence from the Consumer Council, advising of £12 million lying in forgotten bank accounts in Northern Ireland, and of the Council’s intention to assist consumers retrieve the forgotten sums.
13. Any Other Business
Forward Work Programme
The Committee briefly discussed the Forward Work Programme and the Clerk advised Members of the items of business to be considered in meetings over the next month. The Committee agreed to write to the Minster for Finance and Personnel, through the Committee for Finance and Personnel, seeking a timeframe for his consideration of the business case for the Maze/Longkesh regeneration.
14. Date of next meeting
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 7 May 2008 at 2.00 p.m. in Room 144.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 4.50 p.m.