COMMITTEE FOR THE OFFICE OF THE FIRST MINISTER AND DEPUTY
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
WEDNESDAY 15 SEPTEMBER 2010
ROOM 30, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Mr Danny Kennedy (Chairperson)
Dr Stephen Farry (Deputy Chairperson)
Ms Martina Anderson
Mr Allan Bresland
Mr Trevor Clarke
Mr Tom Elliott
Mrs Dolores Kelly
Mr Jimmy Spratt
Mrs Cathie White (Assembly Clerk)
Mr Keith McBride (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Mr Stephen Magee (Clerical Supervisor)
Mrs Marion Johnson (Clerical Officer)
Mrs Sian Woodward (Bill Clerk) Item 5 only
Mr Ray McCaffrey (Researcher) Item 5 only
Ms Patricia Casey (Bill Clerk) Item 9 only
The meeting opened in public session at 2.07 p.m.
Mr Barry McElduff and Mr George Robinson.
2. Chairperson’s Business
Declaration of Interests
The Chairperson sought any declarations of interest from Members in relation to items of business being discussed.
Change in Committee Membership
The Chairperson welcomed Mr Allan Bresland and Mr Trevor Clarke to the Committee and wished them well in their new positions.
Agreed: The Chairperson agreed to write to the outgoing member Mr. Stephen Moutray MLA, to express the Committee’s thanks for his work on the Committee.
3. Draft minutes of the meeting held on 8 September 2010
Agreed: The draft minutes of proceedings of 8 September 2010 were agreed by the Committee.
4. September Monitoring Round
Departmental officials joined the meeting at 2.10 p.m.
Departmental officials Mrs Jackie Kerr and Mrs Nicky Brady briefed the Committee on the September Monitoring Round. A question and answer session followed.
Mrs Kelly joined the meeting at 2.20 p.m.
Departmental officials left the meeting at 2.22 p.m.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to defer the scrutiny of the Annual Report and Resource Accounts and briefing until the next meeting to allow further time for consideration.
5. Proposed Legislation to provide for a Public Services Ombudsman for Northern Ireland
Mr Ray McCaffrey of the Assembly’s Research and Library Services briefed the Committee on his research paper on the Proposed Legislation to provide for a Public Services Ombudsman for Northern Ireland. A Question and answer session followed.
A Departmental official joined the meeting at 2.34 p.m.
Departmental official Mrs Jackie Kerr briefed the Committee on the possible legislation to provide for a Public Services Ombudsman for Northern Ireland. A question and answer session followed.
The Departmental official left the meeting at 2.45 p.m.
Mr Elliott joined the meeting at 2.48 p.m.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to a number of proposed amendments to the Committee’s consultation document and that the amended version would be released for public consultation. The Committee also agreed that public notices would be placed in local newspapers requesting written evidence on the consultation paper which will be issued to a list of consultees. The Committee agreed to ask Research and Library Services to draw up a list of consultees and for Committee staff to draft a public notice for consideration at next week’s meeting.
6. Matters Arising
European Commission’s Communication on the Rights of the Child
The Committee considered a response from the Department providing information on the European Commission’s Communication on the Rights of the Child.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward a copy of the European Commission’s Communication and the Department’s response to all statutory committees for their information. The Committee also agreed to write to the Department to request copies of responses from all departments.
Independent Review of the Dioxin Incident in Northern Ireland December 2008
The Committee considered correspondence from the Department concerning a Review of the handling and communications of the Dioxin incident including a copy of the report.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the report and wait for the proposals for responding to the recommendations and the draft action plan.
The Redeployment of Planning Service Staff
The Committee considered a memo from the Committee for the Environment concerning the backlog being faced by the Planning Appeals Commission and drawing the Committee’s attention to the excess staff within the Planning Service which could be used to help the Planning Appeals Commission.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to seek further information on what action the Department are taking in relation to the backlog and to draw their attention to his excess of staff within the Planning Service.
Quarry Products Association Northern Ireland
The Committee noted a memo from the Committee for Regional Development concerning an application to the European Commission for State Aid Approval for a continued 80% rebate on the Aggregates Levy that is imposed on the industry.
Royal College of Psychiatrists
The Committee noted a copy of a letter to the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister commending comments from the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety and the Minister for Social Development regarding the necessity to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol and to ask for the First Minister deputy First Minister’s support in bring this to the Executive.
Action for Children
The Committee noted a copy of a letter to the First Minister from Action for Children outlining their input to the Comprehensive Spending Review Process in Northern Ireland.
8. Any Other Business
No other business.
9. Commissioner for Older People Bill
The meeting moved into closed session at 2.55 p.m.
The Committee considered legal advice from the Assembly’s Legal Services concerning the Commissioner for Older People.
The meeting moved into open session at 3.00 p.m.
Departmental officials joined the meeting at 3.02 p.m.
Dr Farry joined the meeting at 3.33 p.m.
Mr Spratt left the meeting at 3.40 p.m.
Departmental officials Mrs Jane Corderoy, Mr Stephen Orr and Mr Chris McCafferty briefed the Committee on the Commissioner for Older People Bill. A question and answer session followed.
Mr Kennedy and Mr Clarke declared an interest in relation to the Presbyterian Mutual Society
The Committee commenced its formal clause-by-clause scrutiny of the Bill.
Clause 1 – The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland
Clause 2 – Principle Aim of the Commissioner
Clause 3 – Duties of the Commissioner
Question put and agreed: The Committee is content with Clauses 1-3 as drafted.
Mr Spratt re-joined the meeting at 3.46 p.m.
Clause 4 – General Powers of the Commissioner
Clause 5 – General Review of Advocacy, Complaint, Inspection and Whistle-Blowing Arrangements of Relevant Authorities
Clause 6 – Review of Advocacy, Complaint, Inspection and Whistle-Blowing Arrangements of Relevant Authorities in Individual Cases
Clause 7 – Assistance with Complaints to Relevant Authorities
Clause 8 – Investigation of Complaints against Relevant Authorities
Clause 9 – Actions which may be Investigated: Restrictions and Exclusions
Clause 10 – Power to Bring, Intervene or Assist in Legal Proceedings
Clause 11 – Assistance in relation to Legal Proceedings
Question put and agreed: The Committee is content with Clauses 4-11 as drafted.
Clause 12 – Conciliation of Disputes
Question put and agreed: The Committee recommends to the Assembly that Clause 12 be amended as agreed between the Committee and the Department and that the Committee agrees to the text of the amendment.
Clause 13 – Formal Investigations
Clause 14 – Formal Investigations: Exclusions
Clause 15 – Report on Formal Investigation
Clause 16 – Further Action Following Report on Formal Investigations
Clause 17 – Evidence in Formal Investigations
Clause 18 – Powers of Entry and Inspection for Purposes of Formal Investigation
Clause 19 – Obstruction and Contempt in Relation to Formal Investigations
Clause 20 – Disclosure of Information by Commissioner
Question put and agreed: The Committee is content with Clauses 13-20 as drafted.
Clause 21 – Review of Act
Question put and agreed: The Committee recommends to the Assembly that Clause 21 be amended as agreed between the Committee and the Department and that the Committee agrees to the text of the amendment.
Clause 22 – Privilege for Certain Publications
Clause 23 – Application of this Act: Relevant Authorities with Mixed Functions
Clause 24 – Application of this Act: Matters Arising before Commencement
Clause 25 – Interpretation: “Older Person”
Clause 26 – Interpretation: “Relevant Authority”
Question put and agreed: The Committee is content with Clauses 22-26 as drafted.
Clause 27 – Interpretation: General
Question put and agreed: The Committee recommends to the Assembly that Clause 27 be amended as agreed between the Committee and the Department and that the Committee agrees to the text of the amendment.
Clause 28 – Commencement
Clause 29 – Short Title
Question put and agreed: The Committee is content with Clauses 28-29 as drafted.
Schedule 1 – The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland
Schedule 2 – Investigation under Section 4(4) [S3]
Schedule 3 – Relevant Authorities
Question put and agreed: The Committee is content with Schedules 1-3 as drafted.
10. Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting will be held in Room 30 on Wednesday 15 September 2010 at 2 p.m.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 4.16 p.m.
Mr Danny Kennedy
Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister
8 September 10 / Menu