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Mr Edwin Poots MLA (Chairperson)
Mr Oliver Gibson MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Roy Beggs Jnr MLA
Mrs Eileen Bell MLA
Dr Esmond Birnie MLA
Mr Danny Kennedy MLA
Ms Patricia Lewsley MLA
Dr Alasdair McDonnell MLA
Mr Barry McElduff MLA
Mr Eugene McMenamin MLA
Dr Dara O'Hagan MLA
Mr Ken Robinson MLA
Mr Jim Shannon MLA

Mrs Annie Courtney MLA
Mr David Ervine MLA

In Attendance:
Ms Stella McArdle (Committee Clerk)
Mrs Gillian Lewis
Ms Victoria Surplus
Mr Gary Tate
Ms Pauline Innes

The meeting opened at 2.05pm in public session.

1. Apologies

Apologies are listed above.

2. Chairperson's business

The Chairperson congratulated the Clerk on her marriage and wished her well for the future. The Chairperson also informed members of the death of Mrs Pritchard's mother-in-law and the Committee extended its sympathy to Mrs Pritchard in her loss.

Ms Lewsley joined the meeting at 2.07pm.

Mrs Bell joined the meeting at 2.07pm.

Mr Kennedy joined the meeting at 2.07pm.

(a) Reinvestment and Reform Initiative (RRI): The Chairperson advised members of a letter he had received from the First Minister and Deputy First Minister about proposed legislation on this initiative, on which neither Members nor the public had previously been consulted. Members discussed the proposal and agreed to write to OFMDFM on the following issues:

- members wished to express concern over the lack of advance notice provided on the proposed Bill and ask for further information as soon as possible;

- members requested an evidence session with the First Minister and Deputy First Minister as soon as possible, and before the end of September 2002;

- Assembly research should be asked to provide a list of possible witnesses and experts in this field as well as some models from other areas; and

- OFMDFM should be asked to forward the three progress reports from the body set up to oversee the strategic investment section of the RRI. The Deputy First Minister agreed that the reports should be copied to the Committee when he attended the Committee meeting on 3 July 2002.

Action: Clerk

(b) Committee staff changes: The Chairperson informed members that the Clerk, Mr Hugh Farren, had been transferred to the post of Clerk to the Assembly Commission, and that Mr Gary Tate will replace Ms Victoria Surplus who is leaving the Committee office staff shortly. The Committee wished each well in their new area of work. The Chairperson also advised the Committee that he has arranged a meeting with the Clerk Assistant, Ms Nuala Dunwoody, to discuss staffing issues, and will report back to members.

(c) Meeting with the Review of Public Administration (RPA) Team: The Chairperson advised members that he had met with the RPA Team on 8 August 2002 and issues discussed were detailed in a letter from OFMDFM dated 15 August 2002.

Mr Beggs joined the meeting at 2.15pm.

3. Approval of draft minutes

The minutes from the previous meetings held on 3 July 2002 and 27 August 2002 were agreed and signed by the Chairperson. Mrs Bell requested a fuller record of the meeting with the Foreign Secretary, Mr Jack Straw MP.

Action: Clerk

4. Matters arising


5. Correspondence

The Committee considered and noted the following items of correspondence received over the summer recess:

(a) First Report of the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission.

(b) June Newsletter from the Victims Liaison Unit of the Northern Ireland Office.

(c) Correspondence about the criteria used by the US Sub Committee on Government Efficiency to score the Report Card used to measure the performance of federal agencies.

(d) Letter from the Chief Executive of the NI Association of the Citizens Advice Bureaux and CAB Newsletter about their IT infrastructure model: Members agreed to invite the Chief Executive to give evidence at a future meeting on the Review of Public Administration.

Action: Clerk

(e) Letter from the First Minister and Deputy First Minister about the proposed amendment to the 1976 EC Equal Treatment Directive.

(f) Copy of Programme for Government Summary Leaflet.

(g) Letter from OFMDFM informing members of the changes in personnel within the department.

(h) Response from the Employment and Learning Committee on issues within the Executive's Position Report which relate to the development of the Programme for Government for 2003/04.

(i) OFMDFM update on the Victims Strategy.

(j) OFMDFM update on research work commissioned by the department: Members agreed to ask OFMDFM for copies of the research reports and that a copy of future research reports should be sent to the Committee. Mrs Bell also requested a copy of the Monitoring Report by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

Action: Clerk

(k) Response from OFMDFM on funding for Women's Groups.

(l) Report of the SAP Senior Briefing on "E-Government - an International Perspective" on 20 June 2002 in London.

(m) Response from OFMDFM to the Committee's comments on the Consultation on Public Private Partnerships.

(n) Letter from the Committee for Finance and Personnel about an extension to the final submission date on Review of Rating Policy.

(o) Letter from the Social Development Committee about the Housing Bill and Housing Support Services Bill: Members agreed that they had no comment on the Bills as they fall outside the remit of the Committee.

(p) Report on the "Northern Ireland and the Future of Europe" Conference held on 27 June 2002.

(q) Letter from Mr Peter Smyth, Director, Northern Ireland Bureau in Washington.

Mr McElduff joined the meeting at 2.24pm.

(r) Letters from the Children's Law Centre and Save the Children about UN Committee on the Rights of the Child - Concluding Observations and Recommendations.

(s) Letter from Department of Finance and Personnel about the Executive Programme Funds.

(t) OFMDFM Position Paper on funding for Women's Groups: Members requested further information on Women's Groups in peril and on the current position regarding the Harbison review.

Action: Clerk

(u) Report of a seminar attended by Mr Gibson and Dr McDonnell in the German Information Centre, on the subject of the region and the EU.

(v) OFMDFM update on the Disability Issues raised at the Committee meeting on 19 June 2002.

(w) Copy of the consultation document on Screening of Social Security Policies.

(x) Letter from OFMDFM about Needs and Effectiveness Evaluations.

(y) Letter from Committee for Enterprise Trade and Investment to the Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels about the Company Directors Disqualification Bill.

(z) Copy of OFMDFM Corporate and Business Plan.

(aa) Letter from Mr Des McConaghy about the Masternet proposal.

(bb) OFMDFM update on the Review of Public Administration.

(cc) OFMDFM updates on the Race and Gender Strategies.

(dd) Summary Report of the "Northern Ireland and the Future of Europe" Conference on 27 June 2002.

(ee) Correspondence about the fair employment legislation sent for members' information by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland: Members agreed to revisit this issue at a future meeting during the Committee's consideration of the consultation on the Single Equality Bill.

Action: Clerk

(ff) Letter from OFMDFM giving the indicative budget for the Review of Public Administration.

(gg) Invitation from the Scottish Parliament European Committee to attend their major civic participation event on 16 September 2002 about the Convention on the Future of Europe: Members were asked to inform the Committee staff as soon as possible if they wish to attend the event.

6. Committee Stage of Commissioner for Children and Young People Bill

(a) Briefing by Senior Assembly Researcher

The briefing session began at 2.25pm.

Dr McDonnell joined the meeting at 2.27pm.

Mr Tim Moore, Senior Assembly Researcher, gave a clause by clause briefing on the issues in the Bill and answered members' questions.

Mr Kennedy left the meeting at 2.30pm.

Mr Robinson left the meeting at 2.40pm.

Mr McElduff left the meeting at 2.53pm.

Mr Robinson rejoined the meeting at 3.08pm.

The briefing was completed at 3.15pm.

(b) Evidence from Christian Action Research and Education (CARE)

Dr McDonnell left the meeting at 3.17pm.

Mrs Bell left the meeting at 3.17pm.

The Deputy Chairperson took the Chair at 3.17pm.

The evidence session began at 3.17pm. Evidence on the Commissioner for Children and Young People Bill was taken from Ms Alison Laird, Assembly Officer, Mr Philip Gilpin, a CARE consultant on legal matters, and Ms Hilary McDowell, CARE supporter. The minutes of evidence will appear in the Committee's report.

Mr Robinson left the meeting at 3.30pm.

The Chairperson left the meeting at 3.30pm.

Mr McElduff rejoined the meeting at 3.37pm.

The representatives left the meeting at 3.44pm.

Mr Shannon left the meeting at 3.45pm.

(c) Evidence from Child Care NI, Parents' Advice Centre and Barnardos NI

The evidence session began at 3.45pm. Evidence on the Commissioner for Children and Young People Bill was taken from Ms Pauline Leeson, Chairperson, Child Care NI, Mrs Pip Jaffa OBE, Chief Executive, Parents' Advice Centre, and Mr Maurice Leeson, Assistant Director of Strategic Development, Barnardos NI. The minutes of evidence will appear in the Committee's report.

The representatives left the meeting at 4.15pm.

Dr O'Hagan left the meeting at 4.15pm.

7. Draft Work Programme

Members considered and discussed their draft work programme and the OFMDFM Forward Work Programme. It was agreed that this issue would be discussed further at the Committee meeting on 11 September.

Action: Clerk

8. Any other business

(a) Convention on the Future of Europe - publication of evidence

Members agreed to publish the Minutes of Evidence relating to the meeting on Thursday, 20 June 2002 with the UK Representatives to the Convention on the Future of Europe.

Action: Clerk

(b) Assembly Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (Assembly Standards) Bill

The Assembly Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (Assembly Standards) Bill is due to have its Second Reading in next week's Plenary session of the Assembly and will then be referred to the Committee of the Centre for its Committee Stage. Members considered and agreed a programme of evidence for the Committee Stage of the Bill and agreed the draft Public Notice, which will be placed in the national newspapers when the Bill has been referred to the Committee.

Action: Clerk

9. Date and time of next meeting

The next two meetings of the Committee will be held on Monday, 9 September 2002 at 1.30pm in Room 144, Parliament Buildings, and on Wednesday, 11 September 2002 at 2.00pm in Room 144, Parliament Buildings.

At the close of the meeting, members asked for a copy of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Action: Clerk

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 4.33pm.

Chairperson, Committee of the Centre
11 September 2002

4 September 2002 / Menu / 9 September 2002