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Present: Mr Edwin Poots MLA (Chairperson)
Mr Oliver Gibson MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Roy Beggs Jnr MLA
Dr Esmond Birnie MLA
Dr Alasdair McDonnell MLA
Mr Ken Robinson MLA
Mr Jim Shannon MLA

Apologies: Mrs Eileen Bell MLA
Mrs Annie Courtney MLA
Mr Danny Kennedy MLA
Ms Patricia Lewsley MLA
Mr Barry McElduff MLA
Mr Eugene McMenamin MLA

In Attendance: Mr Hugh Farren (Committee Clerk)
Mrs Gillian Lewis
Mr Gary Tate
Mr Michael Norman

The meeting opened at 2.17pm in public session.

1. Apologies

Apologies are listed above.

2. Chairperson's business

Mr Beggs joined the meeting at 2.18pm.

(a) EU Affairs Sub Committee: Members noted that the EU Affairs Sub Committee had experienced difficulty in attaining a quorum for its recent meeting. Members therefore agreed that whilst the membership and quorum of the Sub Committee remain the same, any member of the Committee of the Centre can attend a Sub Committee meeting either in addition to, or as a substitute for, a member of the Sub Committee.

Action: Clerk

(b) NIO Minister or officials attendance at Committee meeting: Members considered a letter to the Chairperson from the NIO about attendance of the Minister or his officials at a meeting of the Committee of the Centre. Members agreed to ask the Lord Alderdice, the Speaker, to take up the issue with the Secretary of State on behalf of the Assembly Committees.

Action: Clerk

3. Approval of draft minutes

The minutes from the previous meeting on 25 September 2002 were agreed and signed by the Chairperson.

4. Matters arising

(a) Committee Work Programme: Members considered and debated the revised Committee Work Programme and agreed that one evidence session arranged for 16 October should be postponed until a later date. The Committee approved the remainder of the work programme.

Action: Clerk

(b) Details of proposed Second Sub Committee: The Chairperson informed members that the Business Committee had deferred a decision on the Motion for a second Sub Committee and asked for further information to be supplied. Members then considered the proposal for a second Sub Committee and agreed the following:

- the Sub Committee will gather evidence under the remit of the Committee of the Centre on the Strategic Investment and Regeneration of Sites Bill, Assembly Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (Assembly Standards) Bill and the Review of Public Administration;

Mr Robinson joined the meeting at 2.25pm.

- the membership of the Sub Committee shall be five with a quorum of three, and there will be a proviso that any member of the Committee of the Centre can attend a Sub Committee meeting, take part in the discussions and question witnesses;

- the Convenor will be elected at the initial meeting of the Sub Committee;

- all members of the Committee of the Centre will receive meeting papers;

- the Sub Committee will meet during October and November 2002 to take evidence;

- meetings of the Sub Committee will be recorded and minuted and agreed by the Committee of the Centre for inclusion in its report.

Action: Clerk

(c) Convention on the Future of Europe: Members noted the views of the Queen's University of Belfast on the Northern Ireland paper on the Future of Europe. Members agreed to forward any comments to the Clerk so that a draft response can be prepared for members' consideration at next week's meeting.

Action: Clerk

5. OFMDFM draft Budget and draft Programme for Government 2003-05

The briefing session began at 2.30pm. Briefing on the draft Budget and draft Programme for Government 2003-05 was taken from the Junior Ministers, Mr Dennis Haughey MLA and Mr James Leslie MLA, accompanied by Mr Edgar Jardine, Director, Economic Policy and Public Safety, Mrs Mary Bunting, Head of Equality Directorate, and Mr Aubrey Playfair, Finance Division, OFMDFM.

Mr Beggs left the meeting at 2.52pm.

Mr Gibson left the meeting at 3.07pm.

The Junior Ministers agreed to provide detailed information on the OFMDFM budget proposals for each of the three years 2003-05, and staffing allocations within the various sections of the department.

Action: Clerk

The Junior Ministers and officials left the meeting at 3.27pm.

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

Departmental Officials: Mr Chris Stewart

                                  Mrs Heather Stevens

The departmental officials joined the meeting at 3.28pm.

The Committee commenced its clause by clause scrutiny of the Bill, taking evidence from the above-named departmental officials. The entire proceedings are recorded in Minutes of Evidence which will form part of the Committee's report.

Clauses 19 - 28

On a number of issues the officials agreed to consider concerns raised by the Committee and bring back proposed amendments to next week's meeting.

Action: Clerk

The officials left the meeting at 3.49pm.

Members noted a briefing paper from CARE which was passed to the Committee for information.

Action: Clerk

7. Any other business


8. Date and time of next meeting

The next meeting of the Committee will be held on Wednesday, 9 October 2002 starting at 10.30am in the Senate Chamber and continuing at 2.00pm in Room 144, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 3.50pm.

Chairperson, Committee of the Centre
9 October 2002

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