THURSDAY, 5 JULY 2007
Room 135, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Mr Gregory Campbell MP MLA (Chairperson)
Mr David Hilditch MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Mickey Brady MLA
Mr Thomas Burns MLA
Mr Jonathan Craig MLA
Ms Anna Lo MLA
Mr Alban Maginness MLA
Mr Fra McCann MLA
Mrs Claire McGill MLA
Mr Alan Patterson (Principal Clerk)
Ms Marie Austin (Assembly Clerk)
Mr Neil Currie (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Mrs Joy Hamilton (Clerical Supervisor)
Mrs Sheila Mawhinney (Clerical Supervisor)
Mrs Lorraine McFarland (Clerical Officer)
Miss Michelle McIlveen MLA
The meeting opened at 11.01am in closed session.
Apologies are detailed above.
11.04am. The meeting moved into public session.
Minutes of the meeting held on 28 June 2007
Mrs McGill requested an amendment to the final sentence in the penultimate paragraph of item 9, so that it read, “ Mr McIntyre also agreed to write to Mrs McGill in response to her concerns raised about bureaucracy that would prevent the speedy resolution of housing issues in Springhill, Strabane.”
Agreed – Subject to this amendment the draft minutes were agreed.
- i The Chairperson informed Members that, as requested by the Committee, the Department had written to the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations in relation to its request for an extension to the deadline for the return of comments on the Proposals for a Procurement Strategy for the Social Housing Development Programme. The deadline had been extended to 31 August 2007.
- ii The Chairperson informed Members of the further information obtained by the Clerk, in relation to the letter from Northern Ireland Alternatives regarding funding
of the organisation.
Agreed – It was agreed to write to Northern Ireland Alternatives pointing out that the
Committee understood that the Department was considering funding for the
organisation, and that it would take into account its request for a meeting if funding
for such groups was on the agenda for consideration in the future.
11.10am. Mr Maginness joined the meeting.
i The Chairperson informed Members that he had been invited by the Northern Ireland
Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA) to speak at a conference it was organising for
14 September 2007 on the role the voluntary and community sector can play in the
Northern Ireland Assembly.
Agreed – The Committee was content for the Chairperson or, in his absence, the Deputy Chairperson to attend the conference and speak as Chairperson of the Committee for Social Development.
ii The Chairperson informed Members that the ILEX Board had requested a meeting
with him to discuss matters in relation to regeneration in Derry/Londonderry.
Agreed – It was agreed to write to the ILEX Board indicating that the Committee would take into account its request for a meeting with the Chairperson when considering urban regeneration matters.
iii The Chairperson informed Members that the Welfare Reform Bill had received Royal Assent and became law on 29 June 2007.
Briefing by Minister and officials on the Comprehensive Spending Review Bids
Minister Margaret Ritchie joined the meeting at 11.12am, accompanied by the following departmental officials:
Bryan Davis – Chief Executive - Social Security Agency
Barney McGahan – Deputy Secretary - Resources, Housing and Social Security Group
Linda MacHugh – Urban Regeneration Strategy Directorate
The Minister briefed the Committee on her Department’s bids in relation to the Comprehensive Spending Review. This was followed by a question and answer session.
The Chairperson thanked the Minister and officials for the informative briefing.
The Minister and officials left the meeting at 12.07pm.
Briefing on proposed Statutory Rules likely to be made during summer recess
The following officials from the Department for Social Development joined the meeting at 12.09pm:
John O’Neill – Director of Social Security Policy & Legislation Division
Gerry McCann – Social Security Policy & Legislation Division
Doreen Roy – Social Security Policy & Legislation Division
Mr O’Neill briefed the Committee on the nature and scope of a number of proposed Statutory Rules likely to be made during summer recess.This was followed by a question and answer session.
The Committee considered the following proposed Statutory Rule:
The Social Security (Claims and Payments) (Amendment No. 3) Regulations (NI) 2007.
12.28pm. Mr Burns left the meeting.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that it required further information on the proposal and would write to the Minister regarding this.
The Committee considered the following proposed Statutory Rule:
The Social Security (Industrial Injuries) (Prescribed Diseases) (Amendment No. 2) Regulations (NI) 2007.
Agreed: The Committee was content with the Department’s proposal to make the Rule.
The Committee considered Mr O’Neill’s request for the outline proposals for Statutory Rules likely to be made during summer recess to be discussed in closed session.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to Mr O’Neill’s request for the outline proposals to be considered in closed session.
12.45pm. The meeting moved into closed session.
The Committee considered outline proposals for 18 Statutory Rules likely to be made during summer recess.
The officials agreed to submit finalised proposals to the Committee as soon as further information became available.
The officials were asked to ensure that if the Department became aware of any equality or human rights issues in relation to the proposals, this would be clearly stated in the Statutory Rules when they are made and laid in the Assembly.
Mr O’Neill agreed to write to Mr Brady in response to his query about the effect of the proposed amendment concerning the treatment of Education Maintenance Allowance, as contained to in the proposed Social Security (Miscellaneous Amendments No. 5) Regulations (NI) 2007.
Agreed: The Committee was content with the Department’s outline proposals to make the 18 Rules.
1.00pm. The meeting moved into public session.
DSD Disability Action Plan 2007/2010
The Committee considered the Department’s Disability Action Plan 2007/2010.
Agreed: It was agreed that the Department should be asked to provide the Committee with the half yearly progress reports, in order to monitor the implementation of the Action Plan.
i The Committee considered correspondence from the Department advising that it
planned to publish the Households Below Average Income Report 2005/06 on
2 August 2007.
Agreed: It was agreed to request a copy of the report from the Department, for
possible consideration by the Committee.
ii The Committee considered correspondence from the Clerk to the Committee for
Enterprise, Trade and Investment in relation to the letter from Ciarnan Helferty from
Queen’s University, Belfast concerning students living in university
accommodation. The ETI Committee had considered the correspondence and agreed
that it could not be addressed by the ETI Committee as it appeared to be a civil
matter that was beyond the remit of the Committee.
Agreed: It was agreed to write to Mr Helferty advising him that both the Enterprise,
Trade and Investment Committee and Social Development Committee were unable
to deal with the issue as it appeared to be a civil matter and could be subject to civil
iii The Committee considered the breakdown of Social Security Agency absenteeism
statistics that had been requested from the Department. The Committee noted the
general improvement in the level of absenteeism and in particular the level of
absenteeism for lower grades. However, the Committee also noted that from 2006,
for DP and Grade 7 level, there had been a marked increase in days lost, although it
recognised that the rates were low.
Agreed: It was agreed to write to the Department to enquire if there was any
underlying cause for this increase.
iv The Committee considered a response from the Department in relation to the
Committee’s request for clarification on the 2006/07 target for homes completed,
and information on current and future year targets that had been set.
Agreed: The Committee noted the Department’s response and agreed to consider
the End of Year position Report further at the Committee meeting scheduled for
6 September 2007.
v The Committee noted the Minister’s response explaining why the Executive
Committee’s consideration of the homelessness strategy had been delayed.
vi The Committee noted the Department’s response to the information that had been
requested during the briefing on the proposed Pensions Bill at the Committee
meeting on 21 June 2007.
vii The Committee considered correspondence from the following clubs in relation to
the Liquor Licensing Review:
Greenisland Golf Club
Marlborough Social and Darts Club
Lagan Village Rangers Supporters Club
Ballyclare Comrades Social Club
Agreed – It was agreed that the Clerk should respond to the clubs, indicating that
the Committee would be mindful of their views when considering the proposed
Licensing and Registration of Clubs Bill.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to consider the following two items in closed session.
1.05pm. The meeting moved into closed session.
Consideration of topic for first inquiry
The Committee considered possible topics for the Committee’s first inquiry.
Agreed: The Committee agreed a topic to be researched further during summer recess.
Comprehensive Spending Review Bids
The Committee agreed a letter to Minister Margaret Ritchie in response to the Department’s Comprehensive Spending Review bids.
1.10pm. The meeting moved into public session.
Any other business
Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting of the Committee for Social Development will be held on Thursday,
6 September 2007 at 11.00am in Room 135 Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.11pm.
Mr Gregory Campbell MP MLA
Chairperson, Committee for Social Development
6 September 2007