MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
THURSDAY, 13 DECEMBER 2007
ROOM 135, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Mr David Hilditch (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Mickey Brady MLA
Mr Thomas Burns MLA
Mr Jonathan Craig MLA
Mr Alban Maginness MLA
Miss Michelle McIlveen MLA
Ms Anna Lo MLA
Ms Marie Austin (Assembly Clerk)
Mrs Judith Murdoch (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Mrs Joy Hamilton (Clerical Supervisor)
Mrs Sheila Mawhinney (Clerical Supervisor)
Mrs Lorraine McFarland (Clerical Officer)
Mr Gregory Campbell (Chairperson)
Mr Fra McCann MLA
Mrs Claire McGill MLA
The meeting opened at 11.04am in public session.
Apologies are detailed above.
Draft minutes of the meeting held on 6 December 2007
Agreed - the draft minutes were agreed.
The Deputy Chairperson advised Members that the Department for Social Development had confirmed that it would be unable to provide the information requested by the Committee in relation to Housing Benefit and Local Housing Allowance before 10 January 2008. The Committee noted the Department’s position.
Briefing on Neighbourhood Renewal by Departmental Officials
The Deputy Chairperson referred Members to a response from the Department for Social Development on the comparison of resources for Neighbourhood Renewal in England and Northern Ireland.
The following officials from the Department for Social Development joined the meeting at 11.08am.
Linda MacHugh – Director, Urban Regeneration Strategy
Angela Clarke – Head of Neighbourhood Renewal Policy Unit
The officials briefed the Committee on Neighbourhood Renewal. This was followed by a question and answer session.
Mr Burns joined the meeting at 11.09am.
The Deputy Chairperson thanked the officials for the briefing.
Agreed - The Committee agreed to forward a copy of the summary of the responses received to the Committee’s questionnaire on Neighbourhood Renewal, and ask the Department to comment on the issues raised by the end of February 2008.
The officials left the meeting at 11.40am.
Statutory Rule laid in the Assembly
The Committee considered the following Statutory Rule which is subject to negative resolution and has been laid in the Assembly:
The Occupational Pensions (Revaluation) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2007
Question put and agreed:
That the Committee for Social Development has considered Statutory Rule 2007 No. 486 The Occupational Pensions (Revaluation) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2007 and has no objection to the Rule.
Proposed Statutory Rules
The Committee considered the following proposed Statutory Rules:
The Social Fund (Applications and Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2008.
Pensions Bill – Commencement Orders.
Agreed – The Committee was content with the Department’s proposals to make the Statutory Rules.
Legislative Consent Motion – Pension Reforms
The Committee considered a legislative consent motion in respect of Pension reforms.
Agreed - The Committee was content with the legislative consent motion on a ‘without prejudice’ basis in advance of formal clearance by the Executive.
Inquiry into Town Centre Regeneration – Evidence Session
The following representatives from the Association of Town Centre Management (NI) ATCM joined the meeting at 11.45am.
Colin Neill – Chair, Association of Town Centre Management (NI)
Simon Quin – CEO, Association of Town Centre Management (NI)
Sharon Scott – Vice Chair, Association of Town Centre Management (NI)
The representatives gave oral evidence on the Committee Inquiry. This was followed by a question and answer session.
Mr Maginness joined the meeting at 11.58 am.
The Deputy Chairperson thanked the representatives for the oral evidence.
The representatives left the meeting at 12.06pm.
Business Impact Study – Liquor Licensing
The Committee considered written briefing provided by the Department for Social Development on the Business Impact Study – Liquor Licensing.
Agreed – the Committee agreed to invite the Minister for Social Development to brief the Committee on liquor licensing at a future meeting.
Committee Visit to Crumlin Road Gaol/Girdwood Site
The Committee discussed the forthcoming visit to Crumlin Road Gaol/Girdwood Site and noted the arrangements.
i. The Committee noted correspondence sent to the Minister for Finance and Personnel from the Fold Housing Association raising concerns in relation to the Draft Budget capital allocation for housing for 2008/09. The correspondence was copied to the Committee for information.
ii. The Committee noted correspondence from the Chartered Institute of Housing (NI) seeking an opportunity to meet and discuss key issues in relation to housing.
Agreed - The Committee agreed to meet with the Chartered Institute of Housing (NI) after it receives a briefing from the Department for Social Development on the Reports of the Affordability Implementation Review Group, the Expert Panel and Baroness Ford. It is hoped that the Reports will be available by the end of January 2008.
iii. The Committee noted correspondence from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive in response to the Committee’s request for information on the Social Housing Development Programme.
iv. The Committee noted a copy of correspondence sent to the Minister for Social Development from Help the Aged raising concerns in relation to the cuts in funding for fuel poverty initiatives.
v. The Committee noted the Department’s response to the Committee’s request for an update on the ‘Reinvigoration of Town Centres’ Report (EDAW Consultants, March 2000) and the current status of the 27 recommendations within the report.
Agreed - The Committee agreed to include the response as part of the Department’s written evidence on the Inquiry into Town Centre Regeneration. The Committee also agreed to write to the Department to seek further information in relation to the recommendations.
Forward Work Programme
The Committee noted the Forward Work Programme.
Any Other business
Mr Brady raised the issue of recent media reports regarding the theft of a Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) employee’s laptop computer containing personal details of around 60,000 people, and his concern that the Minister did not make a statement to the Assembly regarding the theft.
Agreed - The Committee agreed to write to the Minister to seek further information on theft of personal data and how the Minister intends to address the issue.
Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting will be held on Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 12.30pm in Room 135, Parliament Buildings.
The Deputy Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.15pm.