Minutes of Proceedings
Thursday, 10 January 2008
Room 135, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Mr Gregory Campbell (Chairperson)
Mr David Hilditch (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Mickey Brady MLA
Mr Jonathan Craig MLA
Mr Alban Maginness MLA
Mr Fra McCann MLA
Mrs Claire McGill 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 Thomas Burns MLA
The meeting opened at 12.37pm in public session.
Apologies are detailed above.
2. Chairperson’s business
The Chairperson informed Members that the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister had published its interim report on its inquiry into child poverty on 9 January 2008. Given the important role the Department for Social Development has in contributing to the achievement of new targets to reduce child poverty, Members expressed very serious concerns that the Department for Social Development had not submitted evidence to the inquiry until the 9 January 2008, nearly six weeks after the closing date and on the date the interim report was published. As a result of the late submission, the Department’s response to the inquiry was not considered as part of the interim report.
Agreed – the Committee agreed that the Clerk should draft a letter to the Minister expressing the Committee’s concerns. The draft letter will be considered at the next Committee meeting.
The Chairperson informed Members that Mr Richard Cordon the Interim Chief Executive for the Commission for the Compact in Britain will visit Northern Ireland on 19 & 20 February 2008 to undertake a programme of activities. The Deputy Chairperson had agreed to meet Mr Cordon on 20 February 2008 for a briefing on how the Commission for the Compact operates in the rest of the UK. Other Members were invited to attend.Agreed – Any Member wishing to attend should notify the Committee Office.
3. Draft minutes of the meeting held on 13 December 2007
Agreed - the draft minutes were agreed.
4. Matters arising
The Committee noted the Minister’s response to its letter of concern in relation to the absence of a Ministerial Statement to the Assembly on the loss of personal details and data as a result of the theft of a CAB laptop from an employee’s car in December 2007.Agreed – the Committee agreed to note the Minister’s response at present but to raise the issue at a future meeting with the Minister.
5. Briefing on Charities Bill by Departmental Officials
The following officials from the Department for Social Development joined the meeting at 12.49pm:
Seamus Murray - Acting Director for the Voluntary & Community Unit (VCU)
Roy McGivern – Voluntary & Community Unit
Kieran Doyle – Voluntary & Community Unit.
The officials briefed the Committee on the Charities Bill. This was followed by a question and answer session.
Departmental officials agreed to provide written clarification on a number of issues raised by Members.
The Chairperson thanked the officials for the briefing.
The officials left the meeting at 1.34pm.
6. Charities Bill – proposals for handling Committee Stage
The Committee considered a briefing paper prepared by the Clerk on proposals for handling the Committee Stage of the Bill.
Agreed – the Committee agreed the proposals for the handling of the Committee Stage of the Charities Bill including a list of consultees and advertising.
Mr Cobain and Mr Maginness left the meeting at 1.44pm
Mr Maginness rejoined the meeting at 1.45pm
7. Health and Social Care Bill – Health in Pregnancy Grant
The Committee considered correspondence from the Minister regarding the Government’s proposals for the introduction of a new social security benefit called the Health in Pregnancy Grant from 2009 and to extend the provision for the Grant in the Health and Social Care Bill to Northern Ireland. The Committee also considered correspondence received from the Twin and Multiple Births Association (Tamba) regarding its concerns in relation to the Grant.
Agreed - the Committee noted the correspondence from the Minister and agreed that the Chairperson should speak in plenary on the Legislative Consent Motion on behalf of the Committee. The Committee also agreed that the Chairperson should highlight Tamba’s concerns when speaking on the Motion.
- The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development regarding its inquiry into renewable energy/alternative land use.
Agreed - the Committee agreed to request a written brief on the issue from the Department and to forward the letter from the Chairperson of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development to Minister Ritchie advising of the Committee’s inquiry.
- The Committee noted correspondence from the Department for Social Development Housing Division regarding the implementation of the Strategy for Promoting the Social Inclusion of Homeless People.
Agreed - the Committee agreed to await a progress report from Departmental officials in April 2008.
- The Committee noted correspondence from Cliftonville Regeneration Forum regarding cross-community consultation on the Crumlin Road Gaol and Girdwood Park Masterplan.
Agreed – the Committee agreed that the Clerk should write to the Department and seek clarification on the steps being taken to ensure that consultation is on a cross-community basis.
- The Committee noted correspondence from the Energy Saving Trust (EST) regarding the Energy Saving Trust Green Homes Service and planned extension to the Energy Saving Trust’s range of advice services in Northern Ireland.
- The Committee noted correspondence from the Social Security Agency regarding the Strategic Business Review of the Agency and the delay in providing a further briefing to the Committee.
- The Committee considered correspondence from Donaghadee Sailing Club regarding the possible impact the Charities Bill will have on the Club.
Agreed - the Committee agreed that Departmental officials should respond directly to the Club in relation to its concerns. The Committee agreed to treat the correspondence as written evidence as part of the Committee Stage of the Bill.
- The Committee noted correspondence from the Minister on the Review of Monetary Limits on certain gaming machines stakes and prizes.
- The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety regarding a Committee Motion on the installation of smoke alarms in homes.
Agreed - the Committee agreed that the Clerk write to the Department requesting a written brief on the matter.
- The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister regarding the Department for the First Minister and deputy First Minister’s December monitoring return and the North Belfast Community Action Unit.
- The Committee considered correspondence from SOS Bus seeking an opportunity to meet the Committee and present the work of the project.
Agreed - the Committee agreed to invite representatives of SOS Bus to an informal reception to be hosted by the Committee in Parliament Buildings in February/March 2008.
- The Committee considered correspondence from Post Office Ltd regarding the Network Change Programme.
Agreed - the Committee agreed to invite Senior Managers from Post Office Ltd to the Committee’s informal reception.
- The Committee considered correspondence from Advice NI requesting to meet the Committee and give a presentation on its work.
Agreed - the Committee agreed to invite representatives from Advice NI to brief the Committee at its meeting on 24 January 2008.
9. Forward Work Programme
The Clerk reminded the Committee that, at its meeting on 22 November 2007, Members had agreed to host an informal reception for interest groups that had requested to meet the Committee. The Clerk provided Members with a list of possible dates for the reception and asked that they respond with their availability by Tuesday 15 January 2008.
Agreed - Members to check their availability and inform the Clerk.
The Committee noted the Forward Work Programme.
10. Any Other business
Mrs McGill and Ms Lo sought clarification on the list of consultees for the Committee Stage of the Charities Bill.
Ms McIlveen expressed her thanks to the Committee Staff for organising the Committee visit to the Crumlin Road Gaol/Girdwood Site on Thursday 10 January 2008 and reported that it had been most useful.
11. Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting will be held on Thursday, 17 January 2008 at 11.00pm in Room 135, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.57pm.