COMMITTEE FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
THURSDAY, 28 FEBRUARY 2008
ROOM 135, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Present: Mr Gregory Campbell MP MLA (Chairperson)
Mr David Hilditch MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Mickey Brady MLA
Mr Thomas Burns MLA
Mr Fred Cobain MLA
Mr Jonathan Craig MLA
Ms Anna Lo MLA
Mr Fra McCann MLA
Miss Michelle McIlveen MLA
In Attendance: Mr Martin Wilson (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)
Apologies: Mr Alban Maginness MLA
Mrs Claire McGill MLA
The meeting opened at 10.35am in closed session.
Draft minutes of the meeting held on 21 February 2008
i. Press release/photographs in relation to informal reception on 21 February 2008
Proposed Statutory Rules (SL1s)
February Monitoring Round
Forward Work Programme
Committee Stage of the Charities Bill – evidence session
Committee Stage of the Charities Bill – clause-by-clause scrutiny
Any other business
Date, time and place of next meeting
Apologies are detailed above.
The Chairperson informed Members that Sir Reg Empey’s office had requested a copy of the summary of responses to the Committee’s Neighbourhood Renewal
Agreed – To provide Sir Reg Empey with a copy of the summary, and at the same time publish the summary on the Assembly website.
Agreed – In light of the recently agreed Programme for Government/Budget/ Investment Strategy 2008/2011, it was agreed to write to the Department to ask if there had been any change to the information/figures provided in August 2007, on the extent to which government departments had taken Neighbourhood Renewal into account in 2008/2011 budgets.
Agreed – The draft minutes were agreed.
The Chairperson informed Members that the Departmental officials scheduled to brief the Committee on the Strategic Business Review of the Social Security Agency had not arrived.
Agreed – To write to the Minister to record the Committee’s dissatisfaction that the officials had not arrived in time to brief the Committee, and to ask the Minister to ensure that robust internal procedures were put in place to avoid a similar occurrence in the future.
The meeting moved into public session at 10.39am.
The Chairperson informed Members that the press release in relation to the informal reception on 21 February 2008, and photographs taken at the event, would issue to the regional and local papers on 28 February 2008.
ii. Conference on ‘Developer Contributions in Housing: Panacea or Pandora’s Box?’
The Chairperson reminded Members about the conference on ‘Developer Contributions in Housing: Panacea or Pandora’s Box?’ to be held on 9 April 2008, and asked that any Members wishing to attend the conference should contact the Clerk by close of play on 4 March 2008.
The Committee noted the proposed Commencement and Appointed Day Orders that will bring into operation various provisions of the Pensions (NI) Order 2005.
The Committee considered the following proposed Statutory Rule:
The Occupational Pension Schemes (Internal Dispute Resolution Procedures) (Consequential and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (NI) 2008.
Agreed – The Committee was content with the Department’s proposal to make the Statutory Rule.
Ms Lo joined the meeting at 10.42am.
The Committee considered the following proposed Statutory Rules:
The Social Security Pensions (Low Earnings Threshold) Order (NI) 2008.
The Child Support (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (NI) 2008.
The Discretionary Financial Assistance (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2008.
Agreed – The Committee was content with the Department’s proposal to make the
The Committee considered the following proposed Statutory Rule:
The Social Security (Work-focused Interviews for Partners) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2008.
Agreed – To copy the Department’s proposal to the Committee for Employment and Learning for comment, and to defer consideration of the proposal until a response had been received from the Committee for Employment and Learning.
The Committee noted correspondence from the Department for Social Development in relation to its February Monitoring Round submission.
i. The Committee considered the response from the Minister’s Private Secretary in relation to correspondence from Portstewart Community Vision regarding increasing problems of isolation caused by planning policies in Portstewart and Portballintrae.
Agreed – To advise Ms Hamilton that the issues raised were currently being dealt with
by the Department for Social Development on behalf of the Minister.
The Chairperson informed Members that, in his capacity as an MLA for the area, he proposed to follow up on the issues raised and write to Ms Hamilton separately.
Agreed – Members were content for the Chairperson to write to Ms Hamilton in his capacity as an MLA for the area.
ii. The Committee noted the letter from the Minister in relation to EU Directive 2002/91/EC on the energy performance of buildings.
iii. The Committee noted the letter the Minister had sent to the Cloona Child Contact Centre regarding funding from the Department.
iv. The Committee noted the response from the Department confirming that all relevant staff from the Social Security Agency would be fully trained to allow them to assist members of the public with enquiries on Home Responsibilities Protection.
v. The Committee noted the letter from the Department advising that it would update the Committee on the result of the consultation on the Review of the Wildlife (NI) Order 1985, as soon as possible after the consultation concluded.
vi. The Committee received correspondence from the Chairman of the NI Fuel Poverty Advisory Group, enclosing a copy of its response to the Minister in relation to the recommendations of the Fuel Poverty Advisory Group as contained in the Inter- Departmental Group Report on Fuel Poverty.
Agreed – To consider the correspondence from the Fuel Poverty Advisory Group whenever the Minister responds to the Committee’s letter in relation to this matter.
vii. The Committee considered correspondence from the Participation Network requesting to brief the Committee on its work to engage children and young people in public decision making.
Agreed – To invite representatives of the Participation Network to an informal reception to be hosted by the Committee in Parliament Buildings.
The Committee noted the Forward Work Programme. The Chairperson informed Members that the Minister had confirmed that she would attend the Committee meeting on 6 March 2008, to brief Members on the proposed Local Housing Allowance Regulations.
The following representatives from the Presbyterian Church in Ireland joined the meeting at 10.54am:
Rev Dr Donald Watts – Clerk of the General Assembly
Mr Clive Knox – Financial Secretary.
The representatives gave oral evidence on the Charities Bill. This was followed by a question and answer session.
The Chairperson thanked the representatives for the oral evidence.
The representatives left the meeting at 11.10am.
Mr Cobain and Miss McIlveen joined the meeting at 11.10am.
Officials from the Department for Social Development briefed Members on the Charities Bill, and the Committee began its clause-by-clause scrutiny of the Bill.
Mr Burns left the meeting at 12.09pm.
The next meeting will be held on Thursday, 6 March 2008 at 11.00am in Room 135, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.26pm.