Minutes of Proceedings
THURSDAY, 17 MAY 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 Fred Cobain MLA
Mr Jonathan Craig MLA
Ms Anna Lo MLA
Mr Alban Maginness MLA
Mr Fra McCann MLA
Mrs Claire McGill MLA
Miss Michelle McIlveen 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)
Mr Tim Moore - Assembly Research & Library Services (Item 9 only)
The meeting opened at 11.05am in closed session.
No apologies – all Members were present.
2. Chairperson’s introduction
The Chairperson welcomed the Members and introduced the Committee Office staff.
11.06am. Mr Cobain joined the meeting.
3. Public/closed session
Agreed – Members were content for Committee proceedings to be recorded as an aid to Committee staff in preparing papers based on the outcomes of Committee deliberations.
Agreed – The Committee agreed that meetings should be held in public session, unless there was an overriding reason for proceedings to be closed.
The meeting moved into public session.
The Chairperson informed the Committee that he and the Deputy Chairperson had met informally with the Minister designate, Ms Margaret Ritchie, and the Permanent Secretary of the Department for Social Development on 1 May 2007.
The Chairperson informed the Committee that he and the Deputy Chairperson had also met informally with the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations on
30 April 2007.
The Chairperson informed the Committee that, in his absence, the Deputy Chairperson had attended the launch of CO 3 Chief Officers Third Sector on 14 May 2007. The Deputy Chairperson provided Members with a brief overview of the event.
4. Declaration of interests
The Chairperson reminded Members that the Guide to the Rules Relating to the Conduct of Members requires that, before the first meeting of a Committee, Members must send to the Committee Clerk details of any interests, financial or otherwise, for circulation to the Committee. The Chairperson confirmed that all Members had sent their declaration of interests to the Clerk.
Agreed – It was agreed that the interests declared by Members prior to the meeting should be appended to the minutes of the meeting – see Appendix.
Some additional interests were declared by Members as follows:
Mr Fred Cobain – Member, Filon Housing Association
Member, Crumlin/Girdwood Development Advisory Panel
Mr Alban Maginness – Member, Employment Services Board
Mr Fra McCann – Member, Employment Services Board
Mrs Claire McGill – Member, Strabane District Council
Member, Employment Task Force
The Chairperson reminded Members of their continuing obligation to declare interests.
5. Receipt of Committee papers
The Chairperson asked Members to provide the Clerk with contact details and specify how they wished to receive their Committee papers, by completing the proforma in the meeting papers and returning it to the Clerk as soon as possible.
The Chairperson informed Members that meeting papers are confidential to Committee members until such time as they may be released to the public.
6. Powers and operation of Statutory Committees
The Clerk outlined the powers and operation of Statutory Committees and highlighted in particular the rules relating to privilege and sub-judice.
7. Role of the Committee Office
The Clerk outlined the role of the Committee Office.
8. Role of the Chairperson
The Committee noted the guidance paper on the role of the Chairperson.
9. Role of Research
Mr Tim Moore from Assembly Research and Library Services outlined the research service available to the Committee. The Chairperson thanked Mr Moore for the briefing.
10. Subordinate Legislation
The Chairperson informed the Committee of the procedures in relation to the delegation of responsibility for reporting on the technical aspects of statutory rules to the Examiner of Statutory Rules.
Agreed – The Committee agreed the following motion:
“The Committee for Social Development resolves, under Standing Order 41 to delegate to the Examiner of Statutory Rules the technical scrutiny of statutory rules referred to the Committee under the above mentioned Standing Order.
“The Committee further resolves that in carrying out this function the Examiner shall be authorised to report his technical findings on each statutory rule to the Assembly, through the Business Office, and to the relevant Department, as well as to the Committee itself and to publish his report.”
11. Briefing on the key responsibilities of the Department for Social Development
Agreed – The Committee agreed to move into closed session to discuss the handling of the briefing sessions from the Departmental officials.
The meeting moved into closed session.
The Committee discussed the handling of the briefing sessions.
The meeting moved into public session.
The following officials from the Department for Social Development joined the meeting at 11.50am:
Alan Shannon – Permanent Secretary
Mary Quinn – Chief Executive, Child Support Agency
Bryan Davis – Chief Executive, Social Security Agency
Barney McGahan – Deputy Secretary – Resources, Housing and Social Security Group
John McGrath – Deputy Secretary – Urban Regeneration and Community Development Group
Mr Shannon gave an overview of the key responsibilities of the Department. This was followed by a question and answer session.
The officials agreed to provide the Committee with information on the number of social housing units completed in the last 5 years.
The Chairperson thanked the officials for the informative briefing.
The officials left the meeting at 12.48pm.
12. Briefing on the proposed Welfare Reform Bill
The following officials from the Department for Social Development joined the meeting at 12.50pm:
John O’Neill – Director, Social Security Policy and Legislation Division
Gerry McCann – Social Security Policy and Legislation Division
Margaret Sisk – Social Security Policy and Legislation Division
Doreen Roy – Social Security Policy and Legislation Division
Mr O’Neill briefed the Committee on the purpose and main provisions of the proposed Welfare Reform Bill. This was followed by a question and answer session.
The officials agreed to provide the Committee with the following information:
a) Details of the Pathfinder areas in GB which were used to pilot the revised
b) any evidence available to indicate the extent of any significant rent arrears
accumulated in the private rented sector; and
c) the position with regard to assessments carried out in the past for Incapacity Benefit,
which had not been undertaken by medical healthcare professionals.
The Chairperson thanked the officials for the briefing.
The officials left the meeting at 1.16pm.
13. Draft Press Release
Agreed – The Committee agreed a Press Release regarding the formation of the Committee.
14. Draft Forward Work Programme and Committee meeting rota
The Committee was content with the initial Forward Work Programme. The Chairperson informed Members that a briefing from the Department for Social Development on the proposed Charities Bill had now been arranged for 31 May 2007.
The Committee noted the rota for Committee meetings.
Agreed – Members agreed that correspondence from lobby/interest groups should be dealt with at a time appropriate to the work of the Committee.
16. Any other business
The Chairperson informed Members that meeting packs could be retained or left with Committee staff for recycling.
17. Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting of the Committee for Social Development will be held on Thursday, 24 May 2007 at 11.00am in Room 135, Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson informed the Committee that, immediately after the meeting on
24 May 2007, an informal lunch with the Minister and her officials would be held in the Members’ Private Dining Room. The Chairperson encouraged Members to attend. The Committee agreed that Mr Paddy McIntyre, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive should also be invited to attend.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.23pm.
Mr Gregory Campbell MP MLA
Chairperson, Committee for Social Development
24 May 2007
DECLARATION OF INTERESTS