Northern Ireland Assembly Flax Flower Logo



Present: Fred Cobain MLA (Chairperson)
Jim Wells MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Cathal Boylan MLA
Willie Clarke MLA
John Dallat MLA
William Irwin MLA
Raymond McCartney MLA
Stephen Moutray MLA
George Robinson MLA
Brian Wilson MLA

In Attendance: Debbie Pritchard (Principal Assembly Clerk)
Roisin Kelly (Assembly Clerk)
Gillian Lyness (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Clairita Frazer (Clerical Supervisor)
Tom Skelton (Clerical Officer)
Tony Marken (Senior Researcher) part only.
Stephanie Galbraith (Researcher)

Apologies: John McCallister

The meeting opened at 10.03 am in public session.

Members agreed that UTV should be permitted to film a segment of today’s committee proceedings.

1. Apologies.

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Committee Membership.

The Committee noted the revised Membership paper.

10.05 am Raymond McCartney joined the meeting.

3. Procedures.

Members noted the following tabled guidance papers:

The Chairperson drew the Members’ attention to guidance on privilege and matters, which may be sub-judice. The Chairperson advised members that -

“Under section 50 of the NI Act 1998, for the purposes of the law of defamation, absolute privilege applies equally to –

This privilege also extends to meetings of the Committee. Members should note however that privilege does not extend to press conferences or statements made to the press.”

“Sub-judice falls under Standing Order 68 of the Standing Orders for the NI Assembly prepared by the Secretary of State in accordance with paragraph 5(4) of Schedule 1 to the Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2006. Sub-judice applies from when a criminal charge (or charges) is brought, or from when notice of an appeal is lodged to the time that the verdict and sentence have been announced, or from when a civil action is listed for trial until judgement is given. In such cases, the matter awaiting adjudication should not be prejudiced by comment in a public session of a committee meeting.

10.10 am The Senior Researcher and Researcher joined the meeting .

Members noted the Guide to Providing an Effective Research Service to Committees – Good Practice Guidelines. The Senior Researcher briefed the Committee on the role of Assembly Research Services and the services available to support the Committee’s work.

10.15 am The Senior Researcher left the meeting.
10.15 am George Robinson joined the meeting.

4. Declaration of Interest.

Members agreed that the declaration of Members’ interests, included in the additional papers, reflected their declared interests. It was noted that Brian Wilson and Cathal Boylan had additional interests to declare and would forward this information to the Clerk.

5. Subordinate Legislation.

The Committee agreed the following motion:

“That the Committee for Regional 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.”

The Committee agreed to notify the Examiner of Statutory Rules and the Department of Members’ decision.

6. PfG issues.

Members noted the following papers:

7. Summary of Briefings Chairperson received prior to 9 May 2007.

Members noted the paper on the summary of briefings the Chairperson received prior to 9 May 2007.

8. Correspondence.

Members noted correspondence from Iain Osborne, Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation (NIAUR) and Eleanor Gill, Chief Executive, Consumer Council for Northern Ireland.

Members agreed to invite Iain Osborne and Eleanor Gill to brief the Committee at some stage.

9. Draft Schedule of Work and list of Stakeholders.

It was agreed that water reform should be the priority for the Committee Work Programme in the first instance and that David Sterling, Deputy Secretary, DRD and Eleanor Gill of the Consumer Council Northern Ireland be asked to brief the Committee on this issue. A revised schedule of work and briefings was approved. It was agreed that the clerk should write to interested groups and stakeholders asking for written submissions on water reform.

10.37 am The Minister and Officials joined the meeting.
10.40 am Willie Clarke joined the meeting.

10. Departmental Brief.

The Chairperson welcomed the Minister, Conor Murphy MLA, Permanent Secretary, Gerry McGinn, and officials. The Minister briefed the Committee on the key issues facing the department across the main areas of regional development work. The Members took the opportunity to discuss current issues with the Minister.

11.20 pm The Minister and Officials left the meeting.

11. Proposed Meeting Dates.

The Members agreed the proposed meeting dates.

12. Press Release.

A press release was agreed for issue on Wednesday 16 May 2007.

13. Date, venue and time next meeting.

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 23 May 2007 at 10.00am in Room 144 Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 11.28 am.

Signed: Fred Cobain MLA
Chairperson, Committee for Regional Development.