Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: Monday, 03 December 2012

Venue: Room 144 Parliament Buildings

The meeting commenced at 2.31 pm in open session 

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Chairpersons Business

The Chairperson advised Members that, together with the Deputy Chairperson, he had met with representatives of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission on Thursday 29th November 2012. The meeting had proved very useful in gaining an insight into the procedural aspects of the scrutiny of legislation for conformity to human rights.

Arising from this meeting, the Chairperson suggested that it would be helpful if he met with the Chairperson of the Westminster Joint Committee on Human Rights, Dr Hywel Francis.  

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson should travel to London to meet with Dr Francis on Wednesday 5th December 2012.

3. Minutes of the meeting of 27th November 2012

Agreed: The draft minutes of the meeting held on 27th November 2012 were agreed by the Committee.

Megan Fearon joined the meeting at 2.34p.m.

4. Matters Arising

Agreed: Members agreed that the details of any outstanding deputies would be passed to Committee staff.  The Committee further agreed that any Member who is unable to attend a meeting should pass their hard-copy meeting pack to the Member who will be deputising for them.

5. Briefing from the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland

Equality Commission representatives joined the meeting at 2.36p.m.

Mr Michael Wardlow, Chief Commissioner; Ms Evelyn Collins, Chief Executive; and Ms Lisa King, Director of Policy, provided the Committee with their views on the Conformity of the Welfare Reform Bill with Equality Requirements.

The briefing was followed by a question and answer session.

Trevor Lunn left the meeting at 2.44p.m.

The Clerk took the Chair and called for nominations for the position of Committee Chairperson.

Mr McDevitt proposed that Lord Morrow be elected as temporary Chairperson of the Committee. Mr Weir seconded this and the nomination was accepted.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that Lord Morrow be temporary Chairperson of the Committee.

Robin Swann joined the meeting at 2.46p.m.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Equality Commission should provide copies of recent correspondence with the Department.

Trevor Lunn re-joined the meeting as Chairperson at 2.49p.m.

Conall McDevitt declared an interest as a parent of a child in receipt of DLA at 2.54pm.

Equality Commission representatives left the meeting at 3.31p.m.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to move into closed session at 3.32 pm.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to ask the Department for Social Development to provide an update on the finalisation of the EQIA on the Welfare Reform Bill, and an expected timeline for the completion of the EQIA.

3.42p.m. Peter Weir left the meeting

3.43 p.m. The meeting moved into open session.

6. Briefing from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

Human Rights Commission representatives joined the meeting at 3.43p.m.

Professor Michael O'Flaherty, Chief Commissioner; Mr David Russell, Deputy Director; and Mr Colin Caughey, Policy Officer, provided the Committee with their views on the Conformity of the Welfare Reform Bill with observance of Human Rights.

The briefing was followed by a question and answer session.

Human Rights Commission representatives left the meeting at 4.38p.m.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department for Social Development to ascertain if it had conducted a detailed Human Rights assessment and, if so, to request a copy of that assessment.

Agreed: The Committee also agreed to write to the Department of Finance and Personnel to establish if it has carried out an analysis of Welfare Reform legislation and policy in compliance with HM Treasury Green Book guidelines. 

7. Forward Work Programme

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content to schedule briefings from the Law Centre NI and from the OFMDFM Equality Unit on Monday 10th December 2012. Members further agreed to arrange a joint briefing from Mencap and Disability Action for its next meeting on Tuesday 4th December 2012.

8. Any Other Business

There was no other business.

9. Time, date and place of next meeting

The next meeting of the Committee will be held on Tuesday, 4th December 2012 in Room 144 at 1.30pm.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 4.47pm.

Mr Trevor Lunn MLA
Chairperson, Ad Hoc Committee on Conformity of Equalities Requirements, Welfare Reform Bill
Monday 10th December 2012

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