ASSEMBLY BUSINESS

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Venue: 30

1.10pmThe meeting commenced in Open Session

1. Apologies

Mr Willie Clarke MLA

2. Minutes

Agreed: The Committee agreed the Minutes of the meeting of 18 October 2011.

3. Matters Arising and Correspondence

Agreed: The Committee agreed to suspend the proceedings at 2.30pm to allow Members to attend Questions to the Minister for Finance and Personnel, in the Chamber.

1:14pm Dolores Kelly joined the meeting.

(a) Correspondence issued

The Committee noted correspondence issued since the meeting on 18 October 2011.

(b) Correspondence received

Agreed : The Committee noted correspondence from the DALO regarding the Committee meeting of 4 October and were content with the reply in relation to ‘Gold Plating’ of regulations and the European Action Plan. The Committee agreed to write to the Department to ask what role the Rivers Agency plays in respect to the water quality of Lough Neagh and what, if any, communication they have had with Toome Fisheries.

Agreed: The Committee noted correspondence from Minister O’Neill about Rural Crime and agreed to write to request that she raises the issue of whether, or not, the PSNI maintains a ‘database’ on rural crime and to request a report on the meetings with the Justice Minister and the Chief Constable.

Agreed : The Committee noted correspondence from the DALO regarding the Committee meeting of 4 October in relation to planning applications for ‘Anaerobic Digesters’. The Committee agreed to discuss this further at a future meeting, possibly on 8 November.

Agreed: The Committee noted correspondence from the DALO regarding the re-opening of the DARD Research Challenge Fund. The Committee agreed they were content with the re-opening of the scheme but would like a briefing to be arranged on the Committee’s Forward Work Programme. The Committee further agreed that it would raise the issue of papers coming late to the Committee with the Permanent Secretary when he comes to Committee before the Christmas recess.

Agreed: The Committee noted correspondence from Minister O’Neill in response to a letter from the Committee on a number of issues, dated 6 October 2011. The Committee agreed they should analyse the comments made by the Audit Office and the PAC Committee in relation to previous decommissioning schemes. The Committee further noted the Departments proposal to brief the Committee on `Better Regulation` on 13 December 2011.

Noted: The Committee noted correspondence from Gerry Mulligan, head of the Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels, in relation to the Committee’s potential visit in November.

Noted: The Committee noted correspondence from Eileen Kelly of the Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels confirming the opportunity of a meeting with UK Rep.

Noted: The Committee noted correspondence from the Administrator of the Committee on Fisheries, European Parliament, confirming the opportunity of a meeting with Members of that Committee.

Agreed: Members agreed that they would let the Committee staff know whether, or not, they would join the visit to Brussels, on 21 – 24 November 2011, by close of play on Friday 28 October.

Agreed: The Committee noted an invitation from NIFDA to the Association’s annual dinner. The Chairperson indicated that he was unable to accept.

4. Presentation – Ralse – Stakeholder Feedback on Committee Priorities

The Assembly Research and Information Service Officer briefed the Committee on responses to the Committee’s invitation to comment on its priorities. This was followed by a Committee discussion on priority issues and the next steps.

1.50pm Kieran McCarthy joined the meeting.

2.07pm Robin Swann left the meeting.

2.07pm Trevor Clarke joined the meeting.

2.10pm Oliver McMullan left the meeting.

2.23pm William Irwin joined the meeting.

2.32pm The meeting was suspended to allow Members to attend proceedings in the Chamber.

3.13pm The meeting resumed with the following Members present Paul Frew, Dolores Kelly, Jo-Anne Dobson, William Irwin and Oliver McMullan.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the research paper to the Minister for information, they further agreed to forward it onto other statutory Committees, along with relevant responses.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to publish the research paper on the Committee website, to incorporate various actions into the Committee’s Forward Work Programme taking account of the previous Committee’s Legacy Report.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to respond to everyone who made a submission to the stakeholder outline the actions the Committee are taking on the issues raised.

3.22pm The meeting was suspended to allow Members to attend proceedings in the Chamber.

3.41pm The meeting resumed with the following Members present Paul Frew, Dolores Kelly, William Irwin, Oliver McMullan and Robin Swann

5. Presentation – DARD– EU non-compliance fees

The following witnesses joined the meeting:

Mr Andrew Elliott, DARD Director of Rural Payments; and

Ms Catherine Coll, DARD Deputy Principal.

The witnesses briefed the Committee and this was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that officials should provide detailed figures on how much DARD expects to have to repay because of non-compliance.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it should be kept informed of developments by the Department, on a regular basis.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Department should engage with the UK Co-Ordinating Body in relation to these repayments and report back to the Committee.

Agreed: The Committee agreed, in principle, to table a Committee motion and the Clerk was asked to prepare a draft for consideration.

4.33pm The meeting was suspended.

4.45pm The meeting resumed with the following Members present Paul Frew, Dolores Kelly, William Irwin, Kieran McCarthy and Robin Swann

6. Presentation - DARD – Fishing Opportunities

The following witnesses joined the meeting:

Ian Humes – Grade 7 - Principal Officer; and

Paddy Campbell – DP - Deputy Principal.

The witnesses briefed the Committee and this was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The Committee requested that officials provide an updated paper on fishing opportunities for 2012.

Agreed: The Committee further agreed that the Department should keep Members informed of how negotiations progress at the Fisheries Councils planned for November and December.

7. Presentation: DARD – Northern Ireland Countryside Management Scheme

The following witnesses joined the meeting:

Sam Kennedy – Grade 6 - Senior Principal Officer;

Herbie Jones – Grade 7 - Agricultural Inspector Grade I.

The witnesses briefed the Committee and this was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister about staff constraints and their impact on the NI Countryside Management Scheme.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to request details of how many inspections are carried out, and what plans were in place to allow inspectors to ‘multi-task’.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the MEPs to ask if they would lobby for changes to deadlines for applications due to the pressure around non-compliance and over declaration issues.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that genuine participants in the scheme should not be penalised because of potentially fraudulent activity by others.

8. Committee Discussion – Common Fisheries Policy

Agreed: The Committee noted the background paper on the Common Fisheries paper and agreed to re-visit when the industry would be able to put its position to the Committee

9. Pre-consultation: Review of the Structure of the Agricultural Wages Board

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content that this matter should move to consultation stage, provided that the Department returns with a detailed analysis of consultation responses.

10. SL1- The Plant Health (Import Inspection Fees) Regulations (NI) 2011

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Plant Health (Import Inspection Fees) Regulations (NI) 2011 should progress to the next legislative stage.

11. Chairperson’s Business

Agreed: The Committee agreed to issue a press release, as amended, on the basis of today’s meeting.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to have a meeting on Monday 7 November to consider the terms of a Committee motion on non-compliance.

Noted: The Committee noted the Committee’s Forward Work Programme.

12. Date of next meeting

Agreed: The next meeting of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development will take place on Monday 7 November 2011, at 12.00pm, room to be confirmed, in Parliament Buildings.

The meeting was adjourned at 6.21pm

Paul Frew, Chairperson, Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development

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