ASSEMBLY BUSINESS

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Tuesday, 06 December 2011

Venue: Room 30, Parliament Buildings

1.36pm The meeting commenced in Open Session

1. Apologies

None

2. Minutes

Agreed: The Committee agreed the Minutes of the meeting of 29 November 2011.

3. Matters Arising

Submission to the EFRA Committee

Noted: The Committee noted that the draft submission and associated documents, to the EFRA Committee Inquiry, is scheduled for discussion on 13 December 2011.

1.38pm Conor Murphy joined the meeting.

(a) Correspondence issued

The Committee noted correspondence issued since the meeting on 29 November 2011.

(b) Correspondence received

Noted: The Committee noted correspondence from the Minister about Bovine TB. The Committee also noted that the Minister/Department disagreed with some aspects of the Assembly Researcher’s paper on TB.

The Assembly Research and Information Service Officer briefed the Committee on specific points in the letter. This was followed by a question and answer session.

1.43pm Jo-Anne Dobson left the meeting.

Agreed: Members agreed to write to the Minister, based on the briefing, and to point out that the paper had been forwarded to the Department in 'good faith', and with the best of intentions. The Committee also agreed to request a copy of the DEFRA 2010 TB report to the EU Commission and to seek information about the amount of the levy paid by farmers to subsidise similar compensation schemes in the Republic of Ireland.

The Assembly Research and Information Service Officer left the meeting.

Agreed: The Committee noted correspondence from the Minister on Strangford Lough Non-Fishing Zones. The Committee noted this correspondence would be discussed by the Chairperson and the Chairperson of the Environment Committee at their meeting on Monday 12 December. The Committee further agreed to consider it at the next meeting, as necessary.

1.56pm Kieran McCarthy left the meeting.

1.56pm Willie Clarke joined the meeting.

1.59pm Jo-Anne Dobson re-joined the meeting.

Agreed: The Committee noted correspondence and a Press Release from the Minister on the new focus for Rural Development spending. The Committee welcomed the approach, in principle, but agreed to request some more details of the Minister’s intentions, and to discuss the matter further with officials on 10 January 2012.

Noted: The Committee noted correspondence from the Minister in relation to the amount of money paid to farmers by supermarkets and processors for potatoes.

Noted: The Committee noted correspondence from the Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister to the Agriculture Minister in relation to Flooding.

Noted: The Committee noted correspondence from Commissioner Damanaki’s office about the Common Fisheries Policy.

Noted: The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for Social Development about the fuel poverty event held on 16 November.

Agreed: The Committee noted correspondence from the Department in relation to the Committee meeting of 15 November 2011 and agreed to write to the Department to seek some further information on mapping.

Agreed: The Committee noted correspondence from the Department in relation to European Engagement and agreed the letter should be passed on to the Committee Researcher, for information, and for him to monitor developments.

Noted: The Committee noted correspondence from the Department in relation to the Committee meeting of 11 October 2011 about the future of 'Seafish'.

2.15pm Jo-Anne Dobson left the meeting.

4. Presentation: DARD – Better Regulations update Report

The following witnesses joined the meeting:

Wendy Johnston - Acting Grade 3, Under Secretary;

Michelle Bell - Acting Grade 5, Assistant Secretary;

Roly Harwood - Grade 6, Senior Principal Veterinary Officer; and

John McConnell – DP, Deputy Principal.

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

Agreed: The Committee noted that that this was a 'draft' report, that the Department had failed to reach its interim 2011 target and that, overall, the presentation of information in the document made it hard to follow. The Committee agreed to write to the Department on a number of specific points.

2.25pm Robin Swann joined the meeting.

2.29pm Conor Murphy and Willie Clarke left the meeting.

2.36pm William Irwin left the meeting.

2.47pm William Irwin re-joined the meeting.

5. Presentation: DARD – Business Plan

The following witnesses joined the meeting:

Jim McGuinness - Acting Grade 5, Assistant Secretary; and

Tom Rodgers - Grade 7, Principal Officer.

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

The Committee expressed serious concerns about the status of some of the targets in the Business Plan.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to request that the Senior Responsible Officers for each target currently listed as red, or amber, should come before the Committee in January.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to invite the Minister to come before the Committee to discuss the draft PfG and the Department’s Business Plan.

6. Presentation: DARD – SL1- Non Commercial Movement of Pet Animals Regulations (NI) 2011

The following witnesses joined the meeting:

Jackie Robinson - Grade 7, Principal Officer; and

Thomas Craig - DP, Deputy Principal.

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

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Non Commercial Movement of Pet Animals Regulations (NI) 2011 should progress to the next legislative stage.

7. Pre-consultation – Alien and Locally Absent Species in Aquaculture Regulations (NI) 2012

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.

8. SL1 – Less Favoured Area Compensation Allowance Regulations (NI) 2012

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Less Favoured Area Compensation Allowance Regulations (NI) 2012 should progress to the next legislative stage.

9.SR 2011/397 – The Fodder Plant Seeds (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2011

Question put and Agreed. 

That the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development has considered the Fodder Plant Seeds (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2011and has no objection to the rule.

10. Chairperson’s Business

European Parliament event in Armagh on 2 December

Noted: The Deputy Chairperson reported, briefly, on the event and Clerk was asked to circulate a full report to Members.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to invite Mike Hammel, a senior official in the European Commission, to make a presentation to the Committee, and further agreed to recommend that the Environment Committee might also benefit from the presentation.

Agreed: The Committee agreed, in principle, to accept Andrew Doyle’s informal invitation to attend a meeting between the Oireachtas Joint Committee and Commissioner Cioloş on 19 January 2012.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to postpone the stakeholder event scheduled for 19 January, to allow the Committee to attend the meeting in Dublin and further agreed that the Clerk bring forward alternative proposals for the stakeholder event in consultation with the Rural Development Council (LAGs & JCCs) and the Department.

Debate on the Introduction of the Welfare of the Laying Hens Directive

Agreed: The Committee agreed that Chairperson could signal that the Committee supports the intention behind the Motion.

11. AOB

Meeting Packs

Agreed: The Committee noted that the meeting pack had been issued late and agreed that, in future, early notification would be useful.

Meat Inspections

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department in relation to charges incurred for meat inspections and where these receipts are lodged.

12. Date of next meeting

Agreed: The next meeting of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development will take place on Tuesday 13 December 2011, at 1.30pm, Room 30, in Parliament Buildings.

The meeting was adjourned at 3.59pm

Paul Frew, Chairperson, Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development

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