Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Venue: Room 30

The meeting opened in public session at 10.06 am with the Deputy Chairperson in the Chair.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Chairperson’s Business

  • The Deputy Chairperson informed the Committee that the Mr Basil McCrea MLA was no longer the Chairperson of the Committee.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to Mr McCrea thanking him for his Chairmanship of the Committee.
  • The Chairperson informed Members that an informal meeting with the Department on the Steps 2 Success Programme has been provisionally arranged for 19 March 2013.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the date for the meeting subject to change by the new Chairperson when appointed.  
  • The Chairperson advised Members that an informal meeting had taken place between the Members of the Committee and representatives of SERCO.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to consider the matter further when it receives an Assembly Research and Information Service paper on the providers of employment programmes in England, Scotland and Wales.
  • The Committee considered two draft questionnaires to be distributed to School/College Students and University Students on Careers Advice they have received.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed that the questionnaires should be distributed subject to the amendments requested.

3. Minutes of the meeting held on 13 February 2013

Agreed: The minutes of the meeting were agreed.

4. Matters arising

  • The Committee noted a list of matters arising from the previous meeting.
  • The Committee considered the Minister’s response to issues raised by the Committee regarding his Statement on the EMA and his offer to brief the Committee on 27 February 2013.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to the Minister’s request for a briefing on 27 February and agreed to reschedule a number of its briefings that had been arranged for that meeting.

5. Briefing from the NI Assembly Research and Information Service on European Commission Legislative Proposals 2013

The Assembly Researcher joined the meeting at 10.15 am.

The Committee was briefed by Mr Eóin Murphy of Northern Ireland Assembly Research and Information Service on the European Commission Legislative Proposals 2013.

The briefing was followed by a question and answer session.

The Assembly Research Officer agreed to provide further information on a range of issues discussed.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department, providing it with a copy of the research paper, and requesting that it answers the questions raised.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward all future Assembly Research and Information Service research papers on the European Commission Legislative Proposals to the Department prior to future briefings by Departmental officials.

The Assembly Researcher left the meeting at 10.33 am.

6. Briefing from the Thematic Desk Officer Brussels and Departmental Officials - Quarterly Update on European Issues

Representatives joined the meeting at 10.33 am.

The Committee was briefed by Mr Colin Jack, Director of Strategy, European and Employment Relations Division, Ms Patricia McVeigh, Head of European Policy Branch and Mr Gordon Browne, The Northern Ireland Executive Office in Brussels via conference call.

The briefing was followed by a question and answer session.

The Officials agreed to provide the Committee with further information on a range of issues raised during the briefing including:

  • What EU Research Grants are available for Sole Traders and Small and Medium Enterprises?

10.55 am Mr Ramsey left the meeting.

  • Information on the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in Member states and information on any applications which have been made to the fund where Agency Workers were included.

10.59 am Mr Flanagan left the meeting.

11.01 am Mr Ramsey re-joined the meeting.

  • How many people from Northern Ireland have secured jobs in the EU institutions and how many people from the NCIS have gone on secondment to EU institutions in each of the last 5 years.
  • What current arrangements are in place to encourage people to apply for jobs and secondments in the EU institutions?

11.11 am Mr Lyttle joined the meeting.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment requesting what options of EU Grant Aid is available to engineering companies to replace equipment.

Representatives left the meeting at 11.17 am.

The Committee considered a draft response to the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister on the Executive’s proposed European Priorities 2013-14.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the response to the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister.

The Committee considered a draft response to the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister on its proposed European priorities for 2013-14.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the response to the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister.

7. Departmental briefing on the Programme for Government commitment to help people into work

Representatives joined the meeting at 11.19 am.

The Committee was briefed by Mr Jim Russell, Service Delivery, Employment Service Mr Michael Gould, Skills Policy and Mr Dave Rogers, Analytical Services.

The Officials agreed to provide the Committee with further information on the issues raised including:

  • A statistical breakdown of the type of employment achieved, whether it was part-time or full-time, permanent or temporary and if it was temporary employment was it for the short or long term and a breakdown by geographical area.
  • Information and action points coming from the Department’s quarterly meetings with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and InvestNI on skills needs of Industry.

12.08 pm Mr Lyttle left the meeting.

Representatives left the meeting at 12.14 pm.

8. Subordinate Legislation: SL1 - The Student Fees (Qualifying Courses and Persons) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013

The Committee considered proposals for a proposed Statutory Rule which will make three amendments to the definition of a “qualifying person” and a “qualifying course” under Article 4 of the Higher Education (NI) Order 2005.  These terms are used in define students and courses for the regulation of fees. 

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content for the Department to make the Rule.

9. Subordinate Legislation: Statutory Rule - SR 2013 - 23 The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order (Northern Ireland) 2013

The Committee considered SR 2013 No. 23, The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order (Northern Ireland) 2013.

Question put and agreed:

 “That the Committee for Employment and Learning has considered SR 2013 No. 23, The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order (Northern Ireland) 2013, and has no objection to the rule.”

10. Subordinate Legislation: Statutory Rule - SR 2013 - 25 The Parental Leave (EU Directive) (Maternity and Parental Leave) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012.

The Committee considered SR 2013 No. 25, The Parental Leave (EU Directive) (Maternity and Parental Leave) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013.

Question put and agreed:

“That the Committee for Employment and Learning has considered SR 2013 No. 25, The Parental Leave (EU Directive) (Maternity and Parental Leave) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013, and has no objection to the rule.”

11. Subordinate Legislation: Statutory Rule - SR 2013 - 26 The Parental Leave (EU Directive) (Flexible Working) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013

The Committee considered SR 2013 No. 26, The Parental Leave (EU Directive) (Flexible Working) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013.

Question put and agreed:

 “That the Committee for Employment and Learning has considered SR 2013 No. 26, The Parental Leave (EU Directive) (Flexible Working) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013, and has no objection to the rule.”

12. Correspondence

The Committee considered the following items of correspondence:

  • The Committee considered a response from Queen’s University Belfast to its letter of congratulations regarding the European Research Council (ERC) Award and steps the university is taking to encourage a better gender balance.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the correspondence.
  • The Committee considered a response from the Rural Community Network to a Committee request for information on rates of housing unfitness in rural areas.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the correspondence.
  • The Committee considered a response from the Department regarding Post 19 SEN Provision and 14-19 Education Strategy.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the correspondence and forward the information to the Committee for Education for information.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Post 19 SEN provision lobby to engage with it on the matter.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Committee for Rural Development the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety and Disability Action for information on what assistance is available on public transport in rural areas for those with disabilities and who is responsible for such provision.
  • The Committee considered a response from the Department regarding European Social Fund Programme 2014 - 2020.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the correspondence.
  • The Committee considered a response from the Department regarding Fermanagh District Council - Employability Programme.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the correspondence and to forward it to Fermanagh District Council for information.
  • The Committee considered a response from the Department regarding Stranmillis Pilot Study Proposal.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the correspondence.
  • The Committee considered correspondence from the Committee for Education regarding Post 19 SEN Provision.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed note the correspondence and to forward it to the Department for comment.
  • Invitation to Advice NI to launch of Advice NI Tax Credits Policy Paper: “You’re A Couple Even When You’re Not” HMRC use of credit reference agency data in tax credit decision making.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the invitation.
  • Invitation from OFMDFM Committee and the NIABT to a visit from the Minister of State for European Affairs, Lucinda Creighton TD, on Wednesday 6 March 2013, Re: Irish Presidency - Mid-term Review with Irish Minister of State for European Affairs.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the invitation.
  • Departmental response regarding European Commission Press Release, ‘Research and Innovation: Commission widens search for expert advisors for Horizon 2020’
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the response.
  • Irish EU Presidency, News item – ‘EU Education Ministers adopt conclusions on rethinking education’.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the news article.
  • Queen’s University Belfast press release - Professor Sir Peter Gregson, President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast has been appointed Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University.     
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to Professor Sir Peter Gregson to congratulate him on his appointment.
  • Queen’s University Belfast press release – QUB announced as new partner in Futurelearn, during Prime Minister’s David Cameron’s visit to India.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the news article.

13. Forward Work Programme

  • The Committee considered the draft Forward Work Programme up to 17 April 2013.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content to schedule these briefings.
  • The Chairperson advised Members that the Committee for Culture Arts and Leisure has suggested a date of 12 June 2013 for all Committees that meet on Wednesdays to hold a meeting in Londonderry/Derry during the UK Year of Culture.
    Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule the meeting into its Forward Work Programme.

14. Any other Business

None.

15. Date, time and place of next meeting

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the next meeting should be held on Wednesday 27 February 2013 at 10:00 am in Room 29, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.31 pm.

Mr Thomas Buchanan MLA
Deputy Chairperson, Committee for Employment & Learning

27 February 2013

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