Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Wednesday, 05 September 2012
Venue: Room 30
The meeting opened in public session at 2.05 p.m.
1. Chairperson’s Business
Consumer Focus Post
The Committee considered a request from Consumer Focus Post to brief the Committee on the findings and outcomes of its report on: A “Front Office” for Government Services – The Post Office in NI.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to invite Consumer Focus Post to its stakeholder event.
Belfast Migrant Centre
The Committee noted an invitation from Belfast Migrant Centre to attend its Annual General Meeting on 21 September 2012.
Bryson Charitable Group – Building Better Futures
The Committee noted an invitation from the Bryson Charitable Group to its Building Better Futures event on Wednesday 26 September 2012.
European Commission Office in Belfast
The Committee noted an email from Maurice Maxwell, Head of the European Commission’s Office in Belfast advising that he was leaving the European Commission at the end of August and that Colette Fitzgerald will be taking over as Head of the Office.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to Maurice Maxwell to thank him for his work with the Committee over the years.
The Chairperson updated Members on the next meeting of the Chairpersons of the UK’s EU Committee, which will take place at Parliament Buildings on Monday 22 October 2012.
Appointment of the Commissioner for Victims and Survivors
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the newly appointed Commissioner for Victims and Survivors to wish her well in her new role and express the Committee’s wish to meet with her when she has settled into post.
2. Draft minutes of the meeting held on 4 July 2012
Agreed: The draft minutes of proceedings of 4 July was agreed by the Committee.
3. Matters Arising
The Committee considered a response from the Minister for Education in relation to the inclusion of schools and Boards of Governors in the Ombudsman’s remit.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Northern Ireland Ombudsman to seek his views on the issues arising.
Maze/Long Kesh Update Report
The Committee considered the June update report on the Maze/Long Kesh site.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister for Social Development for clarification in relation to the future of the Fort George site.
The Committee noted a response from the Department providing further information on the impact of the Rates freeze in addressing child poverty.
Victims and Survivors Service Business Case
The Committee considered a response from the Department advising that it would not be releasing or publishing the business case for the Victims and Survivors Service.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to seek further clarification on the reasons why the Department would not be releasing the business case to the Committee.
Mr Clarke joined the meeting at 2.22 p.m.
Programme for Government Scrutiny
The Committee noted a response from the Department providing further information on how the Assembly and its committees will be involved in the scrutiny of Departments’ performance in relation to their Programme for Government commitments.
Equality Commission for Northern Ireland
The Committee considered a response from the Department in relation to the religious imbalance within the Equality Commission’s workforce.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Chairperson would follow-up with the Department on the nature of the its response and the time taken to provide it.
The Committee considered a response from the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland providing further information on the outputs and outcomes of its engagement programme.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to contact the Equality Commission to seek further clarification in relation to the information provided.
List of Outstanding Issues
The Committee noted the list of outstanding issues.
NICEM - Minority Ethnic Development Fund
The Committee noted correspondence from the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities and from the Department providing a copy of the evaluation of the 2011 Minority Ethnic Development Fund and proposals for a revamped fund.
Committee for Employment and Learning
The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for Employment and Learning providing information on its Inquiry into Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance in NI.
Consultation Paper – Proposed changes in the law to tackle human trafficking
The Committee noted a copy of the consultation paper by Lord Morrow on Proposed Changes to the Law to Tackle Human Trafficking.
EU Priorities 2012-13 – Implementation Plan
Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward a copy of the Implementation Plan for Executive’s European Priorities for 2012/13 to all relevant statutory committees.
Barroso Taskforce Newsletter
The Committee noted a copy of the summer 2012 Barroso Taskforce News.
Programme for Government
The Committee noted correspondence from the Department advising that lead responsibility for Programme for Government commitment 78 – Improving Access to Online Government Services - is now with the Department for Finance and Personnel.
PSNI Equal Pay
The Committee noted correspondence from PSNI Civilian Staff updating the Committee on developments in relation to equal pay.
The Met Office
The Committee noted correspondence from the Met Office providing further information on Explaining Extreme Events of 2011 from a Climate Perspective.
Departmental Retention and Disposal Schedule
The Committee noted a copy of the Department’s Retention and Disposal Schedule for documents and records.
The Committee noted Annual Reports from the Northern Ireland Ombudsman, the Strategic Investment Board and ILEX.
Memorandum of Response
The Committee noted a copy of the Department of Finance and Personnel’s Memorandum of Response to the Public Accounts Committee’s Report on Former Military Sites and Ilex.
5. The Inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse Bill
The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission joined the meeting at 2.36 p.m.
Ms Ruane joined the meeting at 2.45 p.m.
Professor Michael O’Flaherty and Ms Rhiannon Blythe from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission briefed the Committee on its response to the Inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse Bill. A question and answer session followed.
The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission left the meeting at 3.16 p.m.
Representatives from SAVIA joined the meeting at 3.16 p.m.
Mr Jon McCourt and Ms Margaret McGuckin, representatives from SAVIA briefed the Committee on its response to the Inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse Bill. A question and answer session followed.
Representatives from SAVIA left the meeting at 3.45 p.m.
The Committee considered correspondence from the Department providing further information in relation to the changes in care arrangements post 1995.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the Department’s correspondence in relation to changes in care arrangements post 1995 to the Children’s Law Centre for comment and to request further information on occasions when the 1995 Order was not effective.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to request that it responds to the issues raised in today’s evidence sessions with the NI Human Rights Commission and SAVIA and in relation to any amendments to the Bill which the Department is considering. The Committee also agreed to write to the Department to ask if in the context of the issues raised by the NI Human Rights Commission, whether the Attorney General was content that the Bill as introduced provides the required level of protection under the European Convention on Human Rights.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Clerk would schedule evidence sessions over the coming weeks.
Mr Molloy left the meeting at 4.00 p.m.
Ms Ruane left the meeting at 4.01 p.m.
Agreed: The Committee agreed a motion to extend the Committee Stage of the Bill to Friday 26 October 2012.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to issue a press communication in relation to the Committee’s work on the Bill.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to share with the Department the written submissions it has received on the Bill.
6. Any Other Business
Forward Work Programme
The Committee noted Outline Forward Work Programme.
7. Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting will be held in Room 30, Parliament Buildings on Wednesday 12 September 2012 at 2 p.m.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 4.05 p.m.
Mr Mike Nesbitt MLA
Chairperson, Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister