Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Wednesday, 20 February 2013
Venue: Room 30
The meeting opened in public session at 2.06 p.m.
1. Chairperson’s Business
Briefing from Department of Education
The Chairperson advised Members that the briefing from Department of Education officials scheduled for today on OFMDFM’ responsibilities under the Education Bill will not take place as political discussions are still continuing and the Minister for Education considers it would be more appropriate to postpone the session.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to reschedule the briefing from Department of Education officials.
Invitation to St Patrick’s Day Events in Washington
The Committee considered an invitation from the First Minister and deputy First Minister to the Chairperson, the Deputy Chairperson and a representative from each of the parties represented on the Committee to attend the Northern Ireland Bureau’s Breakfast meeting and other events in Washington DC. There was a discussion in relation to cost and representation.
Mr Maskey proposed that it be left to parties to decide if they wished to nominate a representative to attend the Washington events and that parties would notify the Committee Office by Monday 25 February 2013.
The Committee divided:
Ayes: Megan Fearon, Paul Givan, Brenda Hale, Alex Maskey, Bronwyn McGahan and George Robinson
Noes: Mike Nesbitt
Agreed: The Committee agreed that parties would decide if they wished to nominate a representative to attend the Washington events and that parties would notify the Committee Office by Monday 25 February 2013.
The Committee considered a request from AGE NI to brief the Committee on the work it has been carrying out in relation to age discrimination legislation and the development of a new Ageing Strategy.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule a briefing into the Committee’s Forward Work Programme.
The Committee noted an invitation to attend the launch of Advice NI’s Tax Credits Policy Paper on 11 March 2013.
Integrated Outcomes Based Planning for Children and Young People
The Committee noted an invitation to attend an event entitled “Experiencing Economic and Environmental Well-Being” on Friday 22 February 2013.
Northern Ireland Ombudsman
The Chairperson advised Members that the Northern Ireland Ombudsman will brief the Committee at next week’s meeting on issues raised during last week’s consideration of proposals to update the Office of the Ombudsman.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to share its summary of responses document with the Ombudsman in advance of the briefing.
List of Invitations
The Committee noted the list of current invitations.
2. Draft minutes of the meeting held on 13 February 2013
Agreed: The draft minutes of proceedings of 13 February 2013 was agreed by the Committee.
3. Matters Arising
Statutory Committee’s EU Priorities 2013
The Committee noted responses from the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development and the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure in relation to their priorities for European Scrutiny in 2013.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to consider the responses again when all statutory committee responses had been received.
Committee for Finance and Personnel
The Chairperson considered correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel providing further information on previous evaluations of EU funding programmes and the mid-term evaluation of PEACE III.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to request that the Assembly’s Research and Information Service review the evaluations when they become available.
Report of Committee Visit to Brussels
The Committee noted the Report of the Committee’s visit to Brussels to attend a PEACE Funding Conference and other meetings.
List of Outstanding Issues
The Committee noted the list of outstanding issues.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write robustly to the Department in relation to the delayed briefing on the progress of the Department’s Programme for Government commitments.
Assembly and Executive Review Committee
The Committee considered correspondence from the Assembly and Executive Review Committee in relation to its call for evidence on its review of D’Hondt, community designation and provisions for opposition.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content for parties to respond to the call for submissions.
Integrated Education Fund
The Committee noted correspondence from the Integrated Education Fund advising of its call for applications for the 14th round of Promoting a Culture of Trust (PACT) Grant Making Programme.
Mr Lyttle joined the meeting at 2.28 p.m.
Committee for the Environment
The Chairperson considered correspondence from the Committee for the Environment in relation a European Commission proposal for a directive on alternative fuels infrastructure and a possible subsidiarity issue raised in the related UK Government’s Explanatory Memorandum on the proposal.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to ask if this Commission Proposal and/or Explanatory Memorandum have been referred to specific Northern Ireland Ministers for comment and whether OFMDFM or any other NI Ministers share the UK Government’s concerns regarding subsidiarity as outlined in the explanatory memorandum.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to liaise with the Assembly’s Legal Services and the Assembly’s Research and Information Service on this issue.
Agreed: The Committee also agreed to seek the views of the Committee for the Environment and the Committee for Regional Development, and their respective Departments, on this issue.
Age Discrimination Legislation – Goods Facilities and Services
The Committee noted correspondence from the Department on progress in bringing forward Age Discrimination legislation.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward a response from the Department in relation to the Children’s University to the Committee for Employment and Learning.
Minority Ethnic Development Fund
The Committee noted correspondence from the Department informing the Committee about the call for applications under the Minority Ethnic Development Fund.
Childcare Consultation Events
The Chairperson considered correspondence from the Department providing further information on the Department’s public consultation meetings in relation to the Childcare Strategy.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department in relation to whether the location of the events would encourage attendance by those facing the particular issues affecting childcare provision in rural areas, the lack of a Tyrone venue, and to request that the Department consider further consultation events to address these concerns.
Mr McCallister joined the meeting at 2.35 p.m.
5. Childcare Strategy
The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People joined the meeting at 2.37p.m.
Ms Patricia Lewsley-Mooney, the Commissioner for Children and Young People and Mrs Jacqueline Melville, Policy and Research Officer briefed the Committee on the Report – “Still Vulnerable” The Impact of Early Childhood Experiences on Adolescent Suicide and Accidental Death.
Mr McCallister left the meeting at 3.09 p.m.
The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People left the meeting at 3.16 p.m.
Mr Maskey left the meeting at 3.17 p.m.
6. Executive’s European Priorities
Departmental officials joined the meeting at 3.19 p.m.
Departmental officials, Dr Gerry Mulligan and Dr Paul Geddis briefed the Committee on the mid-year report of the Executive’s European Priorities 2012/13 and on the Executive’s draft Priorities for 2013/14.
Mr Givan joined the meeting at 3.50 p.m.
Departmental officials left the meeting at 3.50 p.m.
7. Committee Priorities for European Scrutiny
A Research Officer from the Assembly’s Research and Information Service briefed the Committee on issues identified in the European Commission’s Work Programme as possible priorities for the Committee during 2013.
8. Any Other Business
The Committee noted the Forward Work Programme.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to seek further information on Magdalene Laundries, or similar institutions, in Northern Ireland and whether they come within the scope of the Inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse.
9. Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting will be held in Room 30, Parliament Buildings on Wednesday 27 February 2013 at 2 p.m.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 4.00 p.m.
Mr Mike Nesbitt MLA
Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister