Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Wednesday, 25 April 2012
Venue: Room 30, Parliament Buildings
The meeting opened in public session at 2.03 p.m.
1. Chairperson’s Business
Mr Danny Kinahan MLA
The Chairperson welcomed Mr Danny Kinahan MLA, as a new Member of the Committee. The Committee noted his Declaration of Interests and Mr Kinahan commented on some points.
Child Poverty Act – Annual Report
The Committee considered correspondence from the Department advising that the Child Poverty Act – Annual Report was due to be considered by the Executive at its meeting on 26 April 2012, and that subject to approval by the Executive, Departmental officials will brief the Committee at the meeting of 2 May 2012.
Agreed: The Committee agreed that it would seek advice on the legal implications, if any, of the failure to lay the Report by the due date and to clarify responsibility under the Act.
Draft Older People’s Strategy
The Committee noted correspondence from the Department apologising for the delay in briefing the Committee on the Draft Older People’s Strategy. Members agreed to raise this with the Commissioner for Older People later in the meeting.
Progressing Good Relations Report
Members considered the Executive Summary of the University of Ulster’s Progressing Good Relations and Reconciliation in Post Agreement Northern Ireland Report.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule a briefing from the authors of the report into the Forward Work Programme.
The Committee considered arrangements for the Committee’s meeting at the Balmoral Show on 16 May 2012.
Agreed: Members agreed that they would make their own way to the venue for the Committee meeting.
British and Irish Ombudsman Association
The Chairperson advised Members that he had been invited to attend a dinner held by the British and Irish Ombudsman Association on 17 May 2012.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to leave the decision as to whether to attend with the Chairperson.
Community Relations Council Policy Conference 2012
The Committee noted an invite to attend the Community Relations Council Annual Policy Conference on 14 May 2012 at the Titanic Signature Project.
The Committee noted the list of current invitations.
2. Draft minutes of the meeting held on 18 April 2012
Agreed: The draft minutes of proceedings of 18 April 2012 was agreed by the Committee.
3. Matters Arising
Committee for Education
The Committee considered a response from the First Minister and deputy First Minister to the Committee for Education regarding its suggestion for a Department for Children and Young People.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the response to the Committee for Education.
Draft Disability Strategy
The Committee considered a response from the First Minister and deputy First Minister to comments raised by the Committee in relation to the draft Disability Strategy. The response also advised that the Department will offer an analysis of the consultation responses at the earliest opportunity.
Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development
The Committee noted a response from the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development in relation to the proposals to abolish the Department for Employment and Learning and redistribute its functions.
List of Outstanding Issues
The Committee noted the list of outstanding issues.
Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety
The Committee considered correspondence from the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety to the Department in relation to the “Protect Life” Strategy on suicide and self-harm.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the correspondence to the Department for response,
Committee for Finance and Personnel
The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel regarding the Department for Finance and Personnel’s review of budget allocations for 2013/14 and 2014/15. The Committee agreed to consider this issue again at next week’s meeting when the Committee will be briefed by Departmental officials on the Budget for 2012/13.
Joint Ministerial Committee (Europe)
The Committee considered correspondence from junior Ministers, which included a summary of the discussion from the meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee (Europe) held on 2 February 2012.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to request a written briefing on the new “upstream” engagement process. The Committee also agreed to request further information on the role of the four new desk officers, including how their work relates to departments here.
Fair Employment (Specification of Public Bodies) (Amendment) Order (Northern Ireland) 2012
The Committee considered an extract from the Report of the Examiner of Statutory Rules in relation to the Fair Employment (Specification of Public Authorities) (Amendment) Order (NI) 2012. The report highlighted some issues of consistency of approach in relation to bodies being listed in Part 1 or Part 2 of the schedule and indicated that the Department would address this in next year’s updating order.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to seek confirmation that next year’s updating order will consider the issues raised by the examiner.
5. Commissioner for Older People
The Commissioner for Older People and officials from the Office of the Commissioner for Older People joined the meeting at 2.26 p.m.
Ms Ruane joined the meeting at 2.45 p.m.
Mr Lyttle joined the meeting at 2.55 p.m.
The Commissioner for Older People, Ms Claire Keatinge and officials Frank Fleming and Donna Heaney briefed the Committee on the work of the Commissioner for Older People. A question and answer session followed.
The Commissioner for Older People and officials from the Office of the Commissioner for Older People left the meeting at 3.36 p.m.
6. Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission
Representatives from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission joined the meeting at 3.39 p.m.
Mr Eastwood left the meeting at 4.03 p.m.
Professor Michael O’Flaherty, Chief Commissioner, and Mrs Virgina McVea, Director at the Human Rights Commission, briefed the Committee on the work of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the opportunities for committees and the Assembly in considering human rights issues. A question and answer session followed.
Representatives from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission left the meeting at 4.22 p.m.
7. Any Other Business
Forward Work Programme
The Committee noted the updated Forward Work Programme.
8. Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting will be in Room 30, Parliament Buildings on Wednesday 2 May 2012 at 2 p.m.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 4.31 p.m.
Mr Mike Nesbitt MLA
Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister