Minutes of Proceedings
Date: Thursday, 14 March 2013
Venue: Room 29, Parliament Buildings
The meeting began in closed session at 10.07am
1. Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements Order 1985 – Briefing by Legal Services
Mr Mark H Durkan joined the meeting at 10.11am
Mr Gregory Campbell joined the meeting at 10.12am
The Committee received a briefing by Legal Services on issues relating to the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements Order 1985.
The Chairperson declared the meeting open to the public at 10.34am.
Mr Michael Copeland left the meeting at 10.34am
Ms Pam Brown left the meeting at 10.35am
Apologies were as indicated above.
3. Draft Minutes of Meetings 7 March 2013
Agreed: The minutes of the meetings held on 7 March 2013 were agreed.
4. Chairperson's Business
4.1 The Chairperson highlighted to Members the EU Commission's proposal for Member States to ring-fence 5% of their national European Regional Development Fund allocations for integrated sustainable urban development projects.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to receive a briefing from the Department on a proposal for Member States to ring-fence 5% of their national ERDF allocations for integrated sustainable urban development projects and the implications for future funding here.
4.2 The Chairperson advised Members that the venue for the housing event on 11 April will be in the La Mon Hotel.
5. Matters Arising
5.1 The Chairperson drew Members' attention to the Department's response on the costs associated with the change to specification of hinges used by the Housing Executive.
Mr Michael Copeland re-joined the meeting at 10.39am
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department highlighting the Committee's concerns and request that the Committee is kept informed about the procurement exercise and the assessment of the actual savings realised as a result of the procurement exercise.
5.2 The Chairperson advised Members that the inter-departmental Taskforce on the withdrawal of the Special Needs Management Allowance was scheduled to meet that day and it is anticipated that representatives from that group will attend an informal joint meeting with the Health Committee to brief members.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to representatives from the Committee to attend the meeting with the Chairperson which will be scheduled for after Easter recess.
6. Welfare Reform and Universal Credit Communication Plan – Departmental Briefing
The following officials from the Department and the Social Security Agency joined the meeting 10.45am:
• Sharon Gallagher, Operational Change Director, SSA
• Ciara Dolan, Senior Welfare Reform Engagement Manager; SSA and
• Paul McKillen, Principal Statistician, DSD.
The officials briefed the Committee on the communications plan for welfare reform. The officials also briefed the Committee on the recently published information booklets on Universal Credit and Benefit Cap.
Ms Judith Cochrane joined the meeting at 10.57am
The Committee were presented with a draft version of the leaflet 'Welfare Reform – The benefit system is changing – How will it affect you?'
Mr Michael Copeland left the meeting at 11.07am
The Committee acknowledged that it was necessary to have a communications plan in place but expressed concerns that releasing a leaflet on the changes to the welfare system before the legislative process may generate even more concern among people. Some Members expressed the view that releasing a leaflet on changes to the welfare system before the legislative process has concluded was contemptuous of that process.
Mr Michael Copeland re-joined the meeting at 11.15am
Ms Paula Bradley joined the meeting at 11.21am
The Committee acknowledged how crucial it is for those people who will be affected by the changes to be informed but highlighted the importance of timing in relation to the release of the leaflet.
Mr Michael Copeland left the meeting at 11.28am
Mr Mickey Brady left the meeting at 11.31am
The Chairperson thanked the officials for their attendance at the meeting.
The officials left the meeting at 11.32am.
This session was recorded by Hansard
7. Licensing Legislation – Briefing by the NI Retail Consortium
Mr Aodhán Connolly joined the meeting at 11.32am and provided the Committee with a briefing on the NI Retail Consortium's concerns relating to proposed changes to regulations on the supply and sale of alcohol.
Ms Pam Brown re-joined the meeting at 11.40am
Mr Gregory Campbell left the meeting at 11.44am
A detailed discussion followed which covered a number of important issues including: the structural separation between alcohol and other goods in supermarkets; restrictions on advertising of alcohol in supermarkets and off sales; and the proposals for children to be banned from alcohol aisles in supermarkets.
At 11.51am Mr Mark H Durkan declared an interest in family licensed premises.
Mr Sydney Anderson left the meeting at 11.53am
The Committee acknowledged that more needs to be done to tackle under-age sales and problem drinking but did not feel that the Department's proposals in respect of retailers would achieve this. Some Members suggested that a focus of education programmes highlighting the impact and dangers of excessive alcohol consumption would be a better way forward.
Mr David McClarty left the meeting at 12.08pm
The Chairperson thanked Mr Connolly for his attendance at the meeting.
Mr Connolly left the meeting at 12.11pm.
8. Proposed Subordinate Legislation
8.1 The Registered Rents (Increase) Order (Northern Ireland)
The Committee considered the above mentioned proposed subordinate legislation.
Agreed: The Committee were content for the Rule to be made.
9. Statutory Rules
9.1 SR 50/2013 The Social Security (Claims and Payments) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013
Question put and agreed:
That the Committee for Social Development has considered Statutory Rule SR50 2013 The Social Security (Claims and Payments) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013 and, subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report has no objections to the Rule.
9.2 SR 56 2013 The Pneumoconiosis, etc., (Workers' Compensation) (Payment of Claims) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013
Question put and agreed:
That the Committee for Social Development has considered the Statutory Rule SR 56/ 2013 the Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers Compensation) (Payment of Claims) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013 and recommends that it be affirmed by the Assembly.
9.3 SR 57 2013 The Mesothelioma Lump sum Payments (Conditions and Amounts) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013
Question put and agreed:
That the Committee for Social Development has considered the Statutory Rule SR 57 2013 The Mesothelioma Lump Sum Payments (Conditions and Amounts) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013 and subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules report, recommends that it be confirmed by the Assembly.
10.1 The Committee noted correspondence from the Department in response to the Committee's request for clarification on the issue of outsourcing some existing DSD posts to the private sector.
10.2 The Committee considered correspondence from the Department regarding the Westminster Draft pensions Bill and the corresponding Bill for Northern Ireland.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule a briefing from the Department on the provisions of the Bill.
10.3 The Committee considered correspondence from Saint Joseph's Primary School, Antrim, on behalf of 5 primary schools, expressing concerns regarding its exclusion from the Nurture Group Funding and the criteria to receive funding.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward this item of correspondence to the Department to ask for comment on the issues raised.
Members were content for the remaining items of correspondence to be dealt with as per the correspondence memo.
11. Forward Work Programme
The Committee were content with the proposed Forward Work Programme.
12. Any Other Business
There was no other business.
13. Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting will take place at 10:00am on Thursday 21 March 2013 in Room 29 Parliament Buildings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 11.20pm.
Mr Alex Maskey
Chairperson, Committee for Social Development.
21 March 2013