Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Thursday, 26 May 2011

Venue: Room 29, Parliament Buildings

The meeting began at 10.04am in open session.

1. Apologies

Apologies were as noted.

2. Chairperson’s Business

The Chairperson briefed the Committee on a recent meeting that he had held with the Permanent Secretary for the Department for Social Development and advised that further informal meetings with senior Departmental officials are scheduled for the coming weeks.

3. Committee Membership

The Committee noted details of the Members of the Committee for Social Development.

4. Staff Contact Details

The Chairperson introduced the staff of the Social Development Committee Office and the Northern Ireland Assembly Research and Information Service appointed to support the Committee.

5. Arrangements for Committee Meetings

The Chairperson advised Members of the arrangements governing future meetings of the Committee for Social Development

Agreed: Members agreed with the dates and times for Committee meetings.

Agreed:The Committee agreed that unless there was an overriding reason for proceedings to be closed, meetings should be held in public session,

Agreed: Members agreed that they were content for their contact details to be shared with Hansard staff.

Agreed: Members agreed that they were content with the proposed arrangements for meetings of the Social Development Committee.

6. Declaration of Members’ Interest

The Chairperson reminded Members that the Guide to the Rules Relating to the Conduct of Members requires that, before the first meeting of a Committee, Members must send details of any interests, financial or otherwise to the Clerk of Standards.

Mr H Durkan declared an interest as a non-remunerated member of management boards of several Neighbourhood Renewal and community development groups.

The Chairperson reminded Members of their continuing obligation to declare interests.

7. Committee Procedures

The Committee noted the following guidance papers:

  • Guide to the Powers and Operation of Statutory Committees for Chairpersons and Members
  • Guide to the Role of Committee Chairpersons
  • Guide for Members to the Role and Functions of the Committee Office
  • Providing an Effective Research Service to Committees- Good Practice Guidelines.

8. Departmental Guidance on Assembly Committees

The Committee noted the guidance paper on timescales for interaction between Assembly Committees and departments.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it would seek clarity from the Department in respect of the protocol for informing the Committee of visits by Ministers from other Departments to projects which are also supported by DSD.

9. Social Development Committee: Legacy Report 2007-2011

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content to note the 2007-11 Legacy Report for the previous Committee for Social Development.

10. Briefing by the Departmental for Social Development

The following senior officials from the Department for Social Development joined the meeting at 10.19am:

Mr Will Haire – Permanent Secretary, DSD;

Mr Tommy O’Reilly – Chief Executive, Social Security Agency;

Ms Heather Cousins- Deputy Secretary, Resources, Housing and Social Security Group, DSD; and

Mr David Ferguson – Deputy Secretary, Urban Regeneration and Community Development Group, DSD.

Mr Haire gave an overview of the overall responsibilities and key priorities of the Department. This was followed by a question and answer session.

Mr David McClarty left the meeting at 10.29am

Ms Pam Lewis joined the meeting at 10.37am

Mr Gregory Campbell left the meeting at 10.51am

Mr Gregory Campbell re-joined the meeting at 10.57am

The Chairperson thanked the officials for the briefing.

The officials left the meeting at 11.03am

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content to return to the issues raised in respect of the Welfare Reform Bill, and the inter-departmental Ministerial Group on Neighbourhood Renewal, when the Committee next considers these matters.

Mr Fra Mc Cann left the meeting at 11.04am

Mr Fra McCann re-joined the meeting at 11.05am

11. Initial Draft Forward Work Programme

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content with the initial 6 week draft forward work programme.

12. Subordinate Legislation

The Committee noted the guidance paper on handling subordinate legislation.

The Chairperson informed the Committee of the procedures in relation to the delegation of responsibility for reporting on the technical aspects of statutory rules to the Examiner of Statutory Rules.

Mr Alex Easton left the meeting at 11.13am

Agreed: The Committee agreed the following motion:

“That the Committee for Social Development, under Standing Order 43 resolves to delegate to the Examiner of Statutory Rules the technical scrutiny of statutory rules referred to the Committee under the above mentioned Standing Order.

The Committee further resolves that in carrying out this function the Examiner shall be authorised to report his technical findings on each statutory rule to the Assembly, and to the relevant Department, as well as to the Committee itself and to publish his report.”

The following Departmental officials joined the meeting at 11.21am:

Anne McCleary, Director, Social Security Policy and Legislation Division, DSD;

Michael Pollack, Social Security Policy and Legislation Division, DSD; and

Janis Creane, Social Security Policy and Legislation Division, DSD.

The officials briefed the Committee on three Statutory Rules laid by the Department immediately before dissolution in March 2011. This was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it would write to the Department to seek further clarification in respect of SR 136/2011: The Housing Benefit (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (NI) 2011. In particular, the Committee sought clarification on:

  • The current number of people who would be affected by the proposals contained within the Regulations;
  • The potential impact on claimants of annulling these Regulations;
  • Possible measures or access to benefits which may ease the impact of these Regulations on the affected claimants.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it would defer making a decision on the three Statutory Rules until the Committee meeting of 2 June 2011.

The Chairperson thanked the officials for their briefing.

13. Correspondence

Agreed:The Committee agreed to note various items of correspondence sent to the Committee during the dissolution period.

Agreed:The Committee agreed to write and accept an invitation from the Committee Representing Independent Supporting People Providers’ (CRISPP) to hold a future meeting of the Social Development Committee at one of its supported housing projects.

14. Any Other Business

The Committee agreed that it would meet in advance of the Committee meeting of 2 June to allow a formal Committee photo to be taken at the steps of the Great Hall.

Mr Gregory Campbell left the meeting at 11.54am

Ms Pam Lewis left the meeting at 11.55am

15. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will take place on Thursday 2 June 2011 in Room 29, Parliament Buildings at 10.00am.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 11.57am.

Mr Alex Maskey
Chairperson, Committee for Social Development.
2 June 2011

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