ASSEMBLY BUSINESS

Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Thursday, 28 June 2012

Venue: Room 29

 The meeting began in public session at 9.43am                    

1. Apologies

Apologies were as indicated above.

2. Draft Minutes of Meeting 21 June 2012       

Agreed:  The minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 21 June 2012 were agreed.

3. Chairperson’s Business

The deputy Chairperson advised Members that the Chairperson has been contacted by a solicitor regarding a suggested anomaly in the Licensing (NI) Order 1996.  This has resulted in their client not being permitted to sell alcohol on a Sunday during its dog racing events.  The deputy Chairperson advised Members that the Minister has informed the solicitor in question that he has asked his officials to consider this as part of the forthcoming consultation on licensing laws. The solicitor has been advised to re-engage with the Committee as and when this consultation takes place.

4. Matters Arising

The deputy Chairperson advised Members that the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations has copied the Committee into correspondence to the Department regarding the on-going issue around Special Needs Management Allowance.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule a briefing with the Department after the recess period.

The Committee considered a draft response to the Fundamental Review of the Regulation of Houses in Multiple Occupation.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the response to the Department.

The deputy Chairperson advised Members that the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment has written to the Committee regarding the Ministers decision not to proceed with the Green New Deal.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to seek confirmation that the Green New Deal is not proceeding and the earmarked £12m will now go towards a boiler replacement/scrappage scheme.  The Committee also agreed to request a copy of the economic appraisal of the Green New Deal.  The Committee agreed to seek clarification if tenants can opt to move to gas rather than oil when replacing a boiler.

Ms Paula Bradley joined the meeting at 9:49am.

5. Irresponsible Drinks Promotions – Departmental Briefing

The following Department officials joined the meeting at 9.49am:

Mr Liam Quinn, DSD; and

Ms Margaret O’Hare, DSD

The officials briefed the Committee on the outcome of the public consultation on Irresponsible Drinks Promotions.

Mr Mark H Durkan declared an interest in a family run licensed premises.

Members welcomed legislation that will ban certain irresponsible drinks promotions.

Members agreed with the proposals to restrict promotions that involve the supply of unlimited amounts of intoxicating liquor for a fixed price.

Members expressed some concerns regarding the proposals to restrict the price at which the holder of a licence may sell alcohol on licensed premises a package containing two or more intoxicating liquor products.  In particular Members’ were concerned that this legislation would in effect penalise the vast amount of people who avail of such promotions but who drink responsibly.

Members also had concerns that in a time of austerity this proposed legislation affected responsible consumers’ ability to save money through promotions which facilitated competition between retailers.

Some Members voiced concerns that the legislation represented unwarranted government intrusion into the lives of citizens i.e. ‘political correctness’ rather than good legislation.

Mr Alex Easton joined the meeting at 10:01am.

The deputy Chairperson thanked the officials for the briefing.

The officials left the meeting at 10.09am.

Agreed: The Committee agreed for the Clerk to draft a response to the consultation and bring it to the Committee for approval.

6. Business Improvement Districts – Departmental Briefing

The following Department officials joined the meeting at 10:10am: 

Mr Henry McArdle, DSD;

Mr Anthony McDaid; DSD; and

Ms Gail Cheesman, DSD

The officials briefed the Committee on the Business Improvement Districts Bill.  This was followed by a question and answer session.

Members questioned officials on operational issues relating to the establishment and function of a BID. Members were particularly interested in provisions to opt out of such a scheme and the requirements of a voluntary scheme versus a mandatory scheme.

A number of Members noted that it would be beneficial to visit a BID to get a better understanding of how it operates and the advantages to being a member of a BID.

Ms Paula Bradley declared an interest as a business owner.

The briefing session was recorded by Hansard.

The deputy Chairperson thanked the officials for their briefing.

The officials left the meeting at 10:39am.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to proceed with a call for evidence on the Bill over the summer recess period.  The Committee also agreed a draft public notice calling for evidence.

7. Introduction of the UK Work Programme to NI – Briefing by NICVA

The following representatives joined the meeting at 10:40am:

Mr Seamus McAleavey;

Ms Edith Dunlop; and

Ms Paula Quinn

The representatives briefed the Committee on the introduction of the UK Work Programme and answered questions on a range of issues including why the current Work Programme should not necessarily be imported to Northern Ireland; how things could be done differently here to help address the key issues in Northern Ireland; and how local voluntary and community organisations are best placed to help develop a work programme for Northern Ireland.  

Ms Paula Bradley left the meeting at 10:52am

The deputy Chairperson thanked the representatives for their briefing.

The representatives left the meeting at 10:57am.

Mr David McClarty left the meeting at 10:57am

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Committee for Employment and Learning to seek an update on the consultation to date and the timetable for development and implementation of the Work Programme.

8. Impact of Welfare Reform on Women – Briefing by the Women’s Ad-hoc Policy Group

The following representatives joined the meeting at 10:58am:

Ms Bronagh Hynds;

Ms Marie Cavanagh;

Ms Sharon Burnett; and

Ms Lynn Carvill

Ms Paula Bradley re-joined the meeting at 11:03am.

The representatives briefed the Committee on the impact of welfare reform on women.

A detailed question and answer session followed covering a range of issues including how Universal Credit could potentially give women less control of the household income if it is to be paid to one member in the household; how a childcare strategy could help mitigate the impact to working mothers and lone parents; the need to scrutinise Housing Benefit under Universal Credit through a gendered lens; and ways in which the Executive and the Assembly could use ‘flexible parity’ to mitigate the worst effects of welfare reform.

Ms Judith Cochrane joined the meeting at 11:23am.

Mr Alex Easton left the meeting at 11:40am.

Members welcomed the recommendations provided by the Policy Group and agreed to formally consult with the Group as part of the Committee’s scrutiny of the Bill.

Mr Fra McCann joined the meeting at 11:46am.

The deputy Chairperson thanked the representatives for their briefing.

The representatives left the meeting at 11:47am.   

9. Proposed Subordinate Legislation

The Landlord Registration Scheme Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012

The Committee considered correspondence from the Department regarding the Committee’s concerns with these Regulations.  The Committee agreed that despite potential deficiencies in the Regulations they represented a first step towards regulation of the sector.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to for the Rule to be made.

Mr Alex Easton re-joined the meeting at 11:51am.

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012

Members agreed with the general principle of a scheme but expressed some concerns with the lack of detail on the type of scheme.  Members also expressed concerns that there is no indication of who will be the administrator of a scheme. 

Agreed: The Committee agreed for the Rule to be made though it also agreed to seek further clarification on some aspects of the Regulations.

The Pension Protection Fund (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012

Agreed: The Committee agreed for the Rule to be made.

The Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Prescribed Bodies) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012

Agreed: The Committee agreed for the Rule to be made.

The Hybrid Schemes Quality Requirements Rules (Northern Ireland) 2012

Agreed: The Committee agreed for the Rule to be made.

10. Correspondence

The Committee noted correspondence from the Minister regarding concerns raised at the current situation involving Trinity Housing Association.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule a briefing from the Department after the recess period.

The Committee noted correspondence from the Department for Finance and Personnel setting out the Department’s agreed position to the first monitoring round of this financial year.

The Committee noted correspondence from the Department in relation to the Committee’s query regarding ‘off the shelf’ homes.

The Committee noted correspondence from the Department in relation to the Committee’s concerns regarding the draft Corporate Plan 2011-2015 and Business Plan 2012/13.

The Committee noted correspondence from the Department regarding the Committee’s request for an update on the Lagan Rescue Advisory Group.

The Committee considered correspondence from the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment regarding an evaluation of the impact of welfare reform on fuel poverty.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward this item of correspondence to the Department for comment.

The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel regarding the Departmental Savings Delivery Plans – March 2012.

The Committee noted correspondence from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister in relation to the Advisory Group on Alleviating Hardship.

The Committee considered correspondence from the Employers for Childcare requesting an opportunity to give a briefing on the development of a new childcare service.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule a briefing from the Employers for Childcare after the summer recess period.

Agreed: The Committee agreed for the remaining items of correspondence to be dealt with as per the proposed next steps in the correspondence Memo.

11. Forward Work Programme

Agreed: The Committee agreed to note the draft 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 5 July 2012 in Room 29 Parliament Buildings.  

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12:07pm

Mr Alex Maskey
Chairperson, Committee for Social Development.
5 July 2012

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