Official Report (Hansard)

Session: 2007/2008

Date: Thursday, 29 November 2007

Libraries Bill

Thursday 29 November 2007

Members present for all or part of the proceedings:

Mr Barry McElduff (Chairperson)
Mr David McNarry (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Dominic Bradley
Mr Francie Brolly
Lord Browne
Mr Kieran McCarthy
Mr Nelson McCausland
Mr Pat Ramsey
Mr Ken Robinson
Mr Jim Shannon

Witnesses:

Ms Irene Armstrong ) Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure
Mr Colin Jack )
Ms Julie Mapstone )
Mr Denis Arnold ) Northern Ireland Assembly Bill Office

The Chairperson (Mr McElduff):

We now turn to clause-by-clause scrutiny of the Libraries Bill, except for schedule 2. Schedule 2, which relates to staff transfers, will be dealt with at next week’s meeting, when the departmental solicitor’s office will be available to provide clarification, if required.

Clause-by-clause scrutiny allows members the opportunity to raise any concerns about — or suggest any amendments to — the Bill. Members should read the relevant clauses in the Bill, along with the related commentary in the explanatory and financial memorandum.

I invite the senior Departmental officials to the table. They are Mr Colin Jack, Ms Julie Mapstone and Ms Irene Armstrong. A member of staff from the Bill Office, Mr Denis Arnold, is also in attendance.

The Bill has 13 clauses. Each clause, including any subsections of those clauses, must be considered in turn. The Committee has three options: it can agree that the clause should stand part of the Bill, it can agree on any proposed amendments, or it can refer the clause for further consideration.

If members are content, we shall proceed to the clause-by-clause scrutiny of the Bill. I did not ask Mr Jack whether he wished to make an introductory statement.

Mr Colin Jack (Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure):

I do not wish to make an introductory statement. I am happy to comment or take questions as the Committee considers each clause of the Bill.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 (Duty of Authority to provide library service)

The Chairperson:

This clause requires the library authority to provide a public library service for people living, working or studying in Northern Ireland. It goes on to list the specific duties of the library authority and enables the library authority to work with other bodies. It also enables the authority to provide library services to visitors.

Members have raised some issues about this clause. The Committee queried whether the performance standards for the library authority should have to be approved by the Assembly. However, after hearing the Minister’s evidence, we decided on 25 October that we were content that the Minister would monitor standards and report to the Committee. We wrote to the Minister, requesting that he include the term “comprehensive and efficient” in the clause. The Minister’s response has not yet been received. Would it be sensible to defer final consideration of this clause until we meet on 6 December?

Mr Jack:

The Minister plans to respond to the Committee on that point soon, and he is sympathetic to the point that the Committee has raised.

In respect of the finalisation of the detail of the clause, the process, as we understand it, is that the Committee will publish its report, in light of which we will take further advice from the legislative draftsmen about how to factor the considerations of the Committee into the Bill as it goes forward for Consideration Stage. I expect that the Committee will have a response from the Minister by next week’s meeting. I am not sure that we are in a position to sign off on the wording of clauses today.

The Chairperson:

We also asked the Minister to include a general phrase in clause 2 to make it the duty of the library authority to collect and protect material of regional importance. That was a point that Nelson McCausland felt strongly about. The Minister’s response was that the libraries’ stock policy, including that on reference collections, is covered by clause 2(2)(a).

Clause 2 referred for further consideration.

Clause 3 (Ancillary powers of Authority)

The Chairperson:

This clause sets out the additional powers of the authority in relation to carrying out its functions. There were concerns about whether the clause permitted the library authority to co-operate with other bodies, in particular the Linenhall Library. The Department has clarified that the clause does permit the library authority to make partnership arrangements as it sees fit. At the Committee meeting of 11 October, members agreed that we were content with that response.

Mr Shannon:

In respect of clause 3(2)(e), on the acceptance of gifts, are the gifts in question above board and documented? I want to know whether a donation is always documented.

Mr Jack:

The Department expects that the library authority would have guidance on gifts and hospitality, as any public-sector organisation would. The intention behind the provision in the Bill is primarily concerned with the acceptance of gifts of books, or collections of books. Conceivably, someone might make a donation to the library authority in order to buy new books, and the Department would expect that to be open and above board.

Mr Shannon:

I want to see a very transparent exercise.

Mr K Robinson:

Would that cover a situation whereby someone felt inspired to bequest money to a particular library?

Mr Jack:

Yes; it would cover that.

The Chairperson:

Is that understood, or will it be specified in a memorandum?

Mr Jack:

The Department understands that it does need not be specified because it covered legally by the term “gifts”.

The Chairperson:

Are members satisfied with that?

Mr K Robinson:

The reason that I raised the point — and Nelson will understand this — is that some of the schools in Belfast still receive bequest money from former linen mill owners. Although those sums are miniscule these days, a bequest could be a significant sum when it is initially made, and presumably that will carry on into the future.

Mr Jack:

We expect that there will more detail on those types of issues in the financial memorandum management statement that the library authority will be required to have.

Mr McCausland:

On occasions, in some libraries, bequests were made of books that were to be retained in perpetuity, but the library decided to sell the books. In one case, a library had to buy the books back.

Mr K Robinson:

Members will know of one site in the north of the city that has caused the board, and the authority before it, problems. Historically, that library is there for a particular reason, although it sits on a prime site.

Mr McCausland:

How the books were received by the library is not a legislative issue, but, in practice, the library should be careful about how they receive books and under what conditions.

Mr Jack:

The Bill states that the authority may accept gifts. I suppose that it is implicit in that that there could be circumstances in which the authority might decide not to accept gifts.

Mr Bradley:

I believe my question has already been answered: does the Bill allow a library to refuse gifts that would be a burden on it, rather than an advantage to it?

The Chairperson:

There could be such a gift.

Mr Jack:

Yes; that is covered by the Bill.

Mr Shannon:

Can you explain what is meant by the Bill stating that the authority may “invest money”? We always hear how tight the budget is, so I am keen to know what that means. I have asked my two party colleagues, and they do not know.

Ms Irene Armstrong (Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure):

That is a standard provision. I suspect that the authority will not be equipped to invest a public grant, but it might have a bequeathal that was worth investing. It is not something that has been thought through in detail.

Mr Shannon:

The library authority would hardly be buying stocks and shares.

Ms Armstrong:

No.

Mr Shannon:

That is what I thought. That is OK.

Mr Jack:

The Department is advised that that is a standard provision for a non-departmental public body. There might be a situation in which there has been a bequest or a donation and it might be prudent to invest for a return.

Question, That the Committee is content with the clause, put and agreed to.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 (Power of Authority to undertake commercial activities)

The Chairperson:

There was concern that this clause implied that libraries could be judged on their commercial success. The Department has clarified that libraries will not be measured according to their commercial activities and that this clause is designed to allow libraries to carry out such activities as selling local books and running coffee shops. At its meeting on 11 October 2007, the Committee agreed that it was content with that response. Having established that the Committee is content with clause 4(1), we shall proceed.

Mr McCausland:

The power to carry out those activities is given to the library authority. How does that devolve down to an individual library?

Mr Jack:

The individual library is part of the authority. The level of delegation for those activities would be a management issue for the authority. Any action of an individual library, provided it was properly authorised, would constitute an action of the authority.

Question, That the Committee is content with the clause, put and agreed to.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clause 6 (Charges for certain library services)

The Chairperson:

The explanatory and financial memorandum states that this clause retains the principle of a free public-lending library, and free access to information. Concerns have been expressed that this clause does not guarantee free core services. The Committee asked the Minister to amend the wording of this clause in line with the wording suggested by the Southern Education and Library Board. The Minister responded by explaining that not all book borrowing and information access is free, and, therefore, the Committee’s preferred wording would not reflect current practice.

The Assembly Bill Office subsequently advised the Committee that it may not be wise, or possible, to be prescriptive about free services in the legislation. The Bill Office pointed to the fact that we now have a ministerial assurance that there is no intention to introduce charging for core services. The Committee agreed with that advice, and subsequently wrote to the Minister, seeking his assurance that he would consult with the Committee before making any changes to the charging policy. The Minister gave that assurance in his letter of 27 November 2007, which has been tabled today. Therefore, we are content with the current wording of clause 6(1).

The Committee also had a concern about clause 6(2), in that it allows the Department to make different charges to different persons, or in different circumstances or localities. However, after hearing the Minister’s evidence, we agreed at the meeting held on 25 October 2007 that we were content with the clause as drafted, because the Minister intended to introduce a standardised set of charges for all libraries. We asked the Minister to clarify whether he had legislative cover to make different charges to senior citizens.

The Minister’s response was that different charges for older people are justifiable on the grounds of the policy objective of encouraging children to read, and because senior citizens may be less able to pay. The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 cover the fields of employment and vocational training in relation to colleges, but do not impact on the Libraries Bill. At our meeting of 22 November, members agreed that they were content with that response.

Question, That the Committee is content with the clause, put and agreed to.

Clause 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 (Byelaws in respect of use of library facilities)

The Chairperson:

This clause enables the library authority to make by-laws in relation to conduct in, and use of, library facilities, and enables officers of the authority to remove persons who contravene those by-laws. Contravention of the by-laws creates an offence and a summary conviction, which attracts a fine. Any by-laws that are made must be confirmed by the Department. We had no issues with clause 7.

Question, That the Committee is content with the clause, put and agreed to.

Clause 7 agreed to.

Clause 8 (Grants for or in connection with library services)

The Chairperson:

This clause enables the Department to pay grants to persons or bodies other than the library authority for the provision of certain library services. The clause also permits the library authority to make such grants in place of the Department by an Order that will be subject to negative resolution. We had no issues with clause 8.

Question, That the Committee is content with the clause, put and agreed to.

Clause 8 agreed to.

Clause 9 (Directions)

The Chairperson:

This clause enables the Department to give directions to the authority. There were no issues with clause 9.

Question, That the Committee is content with the clause, put and agreed to.

Clause 9 agreed to.

Clause 10 (Amendments and repeals)

The Chairperson:

This clause refers to the amendments and the repeals of existing legislation as set out in schedules 3 and 4. There were no issues with clause 10.

Question, That the Committee is content with the clause, put and agreed to.

Clause 10 agreed to.

Clause 11 (Interpretation)

The Chairperson:

This clause defines the terms “authority”, “the Department”, “library material”, “library premises” and “statutory provision”, as used in the Bill. There were no issues with clause 11.

Question, That the Committee is content with the clause, put and agreed to.

Clause 11 agreed to.

Clause 12 (Commencement)

The Chairperson:

This clause specifies which clauses of the Bill come into operation one month after the Bill receives Royal Assent. The other clauses come into force when the Department makes an order to that effect. We know that the Minister intends to establish the library authority on 1 April 2009.

Question, That the Committee is content with the clause, put and agreed to.

Clause 12 agreed to.

Clause 13 (Short title)

The Chairperson:

This clause simply states the title of the Bill.

McCausland:

We must change the year — it states “2007”.

The Committee Clerk:

We can assume that that will happen automatically.

The Chairperson:

That is a good legalistic approach from Nelson. We must be exact in these matters.

Mr K Robinson:

My disagreement may not concern the title; however, on page 8 of the Bill, which deals with the membership of the authority —

Mr Shannon:

We will come to that.

Mr K Robinson:

Sorry; it was just in case I lost my place during this gallop through the Bill.

The Chairperson:

We are merely dealing with the short title.

Mr D Bradley:

I wish to seek clarity on a point concerning clause 12. Will the library authority’s establishment on 1 April 2009 be synchronised with the first education Bill?

Mr Jack:

The Minister of Education is planning for the education and skills authority to come into effect from 1 April 2009, and the education Bill will be brought forward on that basis.

Mr D Bradley:

The education Bill will come in two stages. Will the first education Bill provide for a schools’ library service?

Mr Jack:

Yes.

Mr D Bradley:

Does that mean that the establishment of the library authority and the schools’ library service will be synchronised?

Mr Jack:

Yes.

Mr McCausland:

As I am not a member of the Education Committee, will you clarify for me the impact that two education Bills would have on attempts to synchronise with the Libraries Bill?

Mr D Bradley:

That is the point that I am trying to make. The section of the education and skills authority that will deal with library services will be established by the first Bill — at the same time as the library authority. If that were not the case, I would be anxious that schools might be left without a library service.

Mr McCausland:

I was thinking more about the deconstruction of the boards into two parts: libraries and education. Will that co-ordinate with the enactment of the Libraries Bill?

Mr Jack:

The first education Bill will establish the education and skills authority and will replace the education and library boards, and will therefore make provision for the schools’ library service. The second education Bill will add some additional functions to the education and skills authority.

Mr D Bradley:

The second education Bill will deal with sectoral issues.

Mr Jack:

Yes.

The Chairperson:

We must return to clause 13.

Question, That the Committee is content with the clause, put and agreed to.

Clause 13 agreed to.

Schedule 1 (The Northern Ireland Library Authority)

The Chairperson:

Members should refer to pages 8 to 12 of the Bill, and the bottom paragraph of page 4, continuing to page 5, of the memorandum.

Mr Shannon:

I propose that the membership of the authority be changed to include no more than 17 members — consisting of 9 elected members and 8 others — and that the chairperson of the authority should always be an elected member.

The Chairperson:

I have noted that. What are members’ opinions? Perhaps the Committee Clerk might suggest options?

The Committee Clerk:

We are waiting for the Minister’s response on the question of membership, and the Committee could defer its decision until next week’s meeting.

Mr Shannon:

I will seek guidance on the best way to approach that matter. Should we make the Minister aware that that is our intention, in order that he might respond accordingly? I understand that he may be sympathetic to that proposal.

The Chairperson:

We will discuss paragraph 2 of schedule 1 in a moment. Schedule 1 contains 19 paragraphs, and covers the status of the authority, the appointment of board members, the employment of staff, committee proceedings, and accounting arrangements.

Paragraph 1 states that the authority shall not be regarded as an agent of the Crown. No issues have been raised. Are Members content that paragraph 1 stand part of the Bill?

Members indicated assent.

Paragraph 2 deals with the membership of the board of the authority, the number of members and their experience. Ken Robinson, Jim Shannon and others expressed major concerns about this.

The Bill currently specifies that the board consist of seven to 14 members. The Committee wrote to the Minister and asked that he amend the clause to allow 20 members. Jim Shannon’s approach is now slightly different, and he suggests that there be 17 members, nine of whom are elected local authority members, eight others, and that the chairperson be an elected member. As the Committee has not yet received the Minister’s response, it is sensible to revisit paragraph 2 at the Committee meeting of 6 December 2007.

Mr McCausland:

If the Minister comes back to the Committee with suggestions, one of the difficulties may be that we will still not have a sense of how many local authorities there will be. That will not become clear for some months, so I see some difficulty. What is the final date on which the Committee has to reach a decision on the Bill?

Mr Jack:

We hope that the Minister will respond to the Committee’s letter in time for next week’s meeting, but we understand that the Minister is sympathetic to the general direction of the type of model that you outline. The Department is conscious that the number of local authorities has not been finalised; on that issue and others we need advice from the legislative draftsman about how the wording might accommodate different models. I expect that the Minister would want to sign up to certain principles concerning with the balance of the board and so on.

Mr McCausland:

Will the Committee next week agree only broad principles, for instance, the principle that there should be a majority from the elected sector? The fine-tuning of numbers will be impacted on by how many local authorities emerge.

Mr Jack:

It may be that some of those issues might need to be tied up in subordinate legislation when the time comes. My suspicion is that the Committee will need to make its view clear in its report on the Bill. We will take advice on how we can best meet the objectives that the Committee and the Minister want to meet.

Mr K Robinson:

The underlying problem is that there is a legacy of distrust from those of us who have served in local government on how, over the years, we have been treated by central authority, whether under direct rule or the current dispensation. That underlines our concern that representation at local level is important for any of these bodies. Since this is the first, we are establishing the principle that we want local government, in its new format, to be able to reflect the wishes of communities and geographical areas. That underlying principle causes our concern.

Mr Shannon:

It is also important that the balance is correct and that it lies towards elected representatives where decisions are concerned. A membership of 20 is a suggestion, but it is better to have an uneven number, even if that were to mean one more board member. I agree with Ken Robinson in that I see the proposed library authority as setting a trend, perhaps a precedent, of what is to come after it. Therefore, it is important that it is done correctly. If local councillors are involved, the process will have a responsible accountability, and that is no disrespect to independent members. The elected members represent the people, the community and therefore the balance of power should lie with them.

The Chairperson:

Are you prescriptive in your mind that there should be 17 board members?

Mr Shannon:

Yes, that is the number I had in my mind. A manageable committee is needed, whether there are 17 members or 19, and it is important that elected representatives make up the majority and that they always hold the chair. That means that the board would be run by members of elected status, and with accountability to the people.

The Chairperson:

Does that answer your question about the number of elected representatives, Nelson? A prescriptive figure of 17 or 19 would result in a 9-8 or a 10-9 vote.

Mr McCausland:

All of the local authorities should have some input.

Mr K Robinson:

When we discussed this matter previously we proposed that an agency might act on behalf of local authorities rather than local councils, although some of us have reservations about that.

The Chairperson:

Are we going to revisit that issue? That is the key point.

Mr McCausland:

I am quite open about the matter. I sat on the board of the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum at one time, and have served on others. I remember one individual who had been appointed to a public body who slept through most of the meetings.

Mr K Robinson:

Do not point at me. It was not me.

Mr McCausland:

It certainly was not you. It is important that we think carefully about that.

The Chairperson:

Are you saying that that person did not exercise the challenge function? He slept through the meetings?

Mr McCausland:

He did not prolong the meetings. [Laughter.]

The Chairperson:

The Committee was also concerned about the makeup of the Board. We wrote to suggest that the authority “shall be representative of the community”. That point was raised by Nelson. That wording follows the example set in Section 73(4) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, concerning the makeup of the Equality Commission. The Minister’s response has not been received, so we must defer that matter as well.

We now proceed to paragraph 3.

Mr K Robinson:

Just before you do, Chairperson, paragraph 2(2), on making appointments, states that:

“the Department shall so far as practicable secure that each member of the Authority has experience in a field of activity relevant to the discharge of the functions of the Authority.”

In a perfect world I would have no difficulty with that. However, is it not slightly exclusive, in that certain persons, who might bring a lot to a library authority, may be deemed “outside the loop”? I think particularly of someone who could almost represent the users’ interest. That person might not have experience in a relevant field of activity, but could bring something more to the authority. I do not want the authority to become too incestuous; that is my worry. During one of yesterday’s presentations in another place we got a feeling that some groups become very cosy. I do not want this group to be cosy. I want it to be able to represent the public and the best interests of the library authority.

The Chairperson:

That concern will have to be reflected in next week’s discussions.

Paragraph 3 deals with tenure of office, and details processes for the removal, resignation or reappointment of authority members. An issue has been raised about whether this paragraph should specify that the Chair can serve for a maximum of two terms. The Minister has advised that the rules of operation will be set out in detail in the management statement and financial memorandum, which is drawn up by the Department and agreed with the library authority.

The Minister also advised that the Department will draw up the terms and conditions for the appointment of the authority, which will include a maximum tenure of two terms of office for the Chair. Therefore, we have it in writing from the Minister that the Chair will serve a maximum of two terms, and at our meeting of 22 November we agreed that we were content with that. Are Members therefore content with paragraph 3, sub-paragraphs (1), (2), (3) and (4)?

Members indicated assent.

No issues were raised regarding sub-paragraph (5); are members therefore content?

Members indicated assent.

Do Members agree paragraph 3?

Members indicated assent.

Paragraph 4 concerns remuneration, and states that the Department shall determine how much library authority members will be paid. Again no issues have been expressed. Do Members agree paragraph 4?

Members indicated assent.

Paragraph 5 deals with the appointment of a chief executive and other staff. No issues were previously expressed; do members have any concerns now? Do members agree paragraph 5?

Members indicated assent.

The Chairperson:

Paragraph 6 deals with secondments from the Civil Service. There were concerns that it implies that the only secondments permitted were from the Civil Service. The Department has explained that that is not the case, and that paragraph 5(1)(b) permits the authority to have such employees as it sees fit, which could include, for example, secondments from the education side or from the Schools Library Service, as well as direct recruits. At our meeting on October 11, the Committee agreed that it was content with that clarification. Do Members agree paragraph 6(1)?

Mr McNarry:

Why do we not make clear what they have told us?

The Chairperson:

Instead of having understandings?

Mr McNarry:

Yes. There is a lot of talent out there, and people could be seconded from library boards.

Mr Jack:

Following reflection, the thinking that has emerged is that paragraph 6(1) may not be necessary in terms of seconding people from the Civil Service to the library authority, and that paragraph 5(1)(b) may be sufficient to give the authority that power. When we move to a later stage we may propose to remove paragraph 6(1). In that sense it may not be necessary to include the specification of other groups.

Mr McNarry:

If we are not going to say what we think I concur that it may be unnecessary to include it at all, Who knows what employment law could subject it to at some stage? If I am allowed to propose, I propose that it is removed.

Mr Shannon:

I second that.

Mr Jack:

We would be content if the Committee were to propose that.

Mr McCausland:

To return to paragraph 2; does that mean that, at the first meeting of the library authority, the chair would be elected from the membership?

Mr Jack:

No, we expect that the chairperson would be appointed by the Minister.

Mr McCausland:

Is it not necessary to say that?

Mr Jack:

When the legislation says “the Department” the implication is that the Minister will do that.

Mr McCausland:

Where does it say that the person who is appointed is the chair of the authority?

Mr Jack:

In paragraph 2(1):

“The Authority shall consist of —

(a) a Chair; and

(b) not fewer than 7 or more than 14 other members, appointed by the Department.”

Mr McCausland:

To take Belfast Education and Library Board as an example, 40% of the members come from the council, but were appointed by the Secretary of State. That does not mean that he chose them, they were chosen by another body, although he formally appointed them. Does paragraph 2(1) need more clarity in that respect? We are examining the issue of membership, so we can come back to that.

The Chairperson:

We can revisit that.

Mr McNarry:

I did not have the audacity to go back and pick at a point —

The Chairperson:

You would never do that.

Mr McNarry:

I am glad that Nelson did. If I picked up correctly on what was being said regarding the elected members, and the chair being an elected person, how does the Minister feel about making a political appointment? That is what it would be.

Mr Jack:

The Minister will reflect on the whole mechanism for appointing the board and the chairperson in light of the views that expressed by the Committee and others. The answer is that he will have a view on how the chair should be appointed from the membership.

Mr McNarry:

The chairperson will hold their position for two terms. Precedent will be set. It will be a political appointment no matter what way you look at it if the Minister accepts the opinion that we have offered because the chairperson will be an elected representative. For public consumption, I would advise the Minister — whoever he or she may be at that time — to tread cautiously with the political appointment of the library authority. If it is the Minister’s call, it is the Minister’s call, but it must be understood that it is a political appointment.

Mr Jack:

This will be discussed in more detail at next week’s Committee meeting, but we would expect the principle of appointment on merit, under the guidance of the office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments, to apply to the appointments. There are mechanisms by which that principle could be applied to a pool of nominees who come forward from district councils. Variations on that process would allow the chairperson to be interviewed, even if that person had been initially nominated to the process by a council. An interview process could take place that involved employment on merit.

Mr McNarry:

I will not dwell on it, but neither you nor the Bill has gone into the process of appointing board members. You make an assumption that they will be nominated. The process is not dealt with by the Bill. Clarification is needed on the process before you can take that next step.

The Chairperson:

It is our intention to revisit that paragraph at next week’s Committee meeting at Belfast Central Library.

Mr McNarry:

We just need an answer for clarification

The Chairperson:

Do members agree that paragraph 6(1) be deleted on the proposal of David McNarry, seconded by Jim Shannon?

Members indicated assent.

Do members agree paragraph 6 minus subparagraph 1?

Members indicated assent.

Paragraph 7, entitled “ Remuneration, allowances and pensions of employees”, allows the authority to pay its employees salaries, allowances and pension contributions with the approval of the Department. The Committee has not previously expressed any issues with this paragraph. Do members agree paragraph 7?

Members indicated assent.

The Committee has not previously expressed any issues with paragraph 8, entitled “ Arrangements for assistance”. Do members agree paragraph 8?

Members indicated assent.

Mr K Robinson:

Does that paragraph also include consultants?

Mr Jack:

Yes, it does.

Mr K Robinson:

I just make the point.

The Chairperson:

Paragraph 9 deals with committees and allows the library authority to establish committees, which can have members from or outside the authority. No issues have previously been expressed by the Committee on paragraph 9. Do members agree paragraph 9?

Members indicated assent.

The Chairperson:

Paragraph 10 concerns delegation to committees and staff, and allows the library authority to delegate its function to committees or to staff, and for committees to delegate their functions to staff. Again, no issues were raised.

Mr McNarry:

Is it in order to ask if officials are making us aware of anything that we are not picking up and that we should revisit? There was a view about paragraph 6, and officials agreed that subparagraph 1 should be removed. Are we agreeing to anything else that officials identify as having a question mark? Could they tell us?

Mr Jack:

Yes. There have not been any others.

Mr McNarry:

Are there likely to be?

Mr Jack:

There are some issues in schedule 3, but we have not got that far yet.

The Chairperson:

Will the information be volunteered prior to completing the section?

Mr Jack:

Yes.

The Chairperson:

I anticipate agreement regarding paragraph 10. Do Members agree paragraph 10?

Members indicated assent.

The Chairperson:

Paragraphs 11 and 12 deal with proceedings, and discuss the content of standing orders to be made by the library authority and the validity of proceedings. No issues were expressed. Do Members agree paragraphs 11 and 12?

Members indicated assent.

The Chairperson:

Paragraphs 13 and 14 concern the application of seal and documents. They are self-explanatory, and no issues have been raised. Do Members agree paragraphs 13 and 14?

Members indicated assent.

The Chairperson:

Paragraph 15 deals with premises.

Mr K Robinson:

I am happy as the long as the headquarters is not based in Omagh.

Mr Shannon:

Or Dungiven.

The Chairperson:

I will accept Strabane. Paragraph 15 permits library premises to be inspected by the Department. No issues have been expressed. Do Members agree paragraph 15?

Members indicated assent.

The Chairperson:

Paragraph 16 concerns finance and allows the Department to make payments to the library authority, and the Department to receive any money made by the authority. No issues have been expressed. Do members agree paragraph 16?

Members indicated assent.

The Chairperson:

Paragraph 17 deals with the accounts that the library authority is required to keep. No issues have previously been raised. Do Members agree paragraph 17?

Members indicated assent.

The Chairperson:

Paragraph 18, regarding the annual report, is self-explanatory. If there are no issues, do Members agree paragraph 18?

Members indicated assent.

The Chairperson:

Paragraph 19 concerns interpretation, and is straightforward. No issues have been expressed. Do Members agree paragraph 19?

Members indicated assent.

Schedule 1 referred for further consideration.

Schedule 2 (Transfer schemes)

The Chairperson:

Schedule 2 will be dealt with at our meeting on 6 December 2007, when officials from the Departmental Solicitor’s Office will be present.

Schedule 2 referred for further consideration.

Schedule 3: Amendments

Schedule 4: Repeals

The Chairperson:

Schedule 3 sets out the amendments to other legislation as a result of the Bill, and schedule 4 sets out repeals. Members have raised no issues concerning either schedule.

Mr Jack:

Since consideration of the Bill commenced, it has emerged that further amendments may be necessary to legislation within the remit of other Departments. We will identify those and bring them to the Committee for discussion as soon as we can before Consideration Stage.

Mr McNarry:

The Department should flag those up clearly to the Committee before the Consideration Stage. How soon before Consideration Stage can it do that?

Ms Armstrong:

We are working on that at the moment. I hope that that will be done before Christmas and certainly before the Committee is due to report to us.

Mr McNarry:

Thank you.

Schedules 3 and 4 referred for further consideration.

The Chairperson:

The Committee thanks Colin, Irene and Julie for sitting through the process this morning. Next week, we will revisit other aspects of it.

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