Minutes of Proceedings
Session: Session currently unavailable
Date: 18 March 2021
Meeting Venue: Meeting via Microsoft Teams
Meeting date: Thursday 18 March 2021
Meeting Time: 4.00 pm
Assembly Commission Members:
Mr Keith Buchanan MLA
Mr John O’Dowd MLA
Mrs Dolores Kelly MLA
Mr Robbie Butler MLA
Mr John Blair MLA
Mrs Lesley Hogg, Clerk/Chief Executive
Ms Tara Caul, Director of Legal, Governance and Research Services Dr Gareth McGrath, Director of Parliamentary Services
Mr Richard Stewart, Director of Corporate Services
Mr Robin Ramsey, Adviser to the Speaker/Head of Corporate Support Mrs Janet Hughes, Clerical Supervisor
Others in attendance:
Mr Simon Burrowes, Head of Official Report and Public Engagement (Item 7)
Mr James Stewart, Education Officer (Item 7)
Mrs Lucy McClelland, Education Officer (Item 7)
The meeting commenced at 4.35 pm.
There were no apologies.
2. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
3. CHAIRPERSON’S BUSINESS
There was no Chairperson’s business.
4. MATTERS ARISING
There were no matters arising.
Members noted 3 items of correspondence, all of which related to the two issues on the agenda for the meeting, as follows:
A letter dated 19 February 2021 from the Chair of the Committee for the Executive Office regarding an update on the Youth Assembly and the Speaker’s response dated 4 March 2021.
A letter dated 4 March 2021 from the Chair of the Committee for the Executive Office regarding commencement of Part 3 of the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman Act (Northern Ireland) 2016.
6. CONSIDERATION OF COMMENCEMENT OF PART 3 OF THE PUBLIC SERVICES OMBUDSMAN ACT (NORTHERN IRELAND) 2016 – COMPLAINTS STANDARDS AUTHORITY ROLE FOR THE NORTHERN IRELAND PUBLIC SERVICES OMBUDSMAN (OMBUDSMAN)
Robin Ramsey noted that Members had met with the Ombudsman on 17 February 2021 following her request for the Assembly Commission to commence Part 3 of the Public Services Ombudsman Act (Northern Ireland) 2016.
It was noted that at this meeting the Ombudsman had provided Members with a comprehensive draft strategy in relation to the Ombudsman’s preparations for the Complaints Standards Authority Role.
Mr Ramsey stated that the Committee for the Executive Office and the Audit Committee had both expressed support for Part 3 of the 2016 Act to be commenced and there did not appear to be any reason for the Commission not to proceed.
Members were content for the statutory rule to be laid to commence Part 3 of the 2016 Act. Members were also content for the Committee for the Executive Office to be approached in relation to the requirement in the 2016 Act for the first statement of principles concerning complaint handling procedures developed by the Ombudsman to be approved by a resolution of the Assembly.
It was agreed that Assembly Commission officials would liaise with the Ombudsman in relation to an appropriate date for commencement of Part 3 of the 2016 Act and make arrangements to lay the statutory rule.
Action: Speaker to write to the Committee for the Executive Office in relation to taking forward the resolution which is required by the 2016 Act for the Assembly to approve the first statement of principles.
Action: Assembly Commission officials to liaise with the Ombudsman in relation to an appropriate date for commencement of Part 3 of the 2016 Act.
Action: Assembly Commission officials to make arrangements to lay the statutory rule to commence Part 3 of the 2016 Act.
Simon Burrowes, James Stewart and Lucy McClelland joined the meeting at 4.42 pm for agenda item 7.
7. UPDATE ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF A YOUTH ASSEMBLY
Simon Burrowes noted that a number of papers had been presented to the Assembly Commission since 2018 in relation to the establishment of a Youth Assembly, the most recent being in May 2020 when the Assembly Commission agreed to proceed with an Assembly Commission-supported but youth-led Youth Assembly.
Mr Burrowes provided Members with an update regarding the work undertaken to develop the Youth Assembly since it was formally announced by the Speaker and Members in July 2020.
Mr Burrowes outlined that there had been extensive engagement with stakeholders; that a Co-Design Panel of young people had been established to support the development of proposals for the process of recruiting members to the Youth Assembly; and that an Advisory Group, chaired by the Speaker, had been established to provide advice and guidance from the youth sector and other relevant stakeholders in relation to the establishment, implementation and review of the operation of the Youth Assembly during its pioneer phase.
Mr Burrowes advised Members that the Co-Design Panel had met in December 2020 and January 2021 to discuss recruitment to the Youth Assembly and referred Members to a report of its findings. It was noted that the Co-Design Panel was in favour of a ‘random selection’ approach to the selection of members for the Youth Assembly.
Mr Burrowes advised that, based on the Co-Design Panel’s findings, the Assembly Commission’s Youth Assembly Team had developed a proposal for a detailed recruitment process using a system of ‘enhanced random selection’, which had been overwhelmingly endorsed by the Advisory Group at its meeting on 3 March 2021.
James Stewart then provided Members with a presentation setting out the proposed methodology for the appointment of the 90 members of the Youth Assembly and sought approval for it as set out in the paper.
The Speaker commended officials for all their work in the development of the Youth Assembly and stated that the aim was to have the first sitting of the Youth Assembly before the Assembly’s summer recess.
Members congratulated officials on the comprehensive paper and presentation. Members sought clarification on some points of detail but generally welcomed the proposed process of enhanced random selection for the recruitment of Members of the Youth Assembly.
Members requested more time to consider the proposed recruitment process.
Keith Buchanan MLA left the meeting at 5.12 pm.
It was agreed that Members would advise the Speaker of their position by 23 March 2021.
Simon Burrowes, James Stewart and Lucy McClelland left the meeting at 5.25 pm.
There was no other business.
9. DATE OF NEXT MEETING
Officials to liaise with Members to agree a date for the next Assembly Commission meeting.
The meeting ended at 5.26 pm.