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Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2000/2001

Date: 11 May 2001

Venue: Room 135

The Chairperson called the meeting to order in private session at 2.23pm.

1. Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers' Association Dispute.

1.1 Members discussed the circumstances pertaining to the loss of quorum at the meeting on 4 May 2001 and the Committee's view in relation to representation to the Committee.

Mr Douglas and Mr Savage attended the meeting at 2.34pm.

1.2 Motion:

"That this Committee should invite members of NIAPA, who were due to give evidence on 4 May 2001, to return to give oral evidence in relation to the Committee's Inquiry into certain aspects of the Livestock and Meat Commission."

[F Molloy]

1.3 Amendment:

Delete all after 'this Committee' and insert: ", in view of the Minister's statement of 3 May 2001 about relations with NIAPA, should not invite any NIAPA representatives to meet with the Committee while the NIAPA internal dispute continues."

[G Kane]

1.4 Members deliberated, and voted on the amendment by a show of hands. The result was five for the amendment and two against and the amendment was therefore carried.

1.5 After further deliberation, members voted on the motion, as amended, by a show of hands. The result was five for the motion and two against. The motion, as amended, was therefore carried.

Resolved: that the Chairperson will write to inform the Minister of the Committee's motion, and asking her to delay making decisions on appointment of NIAPA members to Departmental Boards until June 2001, when the Committee understands NIAPA will have the opportunity to resolve its dispute at an Annual General Meeting.

Resolved: that the Chairperson will write to NIAPA to inform them of the Committee's motion and requesting that they seek an early resolution to their internal dispute.

2. General Committee Business.

2.1 The Chairperson explained the reason for his absence on 4 May 2001, and the background to the change of time of today's meeting to 2.15pm. Members noted that Messrs Dallat and Ford had indicated their availability for a morning meeting.

The Chairperson declared the meeting open to the public at 2.50pm.

3. Foot and Mouth Disease Updates.

3.1 The Chairperson reported that the Minister had given him a verbal update and he had agreed to the Minister's non-attendance in the light of her proposed statement to the Assembly on Monday 14 May 2001. The Minister's Private Secretary had also written to propose a written update for the meeting on 18 May 2001, with an update in person at the Committee's meeting on 25 May 2001. Members deliberated.

Resolved: that the proposals for updates by the Minister were accepted.

4. Minutes of Proceedings on 4 May 2001.

4.1 Resolved: that the draft Minutes of Proceedings for 4 May 2001 were approved.

5. Legislation.

5.1 Seed Potatoes Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001. The Committee considered the Seed Potatoes Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001.

Resolved: that the Committee has no objections to the Rule.

5.2 Lobster (Conservation of Stocks) (Revocation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001. The Committee considered the Lobster (Conservation of Stocks) (Revocation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001.

Resolved: that the Committee has no objections to the Rule.

5.3 Implementation of EU-Wide Feed Controls - draft regulation. Members considered the results of DARD consultation on proposals, and considered their response.

Resolved: that the Clerk will write to DARD as agreed, also seeking information about the cost implications for farmers.

5.4 Seed Potatoes (Fees) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001, and Marketing of Potatoes (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001 - pre-drafting consultation on proposals. Members considered proposals for the Seed Potatoes (Fees) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001, and Marketing of Potatoes (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001, and the Department's intention to consult.

Resolved: that the clerk will write to DARD conveying the Committee's disagreement with such measures that increase costs for the farmer; seeking details of average costs to the individual farmers and of the options explored to avoid increases.

5.5 Bovines and Bovine Products (Trade)(Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001 - proposal. Members considered a proposal for the Bovines and Bovine Products (Trade)(Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001.

Resolved: that the Committee is content for DARD to proceed to make the Rule.

5.6 Departments (Transfer of Functions) Order - proposal. Members considered a proposal by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister for the Departments (Transfer of Functions) Order.

5.7 Resolved: that the Clerk will write to DARD to seek urgent clarification of the current DARD-related functions and the implications of their proposed transfer.

5.8 The Sea Fishing (Enforcement of Community Quota and Third Country Fishing Measures) Order 2001. Members noted this Order, which falls outside the remit of the Assembly.

6. Inquiry into Certain Aspects of the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) - Evidence Session with the National Beef Association (NBA).

6.1 The Chairperson welcomed NBA Northern Ireland Council representatives Messrs Harry Marquess (Chairman), John Carson and Tom O'Brien (Vice-Chairmen) and invited Mr Marquess to speak.

6.2 Mr Marquess's opening statement was followed by a question and answer session between members and the NBA delegation.

The Chairperson left the meeting at 3.34pm and the Deputy Chairperson took the Chair. Mr Paisley Jnr left the meeting at 3.37pm. The Chairperson returned to the meeting and resumed the Chair at 4.06pm.

6.3 The Chairperson thanked the NBA representatives, explained that the Committee would write with further questions, and the delegation left the meeting at 4.15pm.

6.4 Resolved: that the Committee would write to the NBA with further questions.

7. Inquiry into Certain Aspects of the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) - Evidence Session with the National Sheep Association (NSA).

7.1 The Chairperson welcomed NSA Northern Ireland Region representatives Messrs Ian Gibson (N I Region Chairman), Edward Adamson (Secretary) and Samuel Wharry (Treasurer) at 4.17pm.

7.2 Mr Adamson's opening statement was followed by a questions and answer session between members and the NSA representatives.

7.3 The NSA representatives also took the opportunity to raise welfare concerns in relation to sheep shearing, as a consequence of the current Foot and Mouth Disease restrictions on animal movements.

7.4 The Chairperson thanked the NSA representatives, explained that the Committee would write with further questions, and the delegation left the meeting at 5.07pm.

Resolved: that the Committee would write to the NSA with further questions.

Resolved: that members could take up the matter of sheep shearing problems with the Minister after her statement in the Assembly on Monday 14 May 2001 on the Foot and Mouth Disease situation.

8. Legislation - continued.

8.1 Consumer Protection (Northern Ireland) Order 1987 (Product Liability) (Modification) Bill. Members deliberated on this Bill, which is to be considered by the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Industry who have asked for comments.

Resolved: that the Clerk will write to DARD seeking urgent views on the Bill, including cost implications; the ramifications of a successful claim against a farmer; and the need to make farmers aware of the Bill's provisions. The Clerk should also write to the ETI Committee to seek additional time for the Committee to respond.

8.2 Proposed Bill to Ban Fur Farming in Northern Ireland. Members noted DARD proposals for this Bill.

Resolved: that the Committee had no objections in principle to the Bill but that DARD will be asked to inform the Committee of the results of their consultation on the proposed Bill.

8.3 Feeding Stuffs (Sampling and Analysis)(Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001; Medicines (Veterinary Drugs)(Prescription Only) Order 2001; and Medicines (Products for Animal Use - Fees)(Amendment) Regulations 2001. Members noted these Rules, which are agriculture-related and being dealt with by the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety.

8.4 Statutory Rules - Examiner's Report. Members noted the comments in a report from the Examiner of Statutory Rules on the Lobster (Conservation of Stocks) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001, the Milk and Milk Products (Pupils in Educational Establishments) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001, and the Extensification Payments Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001, that the Committee had considered earlier.

9. Matters Arising from the Minutes of Proceedings on 27 April 2001.

9.1 Correspondence: Members noted follow-up letters to the Minister and the Livestock and Meat Commission, and the response to the Chairman of the Regional Development Committee (Titanic Quarter Leases Inquiry).

9.2 Fisheries Decommissioning Scheme. Members noted that DARD's legal advice in relation to 'track record', which the Minister, at an earlier meeting, had agreed to provide, had not been received.

9.3 Resolved: that the Chairperson will write to DARD on behalf of the Committee seeking a copy of the relevant legal advice.

9.4 Departmental Bids: 2002/2003 Financial Year. Members noted correspondence between the Minister of Finance and Personnel and the Chairperson of the Committee for Finance and Personnel about budgeting timescales and in-year monitoring, indicating that the Minister of Finance and Personnel is to provide further information. Members also noted that Mr Durkan is to make a statement to the Assembly on budget timetables in week commencing 28 May 2001.

9.5 Resolved: that the Committee will await further information.

10. Matters Arising from the Minutes of Proceedings on 4 May 2001.

10.1 Correspondence. Members noted a follow-up letter to the Northern Ireland Meat Exporters' Association with further questions related to the Committee's Inquiry into certain aspects of the Livestock and Meat Commission.

11. Committee for Social Development Inquiry into Urban Regeneration and Community Development.

11.1 Members considered the request, with a copy of the terms of reference, from the Chairperson of the Social Development Committee for any relevant input to their Inquiry. The Chairperson, Dr Paisley, had agreed that relevant material obtained in this Committee's Rural Development Programme Inquiry can be shared with the Committee for Social Development.

11.2 Resolved: that the Committee will write to the Chairperson of the Committee for Social Development asking to be informed of any findings in their Inquiry that are related to rural matters.

12. Any Other Business.

12.1 Presentation on the Social Economy on 15 May 2001. Members noted the invitation and had already indicated to Committee staff their intentions regarding attendance.

12.2 Department of Finance and Personnel Memorandum on the 3rd Report from the Public Accounts Committee Session 2000/2001. Members noted the DARD responses to the relevant PAC conclusions.

12.3 Letter from Prime Minister in relation to the payment of Lights Dues. Members noted the Prime Minister's response to the Chairperson's letter of 20 March 2001, and were concerned about apparently contradictory information.

Resolved: that the Clerk will send a copy the Prime Minister's letter to the fishermen's organisations seeking their comments.

12.4 Wilton Park Conference on Agriculture in Europe. Members noted the invitation to this event to be held 4-6 June 2001.

12.5 WWF 'Nature of Rural Development' press release. Members noted the WWF Press Release, which had been sent to the Committee, with an attached report relating to the need for CAP reform, for information.

12.6 Committee on Procedures Review of the Legislative Process in the Northern Ireland Assembly. The Committee on Procedures has requested completion of a questionnaire about consultation/scrutiny prior to the introduction of Bills in the Assembly. Members noted that the Committee had not been consulted prior to the introduction of the Dogs (Amendments) Bill and the Fisheries (Amendment) Bill in the Assembly, but has been consulted on proposals for the Foyle and Carlingford Fisheries Bill, and the proposed Bill to ban fur farming.

12.7 Resolved: that the Clerks will respond accordingly, on behalf of the Committee, to the Committee on Procedures.

12.8 LMC Inquiry Submission. A submission from an individual farmer in relation to the Committee's Inquiry into certain aspects of the Livestock and Meat Commission was distributed to members, who were advised by the Clerk that all evidence in relation to that Inquiry has now been provided to members.

13. Committee Forward Planning.

13.1 At the Chairperson's invitation, the Clerk outlined forthcoming business. Members deliberated and agreed arrangements in the light of constituency obligations in the run-up to the forthcoming elections.

Resolved: that the Committee will hear evidence on 25 May 2001 from the Minister and from the Rural Development Council in relation to the Inquiry into the Department's Rural Development Programme. No other oral evidence would be heard, unless consideration of evidence led the Committee to call for further witnesses.

Resolved: that, in the light of the Committee's decision on 27 April 2001 not to meet on 1st and 8th June 2001, the Clerks will liaise with members in relation to discharge of further business prior to summer recess. Members noted a number of items for which scheduling awaited DARD's response to the Clerk's letter of 19 April 2001.

Resolved: that the Committee will discuss the European Commission's Green Paper on the 2002 Review of the Common Fisheries Policy at the meeting on 25 May 2001 and will include in discussions with the Minister on that date.

Resolved: that the Committee would seek comments from the two fish producers' organisations, and ask for the Minister's position on the Green Paper.

14. Date of Next Meeting.

14.1 Resolved: that the next meeting will take place on Friday 18 May at 10.30am in Room 135, Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson brought the meeting to a close at 5.46pm.

George Savage
Deputy Chairperson

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