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Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2000/2001

Date: 25 May 2001

Venue: Room 135

The Chairperson called the meeting to order in private session at 9.51am.

1. General Committee Business.

1.1 The Chairperson explained arrangements regarding agenda matters, including arrangements agreed by the Deputy Chairperson in relation to the Minister's attendance.

The Chairperson declared the meeting open to the public at 9.54am.

2. Minutes of Proceedings on 18 May 2001.

2.1 Resolved: that the draft Minutes of Proceedings for 18 May 2001 were approved, subject to the insertion of the words "Committee and" after the word "prior" at paragraph 1.1.

3. Matters arising from the Minutes of Proceedings on 18 May 2001.

3.1 Correspondence: Members noted letters - from the Minister on arrangements for the meeting on 25 May 2001; from the Chairperson of the Committee for Finance and Personnel to Minister of Finance and Personnel; to the Minister about future Foot and Mouth updates; to DARD in response to consultation on IACS appeals mechanism proposals; to the Minister for Social Development about benefits briefing; to the Rural Community Network; to the Committee for Finance and Personnel; to OFMDFM; and a proposed future work programme timetable for the Committee up to summer recess.

3.2 Committee Inquiry into certain aspects of the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC): The Committee discussed publication of the Minutes of Evidence for the LMC Inquiry on the Assembly website.

Resolved: that the Minutes of Evidence for the LMC Inquiry be printed and published on the Assembly website, when all amendments have been made.

3.3 Proposed Transfer of Functions to the OFMDFM: Members noted a letter from the Committee of the Centre containing responses to questions put by Assembly Committees on the proposed Transfer of Functions to the OFMDFM.

3.4 DARD policy review of the Northern Ireland Potato Sector: Members noted a list of Potato Industry Organisations they may wish to consult in relation to this review.

Resolved: that the Committee would seek an interim report from DARD on the review consultations, including details of those consulted, and decide at that time whether Committee consultation with the industry would be appropriate.

4. Green Paper on the 2002 Review of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

4.1 The Chairperson welcomed Mr Kevin Pelan from the Assembly Research Department to the meeting at 10.12am.

Mr Savage attended the meeting at 10.18am. The Chairperson left the meeting at 10.19am and the Deputy Chairperson assumed the Chair. The Chairperson returned to the meeting at 10.21am and resumed the Chair.

4.2 Mr Pelan briefed members on the papers that had been provided to them in relation to the review of the CFP and also identified various topics members might wish to raise with the official from the Department.

4.3 The Chairperson thanked Mr Pelan and brought the session to a conclusion at 10.26am.

5. Inquiry into the Rural Development Programme. Evidence session with the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development.

5.1 The Chairperson welcomed the Minister and DARD officials Mr Gerry McWhinney and Mr Alan Morton to the meeting at 10.32am.

5.2 The Minister's opening statement was followed by a question and answer session between the members, Minister and the officials.

5.3 The Chairperson thanked the Minister and her officials; explained that the Committee would write with further questions; and the officials left the meeting at 11.10am.

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

6. Update on the Foot and Mouth Disease situation.

6.1 The Minister was joined at the table by Dr Bob McCracken (Chief Veterinary Officer) and Mr Pat Toal (Deputy Secretary) at 11.13am.

6.2 The Minister made a short statement bringing members up to date with the current situation, and answered their subsequent questions.

The Chairperson left the meeting at 11.27am and the Deputy Chairperson assumed the Chair.
Mr Dallat left the meeting at 11.38am.

6.3 The Deputy Chairperson thanked the Minister and her officials and they left at 11.43am.

Mr Armstrong left the meeting at 11.43am.

7. Green Paper on the 2002 Review of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and other Fisheries Matters.

7.1 The Deputy Chairperson welcomed DARD official Mrs Evelyn Cummins to the meeting at 11.46am.

7.2 Mrs Cummins answered questions on the proposed fishing vessels decommissioning scheme; nephrop quota reduction; and the effects of the recovery plan closures.

Mr Dallat returned to the meeting at 11.55am. Mr Bradley left the meeting at 11.59am.

7.3 Mrs Cummins then made a statement on the Green Paper and DARD's position at present, and answered questions from members.

Mr Bradley returned to the meeting at 12.12pm.

7.4 The Deputy Chairperson thanked Mrs Cummins, who left the meeting at 12.24pm.

Mr Bradley left the meeting at 12.26pm and Mr Dallat left the meeting at 12.27pm. A quorum was consequently lost and the Deputy Chairperson suspended the formal meeting at 12.26pm. The Deputy Chairperson resumed the meeting at 12.51pm in formal public session with Messrs Douglas, Ford, Kane and McHugh present.

8. Statutory Rules.

8.1 Import and Export Restrictions (Foot and Mouth Disease) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001. The Deputy Chairperson welcomed DARD official Mr Wesley Shannon (Grade 7) and Mr Jonathan Guy (Divisional Veterinary Officer) who were questioned in relation to the handling and content of this Rule and related matters.

Mr Dallat returned to the meeting at 12.53pm.

8.2 Resolved: that the Committee had no objections to the Rule.

8.3 The Deputy Chairperson thanked the DARD officials, who left the meeting at 1.14pm.

9. General Committee Business.

9.1 Members expressed concern about the holding of Committee meetings on Fridays, as they felt that Friday should be reserved for constituency business.

9.2 Resolved: that the Clerk will determine the availability of suitable rooms on other weekdays and advise the Committee.

Mr Dallat left the meeting at 1.34pm. The Deputy Chairperson declared the meeting to be in private session at 1.35pm for a briefing by the Clerk. The Deputy Chairperson declared the meeting open to the public at 1.38pm.

10. Committee Inquiry into the Rural Development Programme - Rural Development Council (RDC) evidence session.

10.1 Messrs Douglas, Kane and McHugh made declarations of interest.

10.2 The Deputy Chairperson welcomed representatives of the Rural Development Council, Mrs Joanna McVey (Chairperson), Mr Martin McDonald (Chief Executive), Ms Catherine Taggart (Director of Operations) and Mr Shaun Henry (Director of Programmes), to the meeting at 1.38pm.

10.3 Following an introduction by Mrs McVey, Mr McDonald made an opening statement, referring to the Council's written submission.

Mr Dallat returned to the meeting at 1.55pm.

10.4 The RDC delegation then answered questions from members and, after being thanked by the Deputy Chairperson and advised that the Committee may write with further questions, they left the meeting at 2.32pm.

11. Green Paper on the 2002 Review of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) - continued.

11.1 Members considered and agreed the Committee response to the Department on the Green Paper.

Mr Dallat left the meeting at 2.42pm.

12. Statutory Rules - continued.

12.1 The Seed Potatoes (Fees) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001 and the Marketing of Potatoes (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001.

12.2 During the period without quorum, members present had, from 12.28pm - 12.44pm, held informal discussions on the cost implications of these Rules with DARD officials Mr Liam McKibben and Mrs Colette McMaster. Members were briefed on those matters and the context in which the Rules were being made. Members deliberated.

12.3 Resolved: that the Chairperson would write to the Minister to say that the Committee could not support any proposed increase in costs to farmers at the present time, and to recommend that the Department should absorb any increased inspection costs from within its own resources.

13. Date of Next Meeting.

13.1 Resolved: that the next meeting will take place on Friday 15 June 2001 in Room 135, Parliament Buildings, at 10.00am.

The Deputy Chairperson brought the meeting to a close at 2.54pm.

Ian R K Paisley
Chairperson

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