16th February 2022

20220216 Draft Minutes.pdf (156.85 kb)

Committee for the Economy

Minutes of Proceedings

16th February 2022

Meeting Location: Room 30


In Attendance:      

Dr Caoímhe Archibald (MLA (Chairperson)

Mr Matthew O’Toole MLA

Mr Stewart Dickson MLA

Mr Mike Nesbitt MLA

Mr John O’Dowd MLA       

Mr Stephen Dunne MLA

Mr Peter Weir MLA  

Mr Keith Buchanan MLA


In Attendance by Video or Teleconference:



Ms Claire Sugden MLA


In Attendance:      

Mr Peter Hall (Assembly Clerk)

Mr Thomas Armstrong (Assistant Assembly Clerk)

Mr Aaron Pakenham (Clerical Officer)      


In Attendance by Video or Teleconference: 

Ms Sinead Kelly (Assistant Assembly Clerk)

Mr Michael Greer (Clerical Supervisor)


The meeting commenced at 10:05am in open session.


 1.     Apologies


As above.


 2.     Draft Minutes


Agreed: The Committee agreed the Minutes from 9th February 2022.


 3.     Chairperson’s Business


Noted: Members noted an oral statement from the Minister of Finance providing an update on Budgetary Matters.


Agreed: Members noted correspondence from the Economy and Finance Ministers regarding European Social Fund match funding and agreed to write to the Department to seek clarity in relation to match funding for community groups.


Noted: Members noted the slides from Hydrogen NI following the informal meeting on 10th February.


Noted: Members noted the new date for the postponed Inter-Parliamentary Forum on Brexit which the Committee previously agreed would be attended by the Chair.


 4.     Department and Fibrus Briefing – Project Stratum   


Members received a briefing from:


  • Jeremy Gardner            Director – Telecoms and Tourism, DfE


  • Nigel Robbins                Project Director, DfE


  • Trevor Forsythe            Project Manager, DfE


  • Conal Henry                  Chairman, Fibrus


  • Dominic Kearns            Chief Executive, Fibrus


  • Shane Haslem              Programme Director – Project Stratum, Fibrus


Issues discussed included: the progress of the project and roll-out to new customers; levels of customer satisfaction; ongoing monitoring; project funding; environmental impact and value for money.



The witness left the meeting at 11.33am.  



5.     Employment (Zero Hours Workers and Banded Weekly Working Hours) Bill


Members heard oral evidence from:


  • Kevin Doherty               Union Services Officer, NIC - ICTU
  • Patricia McKeown         NIC-ICTU Member, UNISON
  • Paul MacFlynn              Co-Director, Nevin Economic Research Institute


Issues discussed included: support for the general principles of the Bill; the impact of similar legislation in the Republic of Ireland; the prevalence and use of zero hour contracts; potential loopholes and the practical outworking of the Bill.

Agreed: Members agreed to follow up with the Bill Sponsor in relation to Clause 14 and the potential loophole in relation to banded hours including whether any legal advice has been sought.


6.     RaISe Briefing – Company Law Common Frameworks


Members received a briefing from:


  • Aidan Stennett              Research Officer, RaISe


The briefing covered: a general overview of the background and need for Common Frameworks; the principles underpinning the Common Frameworks; and the impact of other legislation such as the Internal Market Act.

Agreed: Members agreed to respond to the Department highlighting the scrutiny points set out in the RaISe paper and drawing on the issues raised by the Common Frameworks Scrutiny Committee.


7.     Matters Arising


Members agreed to deal with Agenda item 7 via correspondence due to time constraints.


 8.     Onshore Fracking (Prohibition) Bill


Members noted that the Committee has invited the Bill Proposer, Aine Murphy MLA and an expert from Geological Survey NI to discuss the Bill and its objectives. A paper has also been requested from RaISe.


Agreed: Members agreed that, due to the significant time constraints, it could not proceed with a survey or consultation on the Bill and the Committee would therefore reserve its position on the Bill.


 9.     SL1 - Education (Student Support, etc.) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2022


Members considered the SL1 – Education (Student Support, etc.) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2022.


Agreed: The Committee agreed it was content with the policy intent of the SL1, and agreed to write to the Department regarding the level of funding and access to the Student Hardship Fund.



10. Correspondence


Members agreed to deal with Agenda item 10 via correspondence due to time constraints.



11. Any Other Business


There were no items of business.



12. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting


The next meeting of the Committee will take place on Wednesday 23rd February 2022 in Room 30, Parliament Buildings at 10am.


The meeting was adjourned at 12.56pm.




Dr Caoímhe Archibald MLA

Chairperson, Committee for the Economy

23rd February 2022   


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