Minutes of Proceedings
Date: 26 May 2011
The meeting began at 10.32am in public session.
1. Welcome & Apologies
There were no apologies.
The Chair welcomed members to the first meeting of the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment.
Agreed: That meetings should normally be held in public session, unless there is an overriding reason for proceedings to be closed.
2. Committee membership
The Chair drew members’ attention to the composition and membership of the Committee and the need to complete the pro-forma included in the meeting packs on the receipt of committee papers.
Agreed: Content that members’ email details are sent to Hansard to enable receiving Hansard transcripts electronically.
3. Committee staff contact details
The Chair introduced the Committee Office team to the members.
Mr Daithi McKay joined the meeting at 10.40am.
4. Declaration of Interests
The Chair reminded members that under Standing Order 69(4) ‘before taking part in any debate or proceeding of the Assembly or its Committees, a member shall declare any interest, financial or otherwise, which is relevant to that debate or proceeding, where such interest is held by the Member or an immediate relative.’ Proceedings of the Assembly include meetings of the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment.
The Chair advised members that all members are required to register relevant interests in the Register of Members’ Interests and that once members have registered these interests, each committee will be provided with the specific details of each of the members.
The Chair asked members if they had any interests to declare.
No member had an interest to declare.
Powers and Operations of Statutory Committees
The Committee noted the powers and operation of Statutory Committees.
Guide to the role of the Chairperson
The Committee noted guidance on the role of chairpersons to statutory committees.
Guide to the role & functions of the Committee Office
The Committee noted guidance on the role and functions of the Committee Office.
Guidance on the role of researchers
The Committee noted guidance on the role of the Research and Information Service (RaISe).
Privilege and Sub-Judice .
Members noted the following statement made by the Chair describing the rules relating to privilege:
“Under Section 50 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, for the purposes of the law of defamation, absolute privilege applies equally to:
- The making of a statement in proceedings of the Assembly; and
- The publication of a statement under the Assembly’s authority.
The term ‘proceedings of the Assembly’ includes the work of committees. Written and oral evidence taken by committees, therefore, attracts the same privilege as any other proceeding in the Assembly. Any statement given by a witness to a committee as part of its proceedings, whether in oral or in written form, is covered by privilege.”
The Committee noted the following statement made by the Chair describing the rules relating to sub-judice:
‘Sub-judice falls under Standing Order 68 of the Standing Orders for Northern Ireland Assembly prepared by the Secretary of State in accordance with paragraph 5(4) of Schedule 1 to the Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2006. Sub-judice applies from when criminal charge (or charges) is brought, or from when notice of an appeal is lodged to the time that the verdict and sentence have been announced, or from when a civil action is listed for trial until judgement is given. In such cases, the matter awaiting adjudication should not be prejudiced by comment in a public session of a committee hearing’
6. Guidance on Assembly committees’ timescales for interaction between committees and departments
Members noted guidance from the NI Executive on timescales for interaction between committees and departments.
Members agreed to consider agenda item 9 and 10 next.
7. Subordinate Legislation: Delegation of technical scrutiny to the Examiner of Statutory Rules
The Clerk briefed members regarding the procedure for consideration of subordinate legislation.
Agreed: “That the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment resolves, under Standing Order 41 to delegate to the Examiner of Statutory Rules the technical scrutiny of statutory rules referred to the Committee under the above mentioned Standing Order.”
“The Committee further resolves that in carrying out this function the Examiner shall be authorised to report his technical findings on each statutory rule to the Assembly, through the Business Office, and to the relevant Department, as well as to the Committee itself and to publish his report.”
8. Subordinate Legislation
The Committee considered the following Statutory Rules:
SR 2011/142 The Presbyterian Mutual Society (Financial Assistance to Members) Scheme Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011
SR 2011/143 The Presbyterian Mutual Society Financial Assistance Scheme Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011
SR 2011/155 The Gas and Electricity (Internal Markets) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011
Question put and agreed: “That the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment has considered The Presbyterian Mutual Society (Financial Assistance to Members) Scheme Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011, The Presbyterian Mutual Society Financial Assistance Scheme Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011 and The Gas and Electricity (Internal Markets) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011 and, subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules’ Report, has no objection to the Rules.”
The Committee considered a proposal for subordinate legislation from DETI:
SL1 Statutory Inspection of Tourist Establishments (Notices, Certificates and Forms) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011
Agreed: That the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment has considered DETI’s proposal for subordinate legislation under the Statutory Inspection of Tourist Establishments (Notices, Certificates and Forms) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011 and has no objection to the policy implications of the proposed legislation at this stage.”
The Chair suspended the meeting at 10.55am.
The Chair resumed the meeting at 11.03am.
Members agreed to consider agenda item 7 later in the meeting and to return to agenda item 8.
9. Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment First Day brief: Oral briefing
DETI officials joined the meeting at 11.03am.
Members received an oral briefing from Arlene Foster, Minister for Enterprise,
Trade and Investment and David Thomson, Deputy Secretary, DETI on the
Department’s role, functions and key priorities. Key issues discussed included energy, priorities for growth for the economy and tourism in Northern Ireland.
Agreed: To receive details of the procurement app for mobile phones that the Minister tested at an InterTradeIreland conference.
Agreed: To receive a written briefing with an update on credit union reform in Northern Ireland.
Agreed: To receive an oral briefing from the Minister on Air Passenger Duty in the future when more information is known.
Agreed: To write to the former US economic envoy for Northern Irleand, Mr Declan Kelly to thank him for his work.
DETI officials left the meeting at 11.55am
Mr Gordon Dunne left the meeting at 11.55am
Members agreed to return to agenda item 7.
10. Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee 2007-2011 Legacy Report
Members noted the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment’s 2007-2011 Legacy Report.
11. Draft work programme
Members discussed the draft forward work programme and schedule of committee meetings.
Agreed: That the weekly meeting of the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment will be held on Thursdays at 10.30 a.m. in room 30, Parliament Buildings.
Agreed: Content with the draft work programme.
Agreed: To schedule a Committee meeting and a visit at the premises of the System Operator for Northern Ireland (SONI) on 9 June.
Agreed: To invite Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) to provide an oral briefing regarding its pension scheme at the meeting on 9 June.
Agreed: To ask the Consumer Council to provide an oral briefing on the NIE pension scheme at the meeting of 2 June.
Dr Alasdair McDonnell joined the meeting at noon.
Members noted the following items of correspondence:
I. A letter from Department to consultees on the Common Arrangements for Gas (CAG) Bill and CAG Bill Policy Consultation.
II. A letter from Age NI regarding fuel poverty.
Agreed: To forward this letter to the Committee for Social Development and inform Age NI that the Committee has done so.
III. A letter from the Fuel Poverty Coalition regarding fuel poverty.
Agreed: To forward this letter to the Committee for Social Development and inform the Fuel Poverty Coalition that the Committee has done so.
IV. A letter from Consumer Council to Stakeholders regarding its draft Corporate Plan and Equality Scheme 2011-2015.
V. A letter from Invest NI regarding its draft Communications and Access EQIA and Disability Action Plan.
VI. A DETI News Release on Labour Market Statistics.
VII. An invitation to Chair and Deputy Chair from National Museums Northern Ireland (NMNI) to ‘Titanica, the Exhibition’.
VIII. Invitations to the Chair from:
- Financial Services Authority (FSA) regarding the conference, ‘The Financial Conduct Authority’s approach to regulation’
- Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) regarding the NI Tourism Awards 2011
IX. A letter from the Consumer Council congratulating the Chair and Deputy Chair on their appointments.
X. A request to the Chair from the Northern Ireland Renewables Industry Group (NIRIG) to attend a roundtable discussion on renewable energy.
13. Any other business
The Chair advised members that the Committee Office was contacted by a television producer from the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), South Korea’s largest public broadcasting service.
Agreed: Chair and Deputy Chair to follow up on the enquiry and agreed a way forward.
Members discussed the issue of corporation tax.
14. Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting of the Committee will take place on Thursday 2 June at 10.30am, Parliament Buildings, Room 30.
The Chair adjourned the meeting at 12.10pm.
Mr Alban Maginness
Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment
2 June 2011