Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 29 March 2012

Venue: Room 30

The meeting began at 10.34am in closed session.

1. Phoenix Price Control

Chair briefed the Committee on meetings he had with both Phoenix Gas and the Utility Regulator.

Agreed: To invite the Utility Regulator and Phoenix to provide an oral briefing to the Committee.

The meeting moved into public session at 10.41am. 

2. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

3. Minutes of meeting held on 22 March 2012

Agreed:  The draft minutes of the meeting on 22 March were agreed.

4. Chairperson’s Business

Members noted the launch of a report by Lord Whitty on behalf of the Consumer Council regarding the energy issues in Northern Ireland.

Agreed: To issue a press release on behalf of the Committee welcoming the report.

The Chair informed members that the Offshore Renewable Energy Strategic Action Plan has secured Executive approval and the Department will ensure that the Committee receives a copy following its issue.

Members noted an invitation to the Chair from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to attend International Workers’ Memorial Day.

Agreed: For the Chair to attend the event.

5. Matters Arising

Members discussed statistics on the late issue of departmental papers for Committee meetings. `

Agreed: Chair to write to the Minister expressing the Committee’s concern.

6. Inquiry into Research and Development: Invest NI

Officials joined the meeting at 10.50am.

Members received an oral briefing from Carol Keery, Director, Innovation, Research and Technology and Dr Joanne Coyle, Collaborative R&D Support Service, Invest NI.

Key issues discussed included the role of Invest NI and its comprehensive support to businesses including promoting and enhancing R&D, mobilising SME and firms to collaborate in R&D and the role of Innovation Advisers.

Paul Givan joined the meeting at 11.20am.

Paul Frew left the meeting at 11.43am.

Paul Givan left the meeting at 11.43am.

Sandra Overend left the meeting at 11.45am.

Agreed: for officials to respond in writing to any further questions the Committee may have.

Officials left the meeting at 11.52am.

7. Inquiry into Research and Development: InterTradeIreland 

Officials joined the meeting at 11.54am.

Members received an oral briefing from Liam Nellis, Chief Executive, Aidan Gough, Strategy Policy Director, Dr Bernie MaGahon, Science, Technology & Innovation Manager and Dr Simon Grattan, EU Programme Co-ordinator, InterTradeIreland.

Key issues discussed included the role of InterTradeIreland in connecting businesses North and South for collaborative work, setting targets for Horizon 2020 and the innovation challenge programme.

Paul Frew returned to the meeting at 12.07pm.

Sandra Overend returned to the meeting at 12.15pm.

Paul Frew left the meeting 12.27pm.

Agreed: for officials to respond in writing to any further questions the Committee may have.

Officials left the meeting at 12.39pm.

Agreed: to forward the additional questions on the Inquiry to the Department for a response by 18th April.

8. NI 2012 and Marketing Campaigns; Visitor Information Plan and NI Tourism Quality Strategy

Members discussed the written briefing.

Agreed: To request an update on the progress of the Tourism Strategy from the Department.

9. Update on the Onshore Renewable Electricity Action Plan and Associated Strategic Environmental Assessment

Members discussed the written briefing.

Agreed: To receive a copy of the Departmental response to the consultation when it becomes available.

10. Correspondence

Members noted the following items of correspondence:

i. Letter from the Minister on energy vires Cost Benefit Analysis and Sustainable Energy Action Plan.

Agreed: To consider the Business Case for Sustainable Energy Vires after Easter recess.

ii. Letter from the Minister to Paul Frew MLA as Chair of the Agriculture Committee, on the food sector trade mission to China.

iii. Letter from the Minister to the Chair regarding the Carriage of Dangerous Goods: Approved Derogations and Transitional Provisions.

iv. Invitation to committee members from the Minister to an event in the Long Gallery on 2nd May regarding Mobile Operators’ Association: Rural Mobile Coverage. 

Agreed: Contact Committee Office.

v. Letter from the Minister to the Chair regarding Consumer Protection legislation.

vi. Letter from Experience Belfast regarding preservation work on the Thompson Graving Dock.

vii. Response from the Department to the Committee for Social Development on the Cathedral Quarter Steering Group.

viii. Correspondence from the Committee for Social Development on the Green New Deal.

ix. Correspondence from the Committee for Finance and Personnel including the Explanatory Memorandum on the consultation on the EU Commission’s proposal for a Regulation on a Common European Sales Law.

x. Correspondence from the Committee for Justice in relation to the draft Community Safety Strategy.

Agreed: To forward to the Department for comment in relation to working with the business community, business improvement districts and ensuring that businesses are safe.

xi. A letter from Invest NI regarding Invest NI Policy and Programme Screenings.

xii. A letter from Ofcom to the Chair regarding its proposals for securing a financially sustainable universal postal service.

11. Any other business

Members discussed an invitation from the EU Committee of the Regions to participate in a survey on EU local and Regional Authorities on SME-Friendly Regions and Cities.

Agreed: to forward to CBI, Institute of Directors, Federation of Small Businesses and Manufacturing Northern Ireland for their views prior to completing a Committee response for consideration on 19th April.

12. Date, time and place of next meeting 

The next meeting of the Committee will take place on Thursday 19 April at 10.30am, Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

The Chair adjourned the meeting at 12.44pm.

Mr Alban Maginness
Chair, Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment
19 April 2012

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