Minutes of Proceedings
Date: 13 February 2013
Venue: Room 30, Parliament Buildings
The meeting opened in public session at 2.05 p.m.
1. Chairperson’s Business
List of Invitations
The Committee noted the list of current invitations.
Irish Minister for EU Affairs
The Committee noted the draft invitation to attend a briefing from the Irish Minister for EU Affairs, Lucinda Creighton TD, which the Committee and the Assembly and Business Trust is hosting.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to send the invitation to the Chairpersons of all statutory committees. The Committee also agreed that staff should scope the possibility of a further engagement event on the afternoon of 6 March 2013.
2. Draft minutes of the meeting held on 6 February 2013
Agreed: The draft minutes of proceedings of 6 February 2013 was agreed by the Committee.
3. Matters Arising
The Committee noted a response from the Department in relation to the Committee’s request to be briefed by officials on OFMDFM’s responsibilities in relation to the Education Bill. The response advised that as amendments are likely to be brought forward, a briefing at this stage may not be appropriate. The response advised that once amendments are laid, officials would be happy to brief the Committee.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to proceed with the briefing from an official of the Department of Education at next week’s meeting. The Committee also agreed to write to the Department to request a timescale on when the Committee can be expected to be briefed by the Department.
List of Outstanding Issues
The Committee noted the list of outstanding issues.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to request a briefing on progress with the Sexual Orientation Strategy.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to request an update briefing on development of the Shackelton barracks site.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to add to its forward work programme a briefing on the extension of protection against age discrimination.
Revised Code of Practice on Equal Pay
The Committee considered correspondence from the Department advising that Ministers have approved the Equality Commission’s Revised Code of Practice on Equal Pay.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule a briefing from the Equality Commission on the revised Code of Practice.
The Committee noted an invitation from the Department to attend the launch of the Disability Strategy on 28 February 2013.
Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment
Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward correspondence from the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment to the Department on its response to the one of the recommendations in the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment’s Inquiry into Renewable Energy
5. Childcare Strategy
Representatives from Employers for Childcare joined the meeting at 2.14 p.m.
Ms Marie Marin, Chief Executive, Ms Nora Smith, Director of Policy, Information and Operations and Miss Rachel Dennison from Employers for Childcare, briefed the Committee on its response to the Department’s consultation on the draft Childcare Strategy. A question and answer session followed.
Mr Eastwood left the meeting at 3.00 p.m.
Representatives from Employers for Childcare left the meeting at 3.01 p.m.
Representatives from Early Years joined the meeting at 3.02 p.m.
Ms Siobhan Fitzpatrick, Chief Executive and Ms Pauline Walmsley, Director of Knowledge Exchange, from Early Years briefed the Committee on their response to the Department’s consultation on the draft Childcare Strategy. A question and answer session followed.
Mr Nesbitt joined the meeting at 3.12p.m.
Miss Fearon left the meeting at 3.19 p.m.
Mr Givan joined the meeting at 3.22 p.m.
Representatives from Early Years left the meeting at 3.25 p.m.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to request a briefing from Departmental officials on the “Towards a Childcare Strategy” consultation. The Committee also agreed to write to the Department to seek further information on when the Childcare Fund will be open to applications from non-departmental organisations.
Mr Nesbitt took the Chair at 3.26 p.m.
Mr Maskey left the meeting at 3.26 p.m.
Mr Lyttle left the meeting at 3.26 p.m.
6. Legislative Consent Motion – UK Antarctic Bill
The Committee considered the draft Report of its consideration of the Legislative Consent Motion in relation to the UK Antarctic Bill.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to publish the Committee’s Report on the Legislative Consent Motion.
The meeting moved into closed session at 3.28 p.m.
7. Proposals to Update Legislation to Reform the Office of the Northern Ireland Ombudsman
Mr Lyttle re-joined the meeting at 3.29 p.m.
Miss Fearon re-joined the meeting at 3.34 p.m.
Mr Maskey re-joined the meeting at 3.35 p.m.
Mr McCallister left the meeting at 3.57 p.m.
Mr Robinson left the meeting at 4.06 p.m.
Mr Givan left the meeting at 4.30 p.m.
The Committee considered responses from stakeholders to the Committee’s policy proposals in relation to reforming the office of the Ombudsman.
Agreed: The Committee agreed a number of policy issues, agreed that Members would take soundings on some outstanding issues and agreed that the Committee would request a briefing from the Ombudsman on some of the issues raised.
8. Any Other Business
The Committee noted the Forward Work Programme.
Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to seek further information on the First Minister and deputy First Minister’s request to the Secretary of State that the power of appointment to the Equality Commission and the Human Rights Commission be devolved.
9. Date, time and place of next meeting
The next meeting will be held in Room 30, Parliament Buildings on Wednesday 20 February 2013 at 2 p.m.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 5.07 p.m.