Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: 04 October 2012

Venue: Room 29, Parliament Buildings

The meeting began in public session at 10:09am.

At 10:09am Mr Michael Copeland declared an interest in accordance with the register         of interests. 

1. Apologies

Apologies were as indicated above.

2. Draft Minutes of Meeting 27 September 2012         

Agreed:  The minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 27 September 2012 were agreed.

3. Chairperson’s Business

3.1     The Deputy Chairperson welcomed back Gregory Campbell and Sammy Douglas to the Committee and thanked Alex Easton and Alistair Ross for their contribution to the Committee.

3.2     The Deputy Chairperson advised Members that the Chairperson gave a key note address at an event on collaboration for social change on 2 October 2012.

3.3     The Deputy Chairperson raised the issue of the Committee’s visit to Scotland on 16 and 17 October given the time frame for the Committee Stage of the Welfare Reform Bill.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to return to this issue after the Business Improvement Districts briefing.

At 10:14am, Mr Alex Maskey joined the meeting and replaced Mickey Brady as Chairperson

Ms Judith Cochrane joined the meeting at 10:16am

Mr Mark H Durkan joined the meeting at 10:18am

4. Matters Arising

The Chairperson advised Members that Research and Library Services are receiving external requests for the paper on mapping poverty and social deprivation.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to publish the paper on its website.

5. Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) – Briefing by the NI Retail Consortium (NIRC)

The following representative from the NIRC joined the meeting at 10:22am:

Mr Aodhán Connolly, Director NIRC

Mr Connolly briefed the Committee on the Business Improvement Districts Bill.  This was followed by a question and answer session.

The briefing was recorded by Hansard.           

The Chairperson thanked Mr Connolly for his attendance.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to write to NIRC and ask for the following:

  • given that the BIDs levy is based on the rateable value, what will happen if the rateable values are changed in the near future;
  • confirmation whether the Irish BIDs framework is similar to that in the UK;
  • examples of BIDs that worked well in areas where there is a high rate of charity shops and a high vacancy rate;
  • an objective assessment of UK towns comparable in size to towns in Northern Ireland where BIDs have worked and where they have been no BIDs in place;
  • confirmation on the number of town centre BIDs in UK and Ireland; and
  • examples of where BIDS have not succeeded and why.

The Committee returned to its discussion on the scheduled visit to Scotland.

Mr Aodhán Connolly left the meeting at 11:19am

Mr Fra McCann left the meeting at 11:19am

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to cancel the visit to Scotland on 16 and 17 October.

6. Harrington Review – Departmental Briefing

The Chairperson welcomed the following Departmental officials at 10:22am:

Mr Brian Doherty, DSD; and

Ms Cathy Duff, DSD.

Mr Fra McCann re-joined the meeting at 10:24am

          The officials briefed the Committee on the responses received from Professor Harrington’s call for evidence on the Work Capability Assessment.  This was followed by a question and answer session.

The Committee expressed disappointment that Professor Harrington has not yet visited Northern Ireland to assess the progress being made here in respect of his recommendations regarding the Work Capability Assessment.

The Committee welcomed the Department’s request to the Department for Work and Pensions for the new independent reviewer, when appointed, to visit Northern Ireland.

Some Members were of the view that the responses to the call for evidence show that there has been no improvement in the Work Capability Assessment and that there are serious fundamental flaws with the system. In particular Members expressed concerns that mental health issues are not being catered for throughout the assessment.

Mr David McClarty left the meeting at 11:58am

Mr Gregory Campbell left the meeting at 12:07am

The Committee asked for the Department to provide a further update it when Professor Harrington releases his recommendations.

The Chairperson thanked the officials for their attendance.

The officials left the meeting at 12:10pm.

Mr Fra McCann left the meeting at 12:10pm

Mr Mark H Durkan left the meeting at 12:10pm          

7. Community Asset Transfer – Departmental Briefing

The following Departmental officials joined the meeting at 12:11pm:

Mr Michael Daly, DSD; and

Ms Bebhinn Ni Bhriain, DSD

The officials briefed the Committee on the proposed Community Asset Transfer policy.

Mr Fra McCann re-joined the meeting at 12:19pm

Mr Michael Copeland left the meeting at 12:21pm

This was followed by a detailed discussion on a number of issues including; how the Department can ensure the stability of the transferred assets; the need for Departmental resources to closely monitoring transfers; and what role local Governments will have in the process.

Members generally welcomed the policy and acknowledged how transferred assets could benefit communities.

The Chairperson thanked the officials for their attendance.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to schedule a briefing on Community Assert Transfer in the New Year.

The officials left the meeting at 12:30pm.

8. Proposed Subordinate Legislation

The Committee considered the following proposed subordinate legislation;

  • The Social Security (Habitual Residence) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012

Agreed: The Committee agreed for the Rule to be made

9. Statutory Rules

The Committee noted the following Commencement Order;

  • The Pensions (2008 No. 2 Act) (Commencement No. 10 and Supplementary Provisions) Order (Northern Ireland) 2012

10.    Correspondence

The Committee considered an invitation from Action Mental Health to participate in its event in the Great Hall on 9 October.  The Chairperson asked Members to contact the Committee officials if they wish to participate in this event.

The Chairperson reminded Members that Guide Dogs for the Blind have arranged to meet with some Committee Members on 9 October at 1.15pm.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed for all items of correspondence to be dealt with as per        the Correspondence Memo. 

10. Forward Work Programme

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content with the Forward Work Programme.

11. Charities Bill – Clause-by-clause scrutiny

The following officials from the Department joined the meeting at 12.35pm

Mr Roy McGivern; and

Mr Kieran Doyle

The Committee considered the delegated powers memorandum associated with the Bill and noted the findings of the Examiner of Statutory Rules.

The Committee undertook its formal clause-by-clause scrutiny of the Bill.

Clause 1 The public benefit requirement

Question put and agreed:

“That the Committee is content with Clause 1 as drafted.

Clause 2 Gifts for mixed purposes

Question put and agreed:

“That the Committee is content with Clause 2 as drafted.”

Clause 3 Persons disqualified for being trustees of a charity

Question put and agreed:

“That the Committee is content with Clause 3 as drafted.”

Clause 4 Educational endowments

Question put and agreed:

“That the Committee is content with Clause 4 as drafted.”

Clause 5 Miscellaneous functions

Question put and agreed:

“That the Committee is content with Clause 5 as drafted.”

Clause 6 Supplementary provisions

Question put and agreed:

“That the Committee is content with Clause 6 as drafted.”

Clause 7 Interpretation

Question put and agreed:

“That the Committee is content with Clause 7 as drafted.”

Clause 8 Minor and consequential amendments and repeals

Question put and agreed:

“That the Committee is content with Clause 8 as drafted.”

Clause 9 Power to make supplementary and transitional provision etc.

The Committee considered advice from the Examiner of Statutory Rules in respect of Clause 9 of the Bill.  The Examiner of Statutory Rules advised that there was a strong case for amending clause 9 so that orders under that provision which do not amend, repeal or modify a statutory provision should be subject to negative resolution. The Committee indicated that it was to content to accept the advice of the Examiner of Statutory Rules.  

The Committee asked the Department to provide text for a proposed amendment to Clause 9 at next week’s meeting.

Clause 10 Commencement

Question put and agreed:

“That the Committee is content with Clause 10 as drafted.”

Clause 11 Short Title

Question put and agreed:

“That the Committee is content with Clause 11 as drafted.”

Schedule 1 – Minor and consequential amendments

Question put and agreed

“That the Committee is content with Schedule 1 as drafted.”

Schedule 2 -  Repeals

Question put and agreed:

“That the Committee is content with Schedule 2 as drafted.”

This session was recorded by Hansard

The Chairperson thanked the officials for their attendance.

The officials left the meeting at 12:40pm.

Ms Pam Brown left the meeting at 12:40pm

At 12:40pm the Chairperson suspended the meeting.

12. Welfare Reform Bill – Departmental Briefing

The following officials from the Department joined the meeting at 13.12pm

Ms Anne McCleary

Mr Michael Pollock

Ms Martina Campbell; and

Mr Colm McLaughlin

Mr Michael Copeland re-joined the meeting at 13:14pm         

The officials briefed the Committee on the general principles of the Welfare Reform Bill.  This was followed by a question and answer session covering a range of issues relating to Universal Credit; the Benefit Cap; transitional protection; conditionality groups; sanctions, Employment and Support Allowance; fraud and error; Personal Independence Payment.

Ms Pam Brown re-joined the meeting at 13:37pm

The briefing was recorded by Hansard

The Chairperson thanked the officials for their attendance.

The officials left the meeting at 13:59pm.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to ask the following:

  • clarification on the differences between the GB Bill and the NI Bill;
  • clarification on the differences between direct payments here and in GB;
  • if the Department has examined all optional areas of flexibility in the Bill;
  • clarification on whether ESA will carry on in its current form;
  • if the Department has been in any discussions with other Departments on whether the jobs will be available for people to go back to work;
  • clarification on the amount of benefits that will be abolished;
  • if there is any scope for monthly payments to be fortnightly;
  • confirmation on whether childcare payments will only be for registered child minders;
  • clarification on the timeline for transitional protection;
  • confirmation on whether the Committee will be briefed on the new IT system underpinning PIP and Universal Credit;
  • confirmation on whether Child Benefit is included in the proposed benefit cap; and
  • details of the impact on the main applicant reaching pension age in the under occupancy proposals.

 

13. Any Other Business

There was no other business

14. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will take place at 10:00am on Wednesday 10 October 2012 in Room 144 Parliament Buildings.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 14:00pm.

Mr Alex Maskey
Chairperson, Committee for Social Development.
11 October 2012

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