Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 22 March 2012

Venue: Room 29

The meeting began in public session at 10.04am                   

1. Apologies.

Apologies were indicated as above.

2. Draft Minutes of Meeting 15 March 2012.   

Agreed:  The minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 15 March 2012 were agreed.

3. Chairperson’s Business.

The Chairperson advised Members that the Northern Ireland Federation for Housing Associations (NIFHA) has requested sight of the Department’s briefing paper on Special Needs Management Allowance.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the paper to NIFHA.

The Chairperson reminded Members of the on-going consultation on Personal Independence Payment. 

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department to ask for an update on the responses, once they have been collated, and to indicate that the Committee will want to consider these before making a response to the consultation.

The Chairperson advised Members that the Committee officials have been contacted by staff from the Green Party requesting copies of briefing papers from the Committee meetings. The Committee acknowledged that this may be a policy issue to be considered by the Chairperson Liaison Group.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward these papers at this time. 

The Chairperson also advised Members that BS Holdings have contacted the Committee seeking assurance that wood pellet boilers are included in the Warm Homes Schemes.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to write to the Department to seek clarification on the inclusion of wood pellet boilers in the Warm Homes Scheme.

4. Matters Arising.

There were no matters arising.

Ms Pam Brown joined the meeting at 10.07am

Ms Paula Bradley joined the meeting at 10.07am

Mr Mark H Durkan joined the meeting at 10.07am

5. Audit of Inequalities Action Plan – Departmental Briefing.

The following officials from the Department joined the meeting at 10.07am:

Mr Dave Wall

Ms Margaret Sisk

Ms Julie Lavery

The officials briefed the Committee on the Audit of Inequalities Action Plan.    

This was followed by a question and answer session.

Discussion on the action plan included the actions in connection with Welfare Reform.  Some Members questioned what research has been undertaken in respect of Welfare Reform and Section 75 groups and how this would inform the type of mitigating measures that the Department might have to take in respect of the proposed Bill.

The Chairperson thanked the officials for the briefing.

The representatives left the meeting at 10.42am

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Department regarding benefit uptake.  Specifically, the Committee sought clarification on the length of time it will take officers to complete the benefit uptake cases for all pensioners who are currently missing out.

6. Lagan River Rescue – Briefing by the Lagan Search and Rescue Service

The following representatives from the Lagan Search and Rescue Service joined the meeting at 10.42am:

Mr Philip Batt
Mr Simon Megaw
Mr Brian McConnell

The representatives briefed the Committee on the proposed Lagan River Rescue       Service.  This was followed by a question and answer session.

Ms Paula Bradley left the meeting at 11.15am

The Committee recognised the potential need for such a service on the Lagan.

The Chairperson thanked the representatives for the briefing.

The representatives left the meeting at 11.18am

7. Lagan River Rescue – Briefing by the Community Rescue Service

The following representatives from the Community Rescue Service joined the meeting at 11.19am: 

Mr Sean McCarry
Mr Jonathan Patton

The representatives briefed the Committee on the services currently provided by the Community Rescue Service and the need to enhance this service.

This was followed by a question and answer session.

The Committee acknowledged the excellent service already provided by the Community Rescue Service and asked about what additional services they envisage providing in the future.

Ms Paula Bradley re-joined the meeting at 11.24am

Mr Michael Copeland left the meeting at 11.53am

The Chairperson thanked the representatives for the briefing.

The officials left the meeting at 12.02pm.

Mr David McClarty left the meeting at 12.02pm

Mr Mark H Durkan left the meeting at 12.02pm

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to write to the Minister to seek the support of the Department for the provision of these services to the environs of the Lagan; and to investigate the potential for the Department to provide a mooring for a rescue boat.  The Committee also agreed to recommend that the Department liaise with the PSNI in offering its support to the proposed service.

Mr Mark H Durkan re-joined the meeting at 12.06pm

8. Proposed Subordinate Legislation

The Housing Benefit (Executive Determinations) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012.

The Committee agreed to defer consideration of the proposed Rule.

Mr Michael Copeland re-joined the meeting at 12.12pm

The Jobseeker’s Allowance (Domestic Violence) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012

The Committee agreed to defer consideration of the proposed Rule.

9. Statutory Rules

The Guaranteed Minimum Pensions Increase Order (Northern Ireland) 2012

Question put and agreed:

“That the Committee for Social Development has considered Statutory Rule SR97/2012 The Guaranteed Minimum Pensions Increase Order (Northern Ireland) 2012 and, subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules Report has no objection to the Order”.

The Social Security (Claims and Payments) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012.

Question put and agreed:

“That the Committee for Social Development has considered Statutory Rule SR107/2012 The Social Security (Claims and Payments) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 and subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules Report has no objection to the Rule”.

The Social Security (Recovery) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012.

The Committee divided on the following motion:

“That the Committee for Social Development has considered Statutory Rule SR108/2012 The Social Security (Recovery) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 and subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules Report has no objection to the Rule”.

Ayes 6

Noes 4

Motion supported.

The Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Levies) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012.

Question put and agreed:

“That the Committee for Social Development has considered Statutory Rule SR98/2012 The Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Levies) (Amendments) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 and recommends that it be confirmed by the Assembly”.

The Social Security (Credits) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012.

Question put and agreed:

“That the Committee for Social Development has considered Statutory Rule SR109/2012 The Social Security (Credits) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 and subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules Report has no objection to the Rule”.

The Pensions (2005 Order) (Disclosure of Restricted Information by the Pensions Regulator) (Amendment) Order (Northern Ireland) 2012.

Question put and agreed:

“That the Committee for Social Development has considered Statutory Rule SR110/2012 The Pensions (2005 Order) (Disclosure of Restricted Information by the   Pensions Regulator) (Amendment) Order (Northern Ireland) 2012 and, subject to the        Examiner of Statutory Rules Report has no objection to the Order”.

The Social Security Benefits Up-rating Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012

Question put and agreed:

“That the Committee for Social Development has considered Statutory Rule SR117/2012 The Social Security Benefits Up-rating Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 and, subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules Report has no objection to the Rule”.

The Social Security (Industrial Injuries) (Dependency) (Permitted Earnings Limits) Order (Northern Ireland) 2012

Question put and agreed:

“That the Committee for Social Development has considered Statutory Rule SR118/2012 The Social Security (Industrial Injuries) (Dependency) (Permitted Earnings Limits) Order (Northern Ireland) 2012 and, subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules    Report has no objection to the Order”.

The Social Security (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012.

Question put and agreed:

“That the Committee for Social Development has considered Statutory Rule SR121/2012 The Social Security (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 and, subject to the Examiner of Statutory Rules Report has no objection to    the Rule”.

The Pensions (2008 Act) (Abolition of Contracting-Out for Defined Contribution Pension Schemes) (Consequential Provisions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012.

Question put and agreed:

“That the Committee for Social Development has considered Statutory Rule SR120/2012 The Pensions (2008 Act) (Abolition of Contracting-out for Defined Contribution Pension Schemes) (Consequential Provisions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 and recommends that it be confirmed by the Assembly”.

The Pensions (2008 No2 Act) (Abolition of Protected Rights) (Consequential Provisions) Order (Northern Ireland) 2012

Question put and agreed:

“That the Committee for Social Development has considered Statutory Rule SR124/2012 The Pensions (2008 Act) (Abolition of Protected Rights) (Consequential Provisions) Order (Northern Ireland) 2012 and recommends that it be confirmed by the        Assembly”.

The Committee noted the following Commencement Orders:

The Pensions (2008 Act) (Commencement No.3) Order (Northern Ireland) 2012; and

The Pensions (2008 No. 2 Act) (Commencement No. 7) Order (NI) 2012.

10. Correspondence

The Committee noted a response from the Department regarding the recommendations from the previous Committee’s report on town centre regeneration.

Ms Pam Brown left the meeting at 12.26pm

The Committee considered correspondence from the Department regarding the Green New Deal.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward this item of correspondence to the Committees for Finance and Personnel, Enterprise Trade and Investment and Agriculture and Rural Development.

Ms Pam Brown left the meeting at 12.26am

The Committee considered correspondence from the OFMdFM Committee regarding the abolition of DEL and Transfer of Functions Consultation.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it would not submit a response to this consultation.

The Committee considered correspondence from the OFMdFM Committee regarding the Fort George site.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward this item of correspondence to the Department.

The Committee considered correspondence from the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC) requesting the opportunity to present to the Committee on town regeneration and business improvement districts.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to schedule a briefing from NIRC after the Easter Recess period.

The Chairperson advised Members that a reporter from the Newry Reporter has copied the Committee into several emails regarding issues with a £200,000 compensation event funding and the St Colman’s Project in Newry.

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to await a response from the Department on this issue.

Agreed: The Committee agreed for the remaining items of correspondence to be dealt with as per the proposed next steps in the correspondence Memo.

11. Forward Work Programme

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to note the draft Forward Work Programme.

12. Any Other Business

Agreed:  The Committee agreed to write to the Department for clarification on any cuts to funding in respect of the Millennium Volunteers.

13. Date, time and place of next meeting

The next meeting will take place at 10.00am on Thursday 29 March 2012 in Room 29 Parliament Buildings.

The meeting adjourned at 12.33pm

Mr Alex Maskey
Chairperson, Committee for Social Development.
29 March 2012

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