06/11/2012 Stormont Today


06/11/2012

A political programme focusing on the day's events at the Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive. Mark Carruthers is the guide through the corridors of power at Stormont.


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Transcript


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Hello and welcome to Stormont Today. Coming up in the next 30 minutes:

:00:28.:00:30.

How a decision by the Agriculture Minister will help some sports

:00:30.:00:40.
:00:40.:00:42.

manufacturers. Ash wood can only be imported under certain tech nickal

:00:42.:00:52.

conditions. -- technical conditions. Also: There is a perception that

:00:52.:00:58.

this Chamber is male and middle- aged.

:00:58.:01:01.

MLAs vote in favour of change and call for the reduction of the

:01:01.:01:04.

minimum voting age here to 16. And we'll hear from our Political

:01:04.:01:07.

Editor who's been walking the corridors of power to keep us up-

:01:07.:01:10.

to-date with all that's happening up here on the hill.

:01:10.:01:12.

First tonight, there was a somewhat muted atmosphere around Parliament

:01:12.:01:15.

Buildings today, as the thoughts of many elected representatives were

:01:15.:01:20.

focused elsewhere. A large number of MLAs were keen to attend the

:01:20.:01:23.

funeral of the murdered prison officer, David Black, in Cookstown

:01:23.:01:25.

and the Assembly's Business Committee decided to alter the

:01:25.:01:29.

agenda to accommodate them. Our Political Editor, Mark Devenport,

:01:29.:01:37.

is here to talk us through the day. It was a very unusual day at

:01:37.:01:41.

Stormont? It was. We had this unusual suspension in the middle of

:01:41.:01:45.

the day. Normally, they have a lunch break. Instead, they were

:01:45.:01:49.

stopping at noon and then not coming back until 4.00pm. That was

:01:49.:01:53.

all about the funeral of the murdered Prison Officer, David

:01:53.:01:56.

Black, in Cookstown. A lot of elected representatives wanted to

:01:56.:02:00.

make their way there, as we were reporting yesterday. It wasn't

:02:00.:02:04.

everyone from the Assembly because the family expressed their wishes

:02:04.:02:07.

there should be no Sinn Fein representatives so there was no

:02:07.:02:09.

presence from the Deputy First Minister, who otherwise you would

:02:09.:02:12.

have thought he would have been there, he was talking about the

:02:12.:02:19.

murder of David Black in the Chamber and calling those

:02:19.:02:22.

responsible "idiots". The suspension finished. We went on to

:02:22.:02:27.

questions. Some of the elected representatives were still having

:02:27.:02:31.

difficulties getting back because Danny Kennedy was late by nine

:02:31.:02:40.

minutes for his question time, which was due to happen at 4.30pm.

:02:40.:02:48.

The Sinn Fein Green Party motion later today on lowering the age of

:02:48.:02:52.

voting to 16 was debated and passed? Yes, passed by 51 votes to

:02:52.:02:56.

29. All the parties lining up on the side of changingst voting age

:02:56.:03:00.

with the exception of the DUP and the TUV. The interesting thing

:03:00.:03:04.

there is that the Ulster Unionists, who you might have thought would

:03:04.:03:14.

not have been keen on this, they came out for a change in the voting

:03:14.:03:19.

age. The DUP weren't convinced. They came under attack from critics

:03:19.:03:25.

who said some of your MPs have said they are in favour of this move and

:03:25.:03:31.

Sinn Fein produced a parliamentary motion which Peter Robinson had

:03:31.:03:35.

signed in 2005 supporting this move. The DUP say their assembly group

:03:35.:03:39.

policy is there shouldn't be a change. What happens next? This is

:03:39.:03:44.

a call for Westminster to change the law as far as the voting age is

:03:44.:03:47.

concerned. The Assembly doesn't have the power to do anything

:03:47.:03:52.

itself? Because Sinn Fein and the Greens were putting this forward,

:03:52.:03:59.

they came under attack, but electoral policy is the prominence

:03:59.:04:08.

of the Northern Ireland Office. Thank you.

:04:08.:04:11.

More now on Regional Development Questions, and, as we've been

:04:11.:04:14.

hearing, Danny Kennedy was one of the MLAs who attended the funeral

:04:14.:04:16.

of David Black this afternoon. The Roads Minister began by apologising

:04:16.:04:19.

to the House for delaying the start of Question Time after getting

:04:19.:04:26.

caught in traffic. Members will know that I'm travelling back with

:04:26.:04:29.

others to the very sad circumstances in Cookstown, the

:04:29.:04:36.

funeral of Mr David Black, which was a very solemn and dignified

:04:36.:04:43.

occasion. And I apologise to the House for my slight delay. As the

:04:43.:04:48.

member will be aware, the increase in the cost of penalty charge

:04:48.:04:55.

notices from �60 to �90 took effect from 4th July 2012. In the

:04:55.:05:05.

intervening period to 31st October 2012, 37,277 PCNs have been issued.

:05:05.:05:11.

This represents a decrease of just over one-tenth when compared to the

:05:11.:05:16.

41,052 that were issued in 2011. My department is monitoring the impact

:05:16.:05:20.

of this fee increase on illegal parking as well as the various

:05:20.:05:25.

types of contraventions. This monitoring exercise will run for 12

:05:25.:05:30.

months to allow for a comprehensive assessment to be completed. My

:05:30.:05:34.

department will carry out a statistical analysis of the results

:05:34.:05:44.
:05:44.:05:46.

found in Northern Ireland compared to those in England and Wales.

:05:46.:05:54.

Given 28% of tickets are issued on one road in Belfast, and 86% of

:05:54.:05:58.

those issued between 4.30 and 6.30, does the Minister consider that the

:05:58.:06:03.

company carrying out the contract at present is doing so in a fair

:06:03.:06:09.

and equitable way across Belfast? The contract for this work was

:06:09.:06:15.

retendered and has been allocated. I'm satisfied that the successful

:06:15.:06:19.

tender does fulfil all of the requirements in terms of what is

:06:19.:06:23.

necessary including increased savings to the department and the

:06:23.:06:30.

cost of these services which of course is quite substantial. The

:06:30.:06:36.

member has raised the issue of a particular section of clear way.

:06:36.:06:40.

I'm still assessing that particular situation and will be happy to

:06:40.:06:46.

liaise with him as we give further consideration to the questions that

:06:46.:06:53.

have been raised. We don't seek to punish people and let me make clear

:06:53.:07:01.

again that the company involved, there are no increased benefits for

:07:01.:07:05.

additional tickets to be issued and it is not done on that basis and

:07:05.:07:11.

the individuals who served the tickets gain no benefit on a

:07:11.:07:16.

personal basis either. Can I ask him, how much money is being lost

:07:16.:07:22.

to his department as a result of this delay? The member will be

:07:22.:07:29.

aware that, as it's been previously indicated, the clock is now running

:07:29.:07:35.

on those delays and any delay will certainly result in increased costs

:07:35.:07:41.

in a number of areas. Assuming there is no change in the total

:07:41.:07:44.

construction period, there would be direct quantified inflationary

:07:44.:07:49.

increases arising from month on month delays to the start of

:07:49.:07:54.

construction. The project team will attempt to mitigate the impact of

:07:54.:07:58.

any delay, however the initial assessment of a delay to the

:07:58.:08:06.

starting date is in the order of �750,000 per month. Of course,

:08:06.:08:14.

there is also the postponement of the scheduled start date which will

:08:14.:08:20.

result in the department having to declare back to the Northern

:08:20.:08:23.

Ireland Bloc �10 million for every month of delay.

:08:23.:08:25.

The Regional Development Minister, Danny Kennedy.

:08:25.:08:27.

The Agriculture Minister, Michelle O'Neill, briefed Members on what

:08:27.:08:29.

she's doing to protect ash trees here from the potentially

:08:29.:08:33.

devastating Ash Dieback disease. It's been found in four counties in

:08:33.:08:36.

England and the Minister has signed emergency legislation to try to

:08:36.:08:40.

prevent its spread here. And during Question Time, she also dealt with

:08:40.:08:42.

questions about the planned relocation of her department to

:08:42.:08:49.

Ballykelly. I recognise that the location could cause problems for

:08:49.:08:52.

some existing staff and I have therefore outlined my commitment to

:08:52.:08:57.

use the time that we have available to ensure that the transition from

:08:57.:09:02.

Belfast-based headquarters to the rural setting of Ballykelly is made

:09:02.:09:05.

as easy as possible for all the staff. I'm aware the railway line

:09:06.:09:10.

crosses the lower end of the site and I have written to the Minister

:09:10.:09:15.

for Regional Development inviting him to give serious consideration

:09:15.:09:21.

to a rail hub. Would she agree she showed a complete disregard to the

:09:21.:09:24.

pressure on local infrastructure in the area? Would it not have been

:09:24.:09:29.

bet tore have these conversations before you announced your decision?

:09:29.:09:33.

The member might be surprised to know I don't agree that I brought

:09:33.:09:38.

my decision on the 3rd September to the Executive. I announced to my

:09:38.:09:43.

colleagues, the objective criteria, I informed them of my move and I

:09:44.:09:48.

decided on the Ballykelly site. I did what I needed to do in terms of

:09:48.:09:53.

informing Executive colleagues. Given Fermanagh has a significant

:09:53.:09:57.

number of ash trees, can the Minister give an update on the

:09:58.:10:01.

situation with the ash dieback disease? I am pleased to report

:10:01.:10:05.

following a meeting with the Minister last Friday, we agreed the

:10:05.:10:10.

need for additional safeguards on imports of ash wood and bark. We

:10:10.:10:16.

found there are regular imports of ash logs from manufacturing

:10:16.:10:20.

purposes. That is a potential pathway for disease. Today, I

:10:20.:10:25.

authorise the making of a statutory rule, the plant health wood and

:10:25.:10:28.

bark amendment order as emergency legislation. From today, ash wood

:10:28.:10:33.

can only be imported under certain conditions as set out in the order.

:10:33.:10:38.

I believe this is a proportionate response to the risk of introducing

:10:38.:10:44.

disease in wood. From today, these can only be imported if they are

:10:44.:10:47.

accompanied by an official statement that the wood originates

:10:47.:10:53.

in an area known to be free from Chalara fraxinea. However, the risk

:10:53.:11:01.

reduces substantially if the wood receives suitable treatment. It is

:11:01.:11:06.

in light of what happened when ever foot-and-mouth came on the scene

:11:06.:11:10.

where the carcasses of the beasts were burnt. In relation to the ash,

:11:10.:11:14.

I can appreciate that certain people might say the right approach

:11:14.:11:21.

would be to burn the ash and therefore probably deal with the

:11:21.:11:28.

hurly stick business in a different way. Is the eradication on site - I

:11:28.:11:34.

have been told by moving those spores of trees that are damaged,

:11:34.:11:38.

it spreads it around the country, and that could happen. We have had

:11:38.:11:43.

no outbreaks in the North. We don't have any at this stage. Hopefully,

:11:43.:11:47.

we won't have to deal with it. In the South they did burn and it was

:11:47.:11:55.

on site. I can confirm that with the member. For me, it is about

:11:55.:12:03.

protecting our native species and the hurly makers. We have found a

:12:03.:12:10.

way forward that will allow them to make hurls way into the future.

:12:10.:12:13.

The Agriculture Minister, Michelle O'Neill, with a sporting offer to

:12:13.:12:15.

the DUP's Paul Girvan. The Education Minister has rejected

:12:15.:12:17.

DUP criticisms of his handling of computer glitches in primary

:12:17.:12:22.

schools. In a statement about his aims for education, John O'Dowd

:12:23.:12:25.

also told the Assembly that while most teachers are excellent, there

:12:25.:12:32.

are some who need retraining or are not effective any more. On 17th

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October the Chief Inspector of the department's education training

:12:37.:12:40.

inspectorate launched the annual report on the state of the

:12:40.:12:47.

education system. The inspectorate makes a key contribution to raising

:12:47.:12:53.

standard. It acts as a catalyst for improvement. In the last year, 81%

:12:53.:12:57.

of schools with follow-up inspections had improved one

:12:57.:13:01.

performance level. The report paints an improving picture in our

:13:01.:13:06.

primary schools. A picture that shows that the revised curriculum

:13:06.:13:16.
:13:16.:13:16.

has bedded in well. At Key Stage 2, overall quality was good or better

:13:16.:13:20.

in four-fifths of primary schools inspected. I would like to

:13:20.:13:22.

acknowledge the dedication of our primary schools and the improvement

:13:22.:13:28.

that has been delivered. Too many children are not well served. It is

:13:28.:13:33.

very clear from the Chief Inspector's report and from wider

:13:34.:13:38.

evidence that effective leadership and high quality teaching are

:13:38.:13:45.

central to delivering improvement. Now it has been held accountable

:13:45.:13:55.
:13:55.:13:56.

for the outcomes. We need to do more. More to acknowledge the great

:13:56.:14:00.

teachers and develop more of them. And more to challenge and support

:14:00.:14:04.

those who are not as effective as they should be. For that reason, I

:14:04.:14:08.

have already announced action to enhance the professional standing

:14:08.:14:14.

of teachers this year. I propose to bring legislation to strengthen the

:14:14.:14:17.

role of the General Teaching Council as the professional body in

:14:17.:14:21.

supporting teachers and upholding the highest professional standards.

:14:21.:14:26.

We will also support the continuing price of the development of

:14:26.:14:29.

teachers through a new strategy for teacher education that will focus

:14:29.:14:39.

on attracting the right people into teaching. I also want to announce

:14:39.:14:44.

that as part of our work to learn from the best, the North will be

:14:44.:14:49.

participating in a major review by the Organisation for Economic Co-

:14:49.:14:52.

operation and Development, OECD, looking at how assessment and

:14:52.:14:56.

evaluation systems deliver improvement force pupils. Our

:14:56.:14:59.

experience will help others learn from our experience. Importantly,

:14:59.:15:05.

it will also help us to learn from others, too. It will involve an in-

:15:05.:15:15.

depth review of our education system carried out by independent

:15:15.:15:21.

experts from other OECD countries. It seems right after all that if

:15:21.:15:24.

you expect our schools to be inspected and evaluated and to

:15:24.:15:30.

respond with action to build on strength, we should expect to

:15:30.:15:36.

subject our system as a whole to similar scrutiny. You used

:15:36.:15:40.

"exciting development". There will hard I'll be few teachers who will

:15:40.:15:44.

be sitting on the edge of their seat as a result of the content of

:15:44.:15:53.

what is in the Minister's speech. He has tried to expand on the

:15:53.:15:58.

statement that he made last year. I do have a concern, Minister,

:15:58.:16:03.

however, that teachers listening to this today will be of the opinion

:16:03.:16:09.

that they are being asked to pick up the tab for the failures of the

:16:09.:16:14.

department rather than addressing the issues which are currently in

:16:15.:16:20.

our educational system. It always amazes me how the member manages to

:16:20.:16:23.

evaluate what the outside world is thinking. There will be different

:16:23.:16:28.

views on what I have said today both in the teaching profession and

:16:28.:16:33.

parents and also on boards of governors. I'm not pointing the

:16:33.:16:36.

finger at teachers here. We have a collective responsibility to

:16:36.:16:40.

improve the educational outcomes of our young people and within the

:16:40.:16:43.

collective responsibility there is a role for teachers. And I have

:16:43.:16:47.

said in my statement the vast majority of our teachers are

:16:47.:16:52.

excellent. However, we have to accept that there's teachers out

:16:52.:16:56.

there who require retraining and there's teachers who are no longer

:16:56.:16:59.

effective. I don't believe we have the mechanisms in place to deal

:16:59.:17:03.

with that quickly enough to make an impact. I want those discussions to

:17:03.:17:11.

continue. I also set out a challenge for myself as Minister. I

:17:11.:17:16.

have called in OECD to inspect our education system. The education

:17:16.:17:22.

system I am in charge of. The buck stops with me. OECD are coming to

:17:22.:17:26.

inspect my role as Minister and the policies I have delivered. I don't

:17:26.:17:34.

think I can be any more open and transparent than that. At the close

:17:34.:17:44.

of play, around 100 schools were facing difficulty. Their computer

:17:44.:17:47.

experts tell me they have identified a problem in the system

:17:47.:17:51.

and they have identified a way to resolve that problem. And they are

:17:51.:17:57.

running further tests before they put that into the system. We don't

:17:57.:18:02.

have wide scale problems. We do not have a crisis. We have a difficulty

:18:02.:18:05.

and a problem. The Education Minister, John O'Dowd.

:18:05.:18:08.

As we heard from Mark Devenport earlier in the programme, the

:18:08.:18:11.

Assembly voted in favour of reducing the voting age to 16.

:18:11.:18:13.

Changing the law remains the responsibility of the Government in

:18:13.:18:17.

Westminster but today at Stormont, the DUP was the only main party not

:18:17.:18:24.

calling for a change. I have been extremely politically active and

:18:24.:18:29.

aware since my early teens but was only entitled to a vote three years

:18:29.:18:33.

ago. I want to ensure young people are given a greater say. The

:18:33.:18:38.

argument that older people know what is best for younger people was

:18:38.:18:42.

used to deny women the vote in the 1900s. This motion should be a

:18:42.:18:45.

motion of confidence in the younger generation. I urge everyone to

:18:45.:18:51.

support it. To those who don't, it shows the fear of becoming

:18:51.:18:57.

irrelevant. I can't help but notice a huge reason for political

:18:57.:19:01.

detachment is the very make-up of this Chamber. There is a real

:19:01.:19:05.

perception that this Chamber is male and middle-aged and too much

:19:05.:19:09.

so. It is time for change. Can I say that whilst the people who are

:19:09.:19:15.

involved in the vote at 16 movement are clearly well educated, clearly

:19:15.:19:19.

well motivated and take an interest in the political process - there is

:19:19.:19:24.

no doubt of that - I don't think that that can be said for the vast

:19:25.:19:28.

majority of 16-year-olds across the country. I don't think that every

:19:28.:19:31.

16-year-old will be watching proceedings today with a huge

:19:31.:19:37.

degree of interest. The party is opposed to voting at 16. Could he

:19:37.:19:41.

explain is his party united in this? We are given to understand

:19:41.:19:47.

that one of your MPs does support voting at 16 so is that a united

:19:47.:19:50.

position, or...? I think that members are able to hold their own

:19:50.:19:54.

individual views on this. I don't think that would be unique. The

:19:54.:19:58.

Assembly party here is united on this vote. We don't believe in

:19:58.:20:05.

voting at 16. I could list the number of things you cannot do at

:20:05.:20:13.

16. You cannot drive, you can't rent out films such as Robocop. So

:20:13.:20:17.

the reason that society has said you can't do that is because of

:20:17.:20:20.

protection. It is somewhat ironic that some of the individuals here

:20:20.:20:25.

today who will argue to give 16- year-olds more responsibility are

:20:25.:20:29.

the very people who also argue and supported raising the smoking age

:20:29.:20:38.

up to 18 and want to have further restrictions on young drivers.

:20:38.:20:42.

Another aspect is the issue of citizenship training. Our young

:20:42.:20:48.

people are being taught in our schools about the importance of

:20:48.:20:52.

voting. What happens at present, they are given this information,

:20:52.:20:56.

many come 16, they leave school, and it is a minimum of two years

:20:56.:21:00.

before they have an opportunity to exercise their vote. They forget

:21:00.:21:03.

what they have learnt at school and they haven't had a chance to

:21:03.:21:08.

exercise it. How much better would it not be having gone through your

:21:08.:21:11.

citizenship training that you were presented at the first chance of an

:21:12.:21:16.

election to exercise that vote and participate? The habits learnt in

:21:16.:21:20.

our younger years tend to be what follows on in our latter years. It

:21:20.:21:25.

is vital we encourage more people to vote. If young people are able

:21:25.:21:31.

to go and fight wars, they should be entitled to vote for the

:21:31.:21:36.

Government that would send them. I do think that I am fed up hearing

:21:36.:21:40.

politicians say young people are apathetic. They aren't interested

:21:40.:21:44.

in politics. I often speak to young people as do many people in this

:21:44.:21:48.

House. They are far from apathetic. They are very, very interested in

:21:49.:21:54.

many issues in society. One thing they are not interested in is how

:21:54.:21:59.

this political process and these bodies engage with them and attempt

:21:59.:22:03.

to try to encourage them to become involved in politics. None of us

:22:03.:22:07.

know for certain whether such an extension would lead to a

:22:07.:22:11.

significant increase in young people voting. We need to qur and

:22:11.:22:19.

implement measures that deal with - - everyone in this chamber should

:22:19.:22:28.

agree with me that that is a good thing. It certainly is not a reason

:22:28.:22:31.

to deny politically active 16-year- olds their democratic rights.

:22:31.:22:32.

The Alliance Party's Stewart Dickson.

:22:32.:22:36.

Joining me now is one of the proposers of that motion, the Green

:22:36.:22:40.

Party's Steven Agnew. Why does lowering the age of voting to 16

:22:40.:22:44.

make sense in your view? I think more and more young people are

:22:44.:22:48.

engaged in politics. We are doing citizenship courses in schools. We

:22:48.:22:54.

do have a problem of 18 to 25-year- olds voting and research suggests

:22:54.:23:03.

that 16s is a much better age to get younger people engaged. At 16,

:23:03.:23:08.

you are in school, you can be in school getting registered to vote,

:23:08.:23:17.

it is time - you are talking - so make it real. When we look at

:23:17.:23:21.

things, we had a debate about the age of criminal responsibility. We

:23:21.:23:26.

say young people are responsible at the age of ten for their actions.

:23:26.:23:31.

At 16, we are arguing you are not responsible enough to vote. At 16,

:23:31.:23:36.

you are well enough informed. they interested? Critics of the

:23:36.:23:41.

idea say there is a huge amount of apathy as far as 18 to 25-year-olds

:23:41.:23:44.

are concerned. Where is the evidence that 16 and 17-year-olds

:23:44.:23:47.

will take the opportunity to vote? I remember being 16. I remember all

:23:47.:23:51.

the young people I went to school with and went on to university with.

:23:51.:24:01.
:24:01.:24:02.

Young people are the most energetic, passionate opinionated group. This

:24:02.:24:07.

is a time when you are exploring all these thing. You have the time

:24:07.:24:15.

to. You can research them. So they are interested. There has been a

:24:15.:24:21.

failure of politicians to engage young people and to reflect their

:24:21.:24:31.
:24:31.:24:31.

views. OK. You have to address the issues that matter to young people.

:24:31.:24:37.

OK. You won the motion today, the vote 51 to 29. What happens now?

:24:37.:24:40.

You hand this over to Westminster and there is no guarantee that

:24:40.:24:45.

Westminster will do anything about it? There is a Private Members'

:24:46.:24:50.

Bill in the House of Lords looking at lowering the voting age. We are

:24:50.:24:55.

sending a clear message that in the Northern Ireland Assembly, they

:24:55.:24:57.

support the reduction. Steven Agnew, thank you.

:24:57.:24:59.

Legislation which will reform the welfare system has been the source

:24:59.:25:02.

of significant controversy here at Stormont in recent weeks. Well,

:25:02.:25:04.

last week, the Social Development Committee took evidence on whether

:25:04.:25:08.

or not the bill is compliant with human rights legislation, as we can

:25:08.:25:15.

hear now in our weekly look at committee business. I must record

:25:15.:25:20.

that the Commission is disappointed that there is a lack of evidence

:25:20.:25:24.

that the department has undertaken the required human rights scrutiny

:25:24.:25:30.

of the bill. We noted that last Monday that the Minister for social

:25:30.:25:33.

development advised the Assembly that the department had conducted a

:25:33.:25:37.

full analysis of the bill against the European Convention on Human

:25:37.:25:41.

Rights. The Commission would point out to you that the department is

:25:41.:25:45.

obliged to analyse the bill against all relevant human rights standards

:25:45.:25:48.

in the Treaty obligations in the Council of Europe and United

:25:48.:25:51.

Nations systems, not just on the European Convention. This

:25:52.:25:55.

commission's focus is testing the bill against human rights standards

:25:55.:25:58.

and not the politics of welfare reform. The Commission can support

:25:58.:26:02.

the stated aim of the bill to assist people into work. The right

:26:02.:26:08.

of people to work is recognised in the European social charter. The

:26:08.:26:13.

measures included within the bill intended to assist and encourage

:26:13.:26:18.

individuals in exercising the work however must take into account the

:26:18.:26:22.

particular circumstances of the individual. On the issue of

:26:22.:26:32.
:26:32.:26:33.

sanctions, paragraphs 28 to 38, we have raised concerns on the

:26:33.:26:37.

potential for the sanctions regime relating to the various work-

:26:37.:26:44.

related requirements, our concerns are about these being imposed

:26:44.:26:49.

unduly harshly with the result that an individual may become destitute.

:26:49.:26:53.

The bill does contain numerous safeguards that the sanctions

:26:53.:26:57.

should not be imposed without good reason. And that those who have had

:26:57.:27:02.

a sanction imposed upon them may apply for a hardship payment. But

:27:02.:27:06.

our concerns about this still remain. It says here as part of the

:27:06.:27:10.

process for bringing the bill to the Executive, my department's

:27:10.:27:19.

already conducted a full analysis of the proposals contained. Then it

:27:19.:27:25.

goes on to detail the various articles. But I finish - the

:27:25.:27:29.

department's view and mine is that the bill is compatible with the

:27:29.:27:37.

Convention rights as defined in Section 1. That view has been

:27:37.:27:43.

confirmed by the department's solicitors office. Yet you are

:27:43.:27:46.

concerned about the absence of detailed human rights analysis of

:27:46.:27:50.

the bill and its potential implications. Now, either you are

:27:50.:27:54.

right, or he is right? We are not disputing the Minister has

:27:54.:27:58.

undertaken a human rights analysis. In fact, we have noted he has made

:27:58.:28:02.

that remark to the Assembly. The only thing we are drawing to the

:28:02.:28:05.

committee's attention is has the committee seen sight of that impact

:28:05.:28:12.

analysis? Also, with regard... we seen sight? No, we haven't.

:28:12.:28:18.

you requested that? No, we haven't. The Commission did meet with the

:28:18.:28:21.

Minister when ever the Welfare Reform Bill was passing through

:28:21.:28:24.

Westminster and it was made clear at that stage to both the Minister

:28:24.:28:28.

and his officials that the Commission was willing to engage at

:28:28.:28:31.

whatever level it saw fit but in the interim period there has been

:28:31.:28:36.

no approach made by the department. Have you approached the department

:28:36.:28:40.

yourselves? No, we have not. Sammy Douglas and David Russell

:28:40.:28:41.

ending that look at committee business.

:28:41.:28:45.

That's it from Stormont Today for this week, but do make a point of

:28:45.:28:47.

A political programme focusing on the day's events at the Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive. Mark Carruthers is the guide through the corridors of power at Stormont, and is joined by key people from decision makers to opinion formers to make the experience enlightening and entertaining.


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