Official Report: Minutes of Evidence

Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, meeting on Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Members present for all or part of the proceedings:

Mr Patsy McGlone (Chairperson)
Mr Conor Murphy (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Gordon Dunne
Ms M Fearon
Mr Paul Givan
Mr William Humphrey
Mr Fearghal McKinney


Mr Keith Brown, Department for the Economy
Mr Richard Scott, Department for the Economy

Credit Unions and Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Bill: DETI Officials

The Chairperson (Mr McGlone): I welcome departmental officials Mr Keith Brown, principal officer, and Mr Richard Scott, staff officer, from the company law branch.

There were issues raised in correspondence from Co-operatives UK regarding clause 8 — referred to as "section 8" in their correspondence — and the five policy recommendations made by Co-operatives UK. How do you see those recommendations tick-tacking or otherwise with the legislation?

Mr Keith Brown (Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment): Thank you, Chair. Co-operatives UK raised a few issues, and you can see from our responses that most of the suggested changes will involve working with Co-operatives UK after the Bill is passed. We have to draw a line in the sand at some stage in order to get the Bill through the Assembly.

Many of the issues they raise are operational. The legislation does not affect that. It is how the registrar will treat co-ops and so on. We have been talking with the Financial Conduct Authority because a few issues were raised with it. They are due to start their response at the end of this month, so we cannot pre-empt anything on that in this session.

We wrote to Mr Wright of Co-operatives UK. It our intention to follow that up with a discussion and hopefully agree how we take some of the issues forward.

The Chairperson (Mr McGlone): They are happy enough if the Department gives a commitment to review the legislation in a couple of years' time to see how the mechanics that you referred to work out and work through. A commitment to do that is, perhaps, something that the Minister could deal with on the Floor of the Assembly.

Mr Brown: I will certainly put that to the Minister. We have already committed to a review of credit union elements, following a recommendation by the Committee, and it would be our intention to do a full review of principal legislation at the same time.

The Chairperson (Mr McGlone): That could be incorporated into it.

Mr Brown: We hope to deal with some of the issues raised pretty much after our Bill gets Royal Assent.

The Chairperson (Mr McGlone): Good. That is heartening to hear. I am sure that Co-operatives UK would be happy enough with that.

One other issue was raised with us. The Examiner of Statutory Rules indicated that, while drafting his report on the delegated powers memorandum, he will consider whether regulations under clause 15(2) should be subject to draft affirmative procedure where they amend primary legislation and subject to negative resolution in other cases. Clause 15(4) makes all such regulations subject to negative resolution. What is the Department's view on that, and is it inclined to amend legislation to comply with that? Has that hit your radar yet as a potential issue?

Mr Brown: Yes, we have been looking at this and have been discussing it with drafting counsel. We do not see an issue with it, but it is going through the machinations in the Department, so, hopefully, you will have a response next week.

The Chairperson (Mr McGlone): Great. Thank you for that. We have dealt with this an awful lot and covered it well. I have to say, "Thank you" to the officials from the Department and those who made themselves available to take us through this. That worked incredibly well, as it should, being briefed in an informed way on issues as they arose, so I thank you for that. Pass that on to your colleagues, please. Thanks for being with us today.

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