Page last updated at 12:58 GMT, Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Employment and learning committee

The committee for employment and learning met in closed session on 2 December 2009 to receive a briefing from departmental officials on the review of teacher education.

Members also received a briefing from officials on proposed amendments to the Employment Bill.

During the public session, the committee had a briefing on the December monitoring round - the system for analysing projected departmental spending - from Andrew Hamilton, the deputy secretary, and Trevor Connolly, director of finance and European division.

Mr Hamilton said there had not been a significant change in projections since the last monitoring round in September.

He added that there was "not an awful lot of point of making bids (for money) given the financial position of the block (Northern Ireland block grant) as a whole".

"The main focus is making sure the resources that we have are in the right place to match the expenditure," he said.

However, committee chair Sue Ramsey and deputy chair Tom Buchanan questioned the wisdom of the department not making bids to fund capital programmes.

Mr Buchanan said: "It is the responsibility of this department to continue to put in capital bids for that, albeit that we may not always be successful, but that should never stop us putting in the bid."

Department of Agriculture officials Peter Toner and David Millar returned to the issue of the Employment Bill amendments.

They are designed to protect the wage entitlements of agricultural workers and tighten legislation governing penalties for employers who persistently underpay employees.

Employment and learning committee membership

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