Did you mean Edwin roots?
Edwin Poots: As mentioned, the dredging of some of these rivers is absolutely vital to reducing the levels of Lough Neagh. It is unacceptable that this situation continues, and that needs to be addressed urgently. I know farmers who have had livestock, particularly sheep, washed away in the River Lagan basin. What compensation is the Minister looking at making available to those farmers?
Edwin Poots: The advice from the civil servants is that we cannot proceed. Once the civil servants arrive at some different conclusion, that is a decision for the Executive and not for me as Minister. It is a controversial decision and therefore requires the entire Executive's support. I can confirm that I will not be breaking the ministerial code by following your suggestions.
Edwin Poots: If we look at the prices that farmers receive for milk, meat, lamb and cereals, we see that the prices for all of those products are up. Prices in the pig sector are down, and the chicken sector has proven to be stable. Since Brexit, all those prices have gone up. I would have thought that the Member would welcome that.
Edwin Poots: I have little to add. The appeals mechanism and the new licensing system will benefit the whole of Northern Ireland with regard to the sustainable use of marine resources. I thank the Chairperson and members of the Committee for their support for the motion. Question put and agreed to. Resolved: That the draft Marine Licensing (Appeals) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011 be approved.
Alex Maskey: Further to that, I advise the Assembly that Edwin Poots MLA, as nominating officer for the DUP, nominated Paul Frew MLA as Minister for the Economy and Ms Michelle McIlveen MLA as Minister of Education. Mr Frew and Ms McIlveen each accepted the nomination and affirmed the Pledge of Office in my presence and that of the Chief Executive at 11.00 am.
Edwin Poots: Can the Minister enlighten us a little on the new non-statutory advisory body? There is already a substantial amount of money being expended on the North/South body itself. How much is this non-statutory advisory body going to cost? How many members will it have and who will they be? Is it going to be more jobs for the boys?
Edwin Poots: The Northern Ireland Environment Agency currently raises £6·8 million revenue from environmental regulation and licensing regimes and through admissions and retail sales at state-care monuments, café franchises at country parks, grazing rent, site leases and other miscellaneous commercial activities. To examine the potential for further revenue-raising options, the agency has established a...
Edwin Poots: It is certainly the case that we want procurement to be open and transparent throughout the system. The Business Services Organisation will carry out much of that work for trusts. Where trusts are engaged in direct procurement, we want everything to be done in a way that ensures that they have public confidence and deliver best value for money for the public.
Edwin Poots: When the Minister reviews all these matters, will she consider taking away from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) the authority for cross-compliance checking? It is carrying out its duties in such a way that it is damaging farmers' health and mental health, and it is driving farmers to attempt suicide. The anger in the farming community towards NIEA is palpable.
Edwin Poots: Does the Minister accept that it is very difficult to have specific research projects to assist the agriculture industry when research is continually cut? Will she agree to look once again at the research sector and follow what they are doing in Scotland and the Republic of Ireland and identify greater levels of resource to ensure that there is qualitative agriculture research?
Edwin Poots: Thank you for drawing me to that, Mr Deputy Speaker. Does the Minister accept that his case lacks robustness? Does he also accept that he will cause immense pain, hurt, anxiety and anguish to those who now use the family court in Lisburn but will be sent to the mayhem of Laganside, which is already bursting at the seams in the mornings?
Edwin Poots: Is it not a mark of shame on the Prison Service that so many prison officers are retired on medical grounds? Given the Prison Service's duty of care to its officers, is it appropriate that people coming out of hospital are, within a week of coming out, being harassed and harangued about getting back to work, when they have a serious illness?
Edwin Poots: Does the Minister recognise that over 2,700 regulations have been imposed on the agricultural community in carrying out its duties by the European Union? That is around one for every week that we have been in the European Union. Post-Brexit, can we look at having an enablement culture for the production of food, as opposed to the regulatory one that currently exists?
Mitchel McLaughlin: This is the first of three motions on Committee membership. As with similar motions, it will be treated as a business motion. Therefore, there will be no debate. Resolved: That Mr Edwin Poots be appointed to the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development; that Mr Sydney Anderson replace Miss Michelle McIlveen as a member of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development; that Mr...
Edwin Poots: Will the Minister indicate if discussions took place about the mechanism to be employed in the analysis of need, and will he confirm that the Robson index will not be used in distributing the Peace II money as it is now nine years old, completely outdated and has no relevance to the current situation? (Mr Deputy Speaker [Sir John Gorman] in the Chair)
Edwin Poots: The Committee of the Centre welcomes the opportunity to be able to conduct its business more efficiently, as a result of the Standing Orders being amended. The situation was, indeed, an anomalous one, in that the Committee could not deal with issues coming from the Office of the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister without a motion being put before the Assembly.
Edwin Poots: I thank the Minister for making available the communiqué. The communiqué from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development was not available when I called into the Library. Sometimes they are more revealing than Ministers’ statements. It should also be noted that the all-Ireland council meetings are moving full steam ahead, following a slight blip when the Ulster Unionist Party...
Edwin Poots: The Minister’s statement declares that through work with, and through, existing agencies, the body’s strategic goals will be translated into a number of activities including the development of an all-island, or all-Ireland, business model and an electronic all-island, or all-Ireland, business directory. Does the Minister accept that he is wholly implementing the harmonisation aspects...
Edwin Poots: Can the Minister confirm that there are problems with the site proposed by Translink and that meetings have taken place between it and the local council? Are we set on the site which Translink currently wants, or is there a possibility of identifying other sites which may be closer to the railway station and more conducive to traffic flows in Lisburn city centre?
Edwin Poots: Our response thus far has been related to workload. That will continue to be the case. Therefore, if workload increases, we will keep more planning officers. It is as simple as that. I have no desire to lose planning officers. If we have the opportunity to retain a greater number of planning officers than is proposed, I will be delighted to do that.