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Session 1998-99
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Northern Ireland Bill
 
 

 
 
A

B I L L

TO

Make provision for the suspension in certain circumstances of devolved government in Northern Ireland and the exercise of certain functions conferred by or under Part V of the Northern Ireland Act 1998; and for connected purposes.

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-
 

Suspension of devolved government etc.     1. - (1) This section applies where, at any time after Parts II and III of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 ("the 1998 Act") come into force-
 
 
    (a) the Decommissioning Commission reports to the Secretary of State that there has been-
 
      (i) a failure to meet a commitment relating to decommissioning; or
 
      (ii) a failure to take, in accordance with the Joint Statement, any step referred to in paragraph 5 of that Statement which is specified by the Commission; or
 
    (b) the Secretary of State has reason to believe, after such consultation as he considers necessary, that there has been a failure to meet a commitment relating to devolution.
      (2) The Secretary of State shall make a suspension order, that is to say, an order providing that during the suspension period-
 
 
    (a) no Act shall be passed by the Assembly and, except as provided by section 3, neither the Assembly nor any committee of the Assembly shall hold any meetings or conduct any business;
 
    (b) no person shall hold office or be elected, nominated or appointed as a Minister or junior Minister, or as a chairman or deputy chairman of a statutory committee;
 
    (c) none of the following shall be exercisable-
 
      (i) the functions conferred by section 52 or 53 of the 1998 Act (North-South Ministerial Council and British-Irish Council); and
 
      (ii) the functions conferred by section 54 of that Act (British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference); and
 
    (d) no functions shall be conferred under section 55(2)(b) of that Act (implementation bodies).
      (3) The provisions of Schedule 1 to this Act shall have effect with respect to the exercise of legislative, executive and other functions in relation to Northern Ireland during a suspension period.
 
      (4) As soon as practicable after making a suspension order, the Secretary of State shall take steps to initiate a review under the Validation, Implementation and Review section of the Belfast Agreement.
 
      (5) A suspension order-
 
 
    (a) may make such consequential, incidental and supplementary modifications of enactments as appear to the Secretary of State to be necessary or expedient; and
 
    (b) shall be made by statutory instrument which shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.
      (6) In this section-
 
 
    "commitment" means a commitment arising under the Belfast Agreement or the Joint Statement;
 
    "the Decommissioning Commission" means the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning established by agreement between Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and the Government of Ireland;
 
    "the Joint Statement" means the joint statement issued by Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and the Government of Ireland on 2nd July 1999, the text of which is set out in Schedule 2 to this Act.
The suspension period.     2. - (1) The suspension period, in relation to a suspension order, shall be the period beginning with the making of the order and ending with such day as the Secretary of State may by order appoint.
 
      (2) In deciding whether to make an order under subsection (1), the Secretary of State shall take into account any vote under section 3(3) which is passed with cross-community support.
 
      (3) An order under subsection (1) may make such consequential, incidental and supplementary modifications of enactments as appear to the Secretary of State to be necessary or expedient.
 
      (4) The power to make an order under subsection (1) shall be exercisable by statutory instrument; and no order shall be made under that subsection unless either-
 
 
    (a) a draft of the order has been approved by resolution of each House of Parliament; or
 
    (b) the order declares that it appears to the Secretary of State to be expedient for the order to be made without a draft having been so approved.
      (5) An order under subsection (1), other than an order of which a draft has been approved by resolution of each House of Parliament-
 
 
    (a) shall be laid before Parliament after being made; and
 
    (b) if at the end of the period of forty days after the date on which it is made the order has not been approved by resolution of each House, shall then cease to have effect (but without prejudice to anything previously done under the order or to the making of a new order).
Meetings of Assembly during suspension period.     3. - (1) During a suspension period the Secretary of State shall call two meetings of the Assembly as required by subsections (2) and (3).
 
      (2) The first meeting shall be held within 7 days of the making of the suspension order; and at that meeting the Assembly shall debate, but not vote on-
 
 
    (a) the situation which led to the making of the suspension order; and
 
    (b) the matters which fall to be reviewed under the Validation, Implementation and Review section of the Belfast Agreement.
      (3) The second meeting shall be held within 7 days of the conclusion of the review under that section of that Agreement; and at that meeting the Assembly shall debate, and vote on, any action proposed to be taken in consequence of the review.
 
      (4) For the purposes of this section the Assembly's standing orders shall have effect subject to such modifications as the Secretary of State may determine.
 
Restoration of devolved government.     4. - (1) This section applies where a suspension period is brought to an end under section 2(1).
 
      (2) If each of the persons who, immediately before the making of the suspension order, held office as First Minister and deputy First Minister remains eligible to hold his office, those persons shall resume their offices.
 
      (3) In any other case, section 16 of the 1998 Act shall apply as if the reference to the Assembly's first meeting included a reference to the ending of the suspension period.
 
      (4) If any persons who, immediately before the making of the suspension order, held office as-
 
 
    (a) Northern Ireland Ministers;
 
    (b) junior Ministers; or
 
    (c) chairmen or deputy chairmen of statutory committees,
  remain eligible to hold their offices, they shall resume their offices.
 
      (5) If, after the application of subsection (4), there are any vacancies in any such offices as are mentioned in that subsection, those vacancies shall be filled-
 
 
    (a) in the case of Northern Ireland Ministers, under section 18(10) of the 1998 Act;
 
    (b) in the case of junior Ministers, under the provision for the filling of vacancies made by virtue of section 19(3)(a) of that Act; and
 
    (c) in the case of chairmen or deputy chairmen of statutory committees, under standing orders made by virtue of section 29(8) of that Act.
      (6) If any person who, immediately before the making of the suspension order, held office as a Northern Ireland Minister is ineligible to hold his office by reason of a resolution of the Assembly under section 30(2) of the 1998 Act-
 
 
    (a) subsections (4)(a) and (5)(a) shall not apply; and
 
    (b) the offices of all Northern Ireland Ministers shall be filled by applying subsections (2) to (6) of section 18 of the 1998 Act.
      (7) In this section "statutory committee" shall be construed in accordance with section 29 of the 1998 Act.
 
Implementation bodies.     5. - (1) If, during a suspension period, arrangements made under an agreement between Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and the Government of Ireland require any functions of an implementation body, so far as they relate to Northern Ireland, to be transferred to a Northern Ireland department, the Secretary of State shall by order transfer those functions to such a department.
 
      (2) If, after a suspension period has come to an end, arrangements made under such an agreement require any functions of a Northern Ireland department to be transferred to an implementation body, the Secretary of State shall by order transfer those functions to such a body.
 
      (3) An order under this section-
 
 
    (a) may make such consequential, supplementary and transitional modifications of enactments as appear to the Secretary of State to be necessary or expedient; and
 
    (b) shall be made by statutory instrument which shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.
      (4) In this section "implementation body" means any body which is or has at any time been an implementation body within the meaning of section 55 of the 1998 Act.
 
Short title, construction and commencement.     6. - (1) This Act may be cited as the Northern Ireland Act 1999.
 
      (2) In this Act-
 
 
    "the 1998 Act" means the Northern Ireland Act 1998;
 
    "enactment" includes any provision of an Act (including this Act), any provision of or of any instrument made under Northern Ireland legislation and any provision of subordinate legislation;
 
    "suspension order" shall be construed in accordance with section 1(2);
 
    "suspension period", in relation to a suspension order, shall be construed in accordance with section 2(1);
  and, unless the contrary intention appears, expressions which are also used in the 1998 Act have the same meanings as in that Act.
 
      (3) In reckoning the period mentioned in section 2(5) or paragraph 1(4) of Schedule 1 to this Act, no account shall be taken of any time during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued or during which both Houses are adjourned for more than four days.
 
      (4) This Act shall come into force on the day after that on which Parts II and III of the 1998 Act come into force.
 
 
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