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Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Bill


Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Bill
Part 1 — Preparations for restoration of devolved government

1

 

A

Bill

To

Make provision for preparations for the restoration of devolved government

in Northern Ireland in accordance with the St Andrews Agreement; to make

provision as to the consequences of compliance, or non-compliance, with the

St Andrews Agreement timetable; to amend the Northern Ireland Act 1998; to

make provision about district policing partnerships; to amend the Education

(Northern Ireland) Orders 1997 and 2006; 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:—

Part 1

Preparations for restoration of devolved government

1       

Preparations for restoration of devolved government

(1)   

There is to be an Assembly (referred to in this Act as “the Transitional

Assembly”)—

5

(a)   

whose members at any time are to be the persons who are at that time

members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and

(b)   

whose purpose is to take part in preparations for the restoration of

devolved government in Northern Ireland in accordance with the

St Andrews Agreement.

10

(2)   

Schedule 1 (provision about the Transitional Assembly) has effect.

(3)   

Nothing in this Act affects the operation of section 1 of the 2000 Act

(suspension of devolved government).

(4)   

But subsection (3) is subject to—

(a)   

paragraph 3 of Schedule 1,

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(b)   

paragraphs 2 and 4 of Schedule 2, and

(c)   

paragraphs 1 and 2 of Schedule 4.

 
HL Bill 854/2
 
 

Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Bill
Part 1 — Preparations for restoration of devolved government

2

 

2       

Compliance or non-compliance with St Andrews Agreement timetable

(1)   

If at any time before 25 March 2007 the Secretary of State considers that (were

Schedule 2 to come into force) there would be no reasonable prospect that each

of the Ministerial offices would be filled in accordance with paragraph 2 of that

Schedule, he may make an order bringing Schedule 3 into force on the day

5

following the day on which the order is made.

(2)   

If the Secretary of State does not make an order under subsection (1) before

25 March 2007—

(a)   

he must on that date make a restoration order providing for section 1 of

the 2000 Act to cease to have effect on 26 March 2007, and

10

(b)   

Schedule 2 shall come into force on 26 March 2007.

(3)   

Subsection (4) applies if—

(a)   

the Secretary of State makes a restoration order by virtue of subsection

(2), but

(b)   

it appears to him that one or more of the Ministerial offices has not been

15

filled in accordance with paragraph 2 of Schedule 2 by the end of

26 March 2007.

(4)   

Where this subsection applies—

(a)   

the Secretary of State must on 27 March 2007 make an order under the

2000 Act revoking the restoration order,

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(b)   

that order must state that it is made by virtue of subsection (3) and must

come into force on 28 March 2007, and

(c)   

Schedule 3 shall come into force on 28 March 2007.

(5)   

If the Secretary of State—

(a)   

makes a restoration order by virtue of subsection (2), and

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(b)   

does not make an order by virtue of subsection (3) revoking the

restoration order,

   

Schedule 4 shall come into force on 28 March 2007.

(6)   

An order under subsection (1) must be made by statutory instrument.

(7)   

Section 7(4) to (7) of the 2000 Act (affirmative resolution etc procedure) does

30

not apply in relation to an order made by virtue of subsection (2) or (3).

(8)   

In this section “the Ministerial offices” means—

(a)   

the offices of First Minister and deputy First Minister, and

(b)   

the Ministerial offices to be held by Northern Ireland Ministers.

3       

Next Northern Ireland Assembly election to be in March 2007 etc

35

(1)   

In section 31 of the 1998 Act (Northern Ireland Assembly: dates of elections and

dissolutions), for subsection (2) substitute—

“(2)   

The date of the poll for the election of the Assembly next following the

Assembly elected at the poll on 26 November 2003 shall be 7 March

2007; and the Assembly elected on 26 November 2003 shall be dissolved

40

on 30 January 2007.”

(2)   

Subsection (3) applies in respect of any vacancy in the membership of the

Northern Ireland Assembly which exists at any time between the passing of

 
 

Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Bill
Part 2 — Amendments of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 etc

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this Act and the date of the next election of the Assembly (whether the vacancy

occurred before or after the passing of this Act).

(3)   

Article 7 of the Northern Ireland Assembly (Elections) Order 2001 (S.I. 2001/

2599) does not apply in the case of such a vacancy.

4       

Remuneration of members of the Northern Ireland Assembly

5

(1)   

Subsection (2) has effect in relation to—

(a)   

the dissolution of the Northern Ireland Assembly on 30 January 2007,

and

(b)   

the Assembly election the poll for which is to be held on 7 March 2007

(“the next Assembly election”).

10

(2)   

Section 47 of the 1998 Act (remuneration of members) is to have effect as if, for

subsection (10) of that section, there were substituted—

“(10)   

For the purposes of this section, a person who is a member of the

Assembly immediately before the Assembly is dissolved shall be

treated—

15

(a)   

as if he were a member of the Assembly until the end of the day

which is the latest day for the delivery of nomination papers for

the next Assembly election; and

(b)   

if he is nominated as a candidate at the next Assembly election,

as if he were a member of the Assembly until the end of the day

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of the poll for that election.”

(3)   

Subsection (4) has effect in relation to persons returned as members of the

Northern Ireland Assembly at the next Assembly election.

(4)   

Section 47 of the 1998 Act is to have effect as if, for subsection (9)(a) of that

section, there were substituted—

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“(a)   

a person’s membership of the Assembly begins on the day on

which he takes his seat (following the next Assembly election)

in the Assembly established under section 1(1) of the Northern

Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2006 in accordance with

standing orders of that Assembly; and”.

30

Part 2

Amendments of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 etc

Ministerial conduct

5       

The Executive Committee and the Ministerial Code

(1)   

In section 20 of the 1998 Act (Executive Committee), after subsection (3)

35

insert—

“(4)   

The Committee shall also have the function of discussing and agreeing

upon—

(a)   

significant or controversial matters that are clearly outside the

scope of the agreed programme referred to in paragraph 20 of

40

Strand One of that Agreement;

 
 

Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Bill
Part 2 — Amendments of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 etc

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(b)   

significant or controversial matters that the First Minister and

deputy First Minister acting jointly have determined to be

matters that should be considered by the Executive

Committee.”

(2)   

After section 28 of the 1998 Act insert—

5

“Ministerial Code

28A     

Ministerial Code

(1)   

Without prejudice to the operation of section 24, a Minister or junior

Minister shall act in accordance with the provisions of the Ministerial

Code.

10

(2)   

In this section “the Ministerial Code” means—

(a)   

the Ministerial Code that becomes the Ministerial Code for the

purposes of this section by virtue of paragraph 4 of Schedule 1

to the Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2006 (as

from time to time amended in accordance with this section); or

15

(b)   

any replacement Ministerial Code prepared and approved in

accordance with this section (as from time to time amended in

accordance with this section).

(3)   

If at any time the Executive Committee—

(a)   

prepares draft amendments to the Ministerial Code; or

20

(b)   

prepares a draft Ministerial Code to replace the Ministerial

Code,

   

the First Minister and deputy First Minister acting jointly shall lay the

draft amendments or the draft Code before the Assembly for approval.

(4)   

A draft Ministerial Code or a draft amendment to the Code—

25

(a)   

shall not be approved by the Assembly without cross-

community support; and

(b)   

shall not take effect until so approved.

(5)   

The Ministerial Code must include provision for requiring Ministers or

junior Ministers to bring to the attention of the Executive Committee

30

any matter that ought, by virtue of section 20(3) or (4), to be considered

by the Committee.

(6)   

The Ministerial Code must include provision for a procedure to enable

any Minister or junior Minister to ask the Executive Committee to

determine whether any decision that he is proposing to take, or has

35

taken, relates to a matter that ought, by virtue of section 20(3) or (4), to

be considered by the Committee.

(7)   

The Ministerial Code must also include provision as to the procedures

of the Executive Committee with respect to—

(a)   

the taking of decisions; and

40

(b)   

consideration by the Committee of decision papers that are to

be considered by the North-South Ministerial Council or the

British-Irish Council.

(8)   

The Ministerial Code must in particular provide—

 
 

Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Bill
Part 2 — Amendments of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 etc

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(a)   

that it is the duty of the chairmen of the Executive Committee to

seek to secure that decisions of the Executive Committee are

reached by consensus wherever possible;

(b)   

that, if consensus cannot be reached, a vote may be taken; and

(c)   

that, if any three members of the Executive Committee require

5

the vote on a particular matter which is to be voted on by the

Executive Committee to require cross-community support, any

vote on that matter in the Executive Committee shall require

cross-community support in the Executive Committee.

(9)   

The Ministerial Code may include such other provisions as the

10

Executive Committee thinks fit.

(10)   

Without prejudice to the operation of section 24, a Minister or junior

Minister has no Ministerial authority to take any decision in

contravention of a provision of the Ministerial Code made under

subsection (5).”

15

6       

Power to refer Ministerial decision to Executive Committee

After section 28A of the 1998 Act insert—

“Power to refer Ministerial decision to Executive Committee

28B     

Power to refer Ministerial decision to Executive Committee

(1)   

This section applies if 30 members petition the Assembly expressing

20

concern that a decision taken by a Minister or junior Minister (“the

Ministerial decision”)—

(a)   

may have been taken in contravention of section 28A(1); or

(b)   

relates to a matter of public importance.

(2)   

But this section does not apply if the Ministerial decision has

25

previously been the subject of a reference under this section.

(3)   

If the Presiding Officer, after consulting the political parties whose

members hold seats in the Assembly, certifies that the Ministerial

decision relates to a matter of public importance, he shall refer the

decision to the Executive Committee for its consideration.

30

(4)   

Having considered the reference, the Executive Committee shall notify

the Presiding Officer—

(a)   

whether or not the decision was, in its view, taken in

contravention of section 28A(1);

(b)   

whether or not the decision relates, in its view, to a significant

35

or controversial matter; and

(c)   

as to any action that the Executive Committee proposes to take,

or has taken, in relation to the decision.

(5)   

No reference may be made under this section after the end of the period

of seven days beginning with—

40

(a)   

the day on which the Ministerial decision was taken; or

(b)   

if appropriate, the day on which the decision was notified to the

Assembly.

 
 

Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Bill
Part 2 — Amendments of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 etc

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(6)   

Any consideration by the Executive Committee of a Ministerial

decision under this section must be completed before the end of the

period of seven days beginning with the day on which the reference is

made.

(7)   

Standing orders shall make provision with respect to the procedure to

5

be followed—

(a)   

in petitioning the Assembly under subsection (1); and

(b)   

in making a reference under this section.

(8)   

The periods mentioned in subsections (5) and (6) shall be computed by

reference only to days on which the Assembly sits.”

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7       

Pledge of office

(1)   

In the pledge of office set out in Schedule 4 to the 1998 Act, after paragraph (c)

insert—

“(ca)   

to promote the interests of the whole community represented

in the Northern Ireland Assembly towards the goal of a

15

shared future;

(cb)   

to participate fully in the Executive Committee, the North-

South Ministerial Council and the British-Irish Council;

(cc)   

to observe the joint nature of the offices of First Minister and

deputy First Minister;

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(cd)   

to uphold the rule of law based as it is on the fundamental

principles of fairness, impartiality and democratic

accountability, including support for policing and the courts

as set out in paragraph 6 of the St Andrews Agreement;”.

(2)   

At the end of the pledge of office set out in that Schedule insert—

25

         

“Paragraph 6 of the St Andrews Agreement says:

   

“We believe that the essential elements of support for law

and order include endorsing fully the Police Service of

Northern Ireland and the criminal justice system, actively

encouraging everyone in the community to co-operate fully

30

with the PSNI in tackling crime in all areas and actively

supporting all the policing and criminal justice institutions,

including the Policing Board.””

Ministerial appointments

8       

First Minister, deputy First Minister and Northern Ireland Ministers

35

(1)   

For section 16 of the 1998 Act (First Minister and deputy First Minister)

substitute—

“16A    

Appointment of First Minister, deputy First Minister and Northern

Ireland Ministers following Assembly election

(1)   

This section applies where an Assembly is elected under section 31 or

40

32.

(2)   

All Northern Ireland Ministers shall cease to hold office.

 
 

Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Bill
Part 2 — Amendments of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 etc

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(3)   

Within a period of seven days beginning with the first meeting of the

Assembly—

(a)   

the offices of First Minister and deputy First Minister shall be

filled by applying subsections (4) to (7); and

(b)   

the Ministerial offices to be held by Northern Ireland Ministers

5

shall be filled by applying section 18(2) to (6).

(4)   

The nominating officer of the largest political party of the largest

political designation shall nominate a member of the Assembly to be

the First Minister.

(5)   

The nominating officer of the largest political party of the second

10

largest political designation shall nominate a member of the Assembly

to be the deputy First Minister.

(6)   

If the persons nominated do not take up office within a period specified

in standing orders, further nominations shall be made under

subsections (4) and (5).

15

(7)   

Subsections (4) to (6) shall be applied as many times as may be

necessary to secure that the offices of First Minister and deputy First

Minister are filled.

(8)   

But no person may take up office as First Minister, deputy First

Minister or Northern Ireland Minister by virtue of this section after the

20

end of the period mentioned in subsection (3) (see further section 32(3)).

(9)   

The persons nominated under subsections (4) and (5) shall not take up

office until each of them has affirmed the terms of the pledge of office.

(10)   

Subject to the provisions of this Part, the First Minister and the deputy

First Minister shall hold office until immediately before those offices

25

are next filled by virtue of this section.

(11)   

The holder of the office of First Minister or deputy First Minister may

by notice in writing to the Presiding Officer designate a Northern

Ireland Minister to exercise the functions of that office—

(a)   

during any absence or incapacity of the holder; or

30

(b)   

during any vacancy in that office arising otherwise than under

section 16B(2),

   

but a person shall not have power to act by virtue of paragraph (a) for

a continuous period exceeding six weeks.

(12)   

This section shall be construed in accordance with, and is subject to,

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section 16C.

16B     

Vacancies in the office of First Minister or deputy First Minister

(1)   

The First Minister or the deputy First Minister—

(a)   

may at any time resign by notice in writing to the Presiding

Officer; and

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(b)   

shall cease to hold office if he ceases to be a member of the

Assembly otherwise than by virtue of a dissolution.

(2)   

If either the First Minister or the deputy First Minister ceases to hold

office at any time, whether by resignation or otherwise, the other—

(a)   

shall also cease to hold office at that time; but

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