Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill
to be moved
After Clause 25
Insert the following new Clause—
(1) The Northern Ireland Act 1998 is amended as follows.
(2) Omit sections 16A (appointment of First Minister, deputy First Minister
and Northern Ireland Ministers following Assembly election, 16B
(vacancies in the office of First Minister or deputy First Minister) and 16C
(sections 16A and 16B: supplementary).
(3) Before section 17 (Ministerial offices) insert—
(1) Each Assembly shall, within a period of six weeks beginning with
its first meeting, elect from among its members the First Minister
and deputy First Minister.
(2) Each candidate for either office must stand for election jointly with
a candidate for the other office.
(3) Two candidates standing jointly shall not be elected to the two
offices without the support of a majority of the members voting in
the election, a majority of the designated Nationalists voting and a
majority of the designated Unionists voting.
(4) The First Minister and deputy First Minister—
(a) shall not take up office until each of them has affirmed the
terms of the pledge of office; and
(b) subject to the provisions of this Part, shall hold office until
the conclusion of the next election for First Minister and
deputy First Minister.
(5) 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
(b) during any vacancy in that office arising otherwise than
under subsection (7)(a);
but a person shall not have power to act by virtue of paragraph (a)
for a continuous period exceeding six weeks.
(6) The First Minister or the deputy First Minister—
(a) may at any time resign by notice in writing to the Presiding
(b) shall cease to hold office if he or she ceases to be a member
of the Assembly otherwise than by virtue of a dissolution.
(7) 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
(b) may continue to exercise the functions of his or her office
until the election required by subsection (8).
(8) Where the offices of the First Minister and the deputy First Minister
become vacant at any time an election shall be held under this
section to fill the vacancies within a period of six weeks beginning
with that time.
(9) Standing orders may make provision with respect to the holding of
elections under this section.
(10) In this Act “the pledge of office” means the pledge of office which,
together with the code of conduct to which it refers, is set out in
Annex A to Strand One of the Belfast Agreement (the text of which
Annex is reproduced in Schedule 4).””