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Session 1997-98
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Arrangement of Clauses (Contents)

Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Bill [H.L.]
     The Bill amends the law of Northern Ireland relating to public processions. It implements recommendations contained in the Report of the Independent Review of Parades and Marches presented to the Secretary of State in January 1997.
     Clause 1 provides for the establishment of a Parades Commission. Schedule 1 makes provision about the membership of the Commission and contains other ancillary provisions relating to the Commission.
     Clause 2 sets out the functions of the Commission in relation to public processions. The Commission has a duty to promote greater public understanding of issues concerning public processions. It will be able to mediate directly on disputed public processions and promote mediation as a means of resolving disputes on public processions. The Commission will also have a power to issue determinations with respect to particular disputed public processions, taking over from the police in this respect.
     Clause 3 requires the Commission to issue a Code of Conduct which will provide guidance for organisers of public processions as well as regulating the conduct of those participating in public processions. Clause 4 requires the Commission to issue a set of procedural rules which will set out the procedures to be followed by the Commission and others in their dealings with the Commission. Clause 5 requires the Commission to issue a set of guidelines to which the Commission is to have regard in exercising its functions in relation to the imposition of conditions on processions. Schedule 2 contains supplementary provisions about the issuing, bringing into operation and revision of the Code of Conduct, procedural rules and guidelines.
     Clause 6 requires the organiser of a public procession to give 28 days' notice of the procession to the police. It is an offence to organise or take part in a procession if notice has not been duly given.
     Clause 7 enables the Commission to issue determinations imposing conditions on public processions. The conditions may include re-routing the procession. In coming to a determination the Commission must have regard to the guidelines which will in particular deal with certain factors set out in subsection (6). Failure to comply with a condition imposed by the Commission is an offence. Clause 8 provides that the Secretary of State may, on the Chief Constable's application, review the Commission's determination and revoke, amend or confirm the determination having regard to the same guidelines as the Commission. Clause 9 provides that nothing in clause 7 or 8 affects the common law powers of the police to take action to deal with or prevent a breach of the peace.
     Clause 10 confers power on the Secretary of State, having regard to a list of factors, to make orders prohibiting public processions. An order may prohibit a particular procession, a class or description of procession or all processions and may be effective for a period up to 28 days. It is an offence to contravene such an order.
     Clause 11 confers power on the Secretary of State to provide by order for the registration of bands. It is an offence to take part in a public procession as a member of a band which is unregistered or does not comply with the conditions of registration. Clause 12 empowers the police to require the surrender of alcohol by persons at, or in the vicinity of, or travelling to, a public procession. Failure to comply with any such requirement is an offence. Clause 13 makes it an offence to hinder or obstruct a lawful public procession. Clause 14 confers on the police power to arrest without warrant anyone suspected of committing an offence under the Bill.
     Clause 15 makes provision about orders and regulations under the Bill. Clause 16 deals with interpretation. Clause 17 and Schedules 3 and 4 provide for amendments and repeals. Clause 18 deals with the Bill's short title, commencement and extent.
 Financial effects of the Bill
      The total annual running cost of the Commission is estimated at £1.2 million.
 Effects of the Bill on public service manpower
     There will be a small rise in public service manpower. The Commission will have a secretariat, unlikely to exceed seven, to assist it in its duties.
 Business compliance cost assessment
     There are no cost implications for business. However the Bill will have cost implications for some voluntary or charitable organisations. A full compliance cost assessment for the Bill is available to the public from the Northern Ireland Office at 11 Millbank, London SW1A 4QE or Stormont House, Stormont, Belfast BT4 3ST.
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© Parliamentary copyright 1997
Prepared 10 December 1997