Northern Ireland Bill - continued        House of Commons

back to previous text
 
  PART III
  EXECUTIVE AUTHORITIES
 
Authorities
First Minister and deputy First Minister.     14. - (1) The Assembly shall elect from among its members the First Minister and the 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 the deputy First Minister shall not take up office until each of them has affirmed the terms of the pledge of office.
 
      (5) The First Minister or the deputy First Minister-
 
 
    (a) may at any time resign by notice in writing to the Presiding Officer; and
 
    (b) shall cease to hold office if he ceases to be a member of the Assembly otherwise than by virtue of a dissolution.
      (6) If either the First Minister or the deputy First Minister ceases to hold office, whether by resignation or otherwise, the other shall also cease to hold office.
 
      (7) Where the offices of the First Minister and the deputy First Minister are vacant, an election shall be held under this section to fill the vacancies.
 
      (8) Standing orders may make provision with respect to the holding of elections under this section.
 
      (9) In this Act "the pledge of office" means the pledge of office set out in Annex A to Strand One of the Belfast Agreement (the text of which Annex is reproduced in Schedule 5).
 
Northern Ireland Ministers.     15. - (1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3)-
 
 
    (a) the number of Northern Ireland Ministers; and
 
    (b) the functions to be exercisable by virtue of each Ministerial office (which may include functions as the head of a Northern Ireland department),
  shall be determined by the First Minister and the deputy First Minister acting jointly.
 
      (2) A determination under subsection (1) shall not have effect unless it is approved by a resolution of the Assembly passed with cross-community support.
 
      (3) The number of Northern Ireland Ministers shall not exceed 10 or such greater number as the Secretary of State may by order provide.
 
      (4) The nominating officer of the political party for which the formula in subsection (8) gives the highest figure may select a Ministerial office and nominate a person to hold it who is a member of the party and of the Assembly.
 
      (5) If a person nominated under subsection (4) or this subsection does not take up the Ministerial office within a period specified in standing orders, the nominating officer may nominate another person to hold the office who is a member of the party and of the Assembly.
 
      (6) If a nominating officer does not exercise the power conferred by subsection (4) or (5) within a period specified in standing orders, the power conferred by subsection (4) shall become exercisable by the nominating officer of the political party for which the formula in subsection (8) gives the next highest figure.
 
      (7) Subsections (4) to (6) shall be applied as many times as may be necessary to secure that each of the Ministerial offices is filled.
 
      (8) The formula is-

S


1 + M
where- 
 
    S = the number of seats in the Assembly which are held by members of the party;
 
    M = the number of Ministerial offices (if any) which are held by members of the party.
      (9) Where the figures given by the formula for two or more political parties are equal, each of those figures shall be recalculated with S being equal to the number of first preference votes cast for the party at the last general election of members of the Assembly.
 
      (10) The holding of office as First Minister or deputy First Minister shall not prevent a person being nominated to hold a Ministerial office.
 
      (11) A Northern Ireland Minister shall not take up office until he has affirmed the terms of the pledge of office.
 
      (12) A Northern Ireland Minister shall cease to hold office if-
 
 
    (a) he resigns by notice in writing to the First Minister and the deputy First Minister;
 
    (b) he ceases to be a member of the Assembly otherwise than by virtue of a dissolution; or
 
    (c) he is dismissed by the nominating officer who nominated him (or his successor) and the Presiding Officer is notified of his dismissal.
      (13) Where a Ministerial office is vacant, the vacancy shall be filled by applying subsections (4) to (9) within a period specified in standing orders.
 
      (14) Where-
 
 
    (a) the Assembly has resolved under section 23(2) that a political party does not enjoy its confidence; and
 
    (b) the party's period of exclusion has not come to an end,
  the party shall be disregarded for the purposes of subsections (4) to (9) as applied by or under subsection (13).
 
      (15) In this section "nominating officer"-
 
 
    (a) in relation to a registered political party, means the registered nominating officer;
 
    (b) in relation to any other political party, means the person who appears to the Presiding Officer to be the leader of the party, or an officer nominated by that person for the purposes of this section.
The Executive Committee.     16. - (1) There shall be an Executive Committee of the Assembly consisting of the First Minister, the deputy First Minister and the Northern Ireland Ministers.
 
      (2) The First Minister and the deputy First Minister shall be chairmen of the Committee.
 
      (3) The Committee shall have the functions set out in paragraphs 19 and 20 of Strand One of the Belfast Agreement.
 
Northern Ireland departments.     17. - (1) Subject to subsection (2), the Northern Ireland departments existing on the appointed day shall be the Northern Ireland departments for the purposes of this Act.
 
      (2) Provision may be made by Act of the Assembly for establishing new Northern Ireland departments or dissolving existing ones.
 
 
Functions
Exercise by Ministers and departments.     18. - (1) The executive power in Northern Ireland shall continue to be vested in Her Majesty.
 
      (2) As respects transferred matters, the prerogative and other executive functions of Her Majesty in relation to Northern Ireland shall be exercisable on Her Majesty's behalf by the First Minister and the deputy First Minister acting jointly.
 
      (3) If and to the extent that those Ministers so determine, those functions shall be exercised through the Northern Ireland Ministers and the Northern Ireland departments.
 
Community law and Convention rights.     19. - (1) A Minister or Northern Ireland department has no power to make any subordinate legislation, or to do any other act, so far as the legislation or act is incompatible with any of the Convention rights or with Community law.
 
      (2) In this section and sections 20, 21 and 23, "Minister" means the First Minister, the deputy First Minister or a Northern Ireland Minister.
 
International obligations.     20. - (1) If the Secretary of State considers that any action proposed to be taken by a Minister or Northern Ireland department would be incompatible with any international obligations, he may by order direct that the proposed action shall not be taken.
 
      (2) If the Secretary of State considers that any action capable of being taken by a Minister or Northern Ireland department is required for the purpose of giving effect to any international obligations, he may by order direct that the action shall be taken.
 
      (3) In subsections (1) and (2), "action" includes making, confirming or approving subordinate legislation and, in subsection (2), includes introducing a Bill in the Assembly.
 
      (4) If any subordinate legislation made or which could be revoked by a Minister or Northern Ireland department contains-
 
 
    (a) a provision which the Secretary of State considers would be incompatible with any international obligations; or
 
    (b) a provision relating to an excepted matter which is within the legislative competence of the Assembly, but which the Secretary of State considers would have an adverse effect on the operation of an enactment as it applies to excepted matters,
  the Secretary of State may by order revoke the legislation.
 
      (5) An order under subsection (4) shall recite the reasons for revoking the legislation.
 
Agency arrangements between UK and NI departments.     21. - (1) Arrangements may be made between any department of the Government of the United Kingdom and any Northern Ireland department for any functions of one of them to be discharged by, or by officers of, the other.
 
      (2) No such arrangements shall affect the responsibility of the department on whose behalf any functions are discharged.
 
      (3) In this section-
 
 
    (a) references to a department of the Government of the United Kingdom include references to any Minister of the Crown; and
 
    (b) references to a Northern Ireland department include references to a Minister.
      (4) This section shall have effect in relation to the Post Office as it has effect in relation to a department of the Government of the United Kingdom.
 
 
Miscellaneous
Statutory committees.     22. - (1) This section has effect for the purpose of implementing paragraphs 8 and 9 of Strand One of the Belfast Agreement.
 
      (2) Standing orders shall make provision-
 
 
    (a) for establishing committees of members of the Assembly ("statutory committees") to advise and assist each Northern Ireland Minister in the formulation of policy with respect to matters within his responsibilities as a Minister; and
 
    (b) for enabling a committee to be so established either in relation to a single Northern Ireland Minister or in relation to more than one.
      (3) Standing orders shall provide that-
 
 
    (a) the nominating officer of the political party for which the formula in subsection (4) gives the highest figure may select a statutory committee and nominate as its chairman or deputy chairman a person who is a member of the party and of the Assembly;
 
    (b) if the power conferred by paragraph (a) is not exercised within a period specified in standing orders, the power shall be exercisable instead by the nominating officer of the political party for which the formula in subsection (4) gives the next highest figure; and
 
    (c) paragraphs (a) and (b) shall be applied as many times as may be necessary to secure that a chairman and deputy chairman are nominated for each of the statutory committees.
      (4) The formula is-

S


1 + C
where- 
 
    S = the number of seats in the Assembly which are held by members of the party;
 
    C = the number of chairmen or deputy chairmen of statutory committees (if any) who are members of the party.
      (5) Standing orders shall provide that, where the figures given by the formula for two or more political parties are equal, each of those figures shall be recalculated with S being equal to the number of first preference votes cast for the party at the last general election of members of the Assembly.
 
      (6) Standing orders shall provide that, where an office of chairman or deputy chairman is vacant, the vacancy shall be filled by applying the provision made by virtue of subsections (3) to (5).
 
      (7) In this section "nominating officer" has the same meaning as in section 15.
 
Exclusion of Ministers from office.     23. - (1) If the Assembly resolves that a Minister no longer enjoys the confidence of the Assembly-
 
 
    (a) because he is not committed to non-violence and exclusively peaceful and democratic means;
 
    (b) because of any failure of his to observe any other terms of the pledge of office; or
 
    (c) for any other reason,
  he shall be excluded from holding office as a Minister for a period of twelve months beginning with the date of the resolution.
 
      (2) If the Assembly resolves that a political party does not enjoy the confidence of the Assembly-
 
 
    (a) because it is not committed to non-violence and exclusively peaceful and democratic means; or
 
    (b) for any other reason,
  members of that party shall be excluded from holding office as Ministers for a period of twelve months beginning with the date of the resolution.
 
      (3) The Assembly may, before a period of exclusion comes to an end, resolve to extend it for twelve months beginning with the date of the resolution.
 
      (4) A period of exclusion shall come to an end if the Assembly-
 
 
    (a) is dissolved; or
 
    (b) resolves to bring the exclusion to an end.
      (5) A motion for a resolution under subsection (1), (2) or (3) shall not be moved unless-
 
 
    (a) it is supported by at least 30 members of the Assembly;
 
    (b) it is moved by the First Minister and the deputy First Minister acting jointly; or
 
    (c) it is moved by the Presiding Officer in pursuance of a notice under subsection (6).
      (6) If the Secretary of State is of the opinion that the Assembly ought to consider-
 
 
    (a) a resolution under subsection (1)(a) in relation to a Minister; or
 
    (b) a resolution under subsection (2)(a) in relation to a political party,
  he may serve a notice on the Presiding Officer requiring him to move a motion for such a resolution.
 
      (7) In forming an opinion under subsection (6), the Secretary of State shall in particular take into account whether the Minister or party concerned-
 
 
    (a) is committed to the use now and in the future of only democratic and peaceful means to achieve his or its objectives;
 
    (b) has ceased to be involved in any acts of violence or of preparation for violence;
 
    (c) is directing or promoting acts of violence by other persons;
 
    (d) is co-operating fully with any Commission of the kind referred to in section 7 of the Northern Ireland Arms Decommissioning Act 1997 in implementing the Decommissioning section of the Belfast Agreement.
      (8) A resolution under this section shall not be passed without cross-community support.
 
 
previous section contents continue
 
House of Commons home page Houses of Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 1998
Prepared 15 July 1998