House of Commons - Explanatory Note
House of Commons
Session 1999-2000
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Disqualifications Bill


These notes refer to the Disqualifications Bill
as introduced in the House of Commons on 21st December 1999 [Bill 41]

Disqualifications Bill



1.     These explanatory notes relate to the Disqualifications Bill as introduced in the House of Commons on 21 December. They have been prepared by the Home Office in order to assist the reader of the Bill and to help inform debate on it. They do not form part of the Bill and have not been endorsed by Parliament.

2.     These notes need to be read in conjunction with the Bill. They are not, and are not meant to be, a comprehensive description of the Bill. So where a clause or part of a clause does not seem to require any explanation or comment, none is given.


3.     The Bill amends existing legislation so as to allow members of the Irish legislature to sit in the House of Commons and/or the Northern Ireland Assembly. This puts them in the same position as members of the legislatures of Commonwealth countries.

4.     Irish nationals are already in the same position as Commonwealth citizens as regards standing for election to or voting in elections for the House of Commons, or the Northern Ireland Assembly.

5.     The Bill also amends the Northern Ireland Act 1998 so as to provide that no one may hold Ministerial office in both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.


Clause 1: Amendment of the Disqualification Acts

6.     Clause 1 amends the two Acts under which at present members of all legislatures of countries or territories outside the Commonwealth are disqualified from membership of the House of Commons and the Northern Ireland Assembly - the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 and the Northern Ireland Assembly Disqualification Act 1975 - so as to remove the disqualification for members of the Irish legislature. The Northern Ireland Assembly Act 1975 has effect subject to section 36(5) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 which qualifies members of the upper house (Seanad Eireann) of the Irish legislature for membership of the Northern Ireland Assembly. The further amendment thus qualifies members of the lower house - the Dail - as well.

Clause 2: Disqualification for Ministerial office in Northern Ireland

7.     Clause 2 adds a new section 19A to the Northern Ireland Act 1998. This provides that a Minister of the Government of Ireland may not stand for election, or be elected, as First Minister or deputy First Minister, and may not be nominated to hold Ministerial office or be appointed a junior Minister (subsection (1)); and that a Minister or junior Minister ceases to hold office if he becomes a Minister of the Government of Ireland (subsection (2)).

Clause 3: Consequential repeal

8.     Section 36(5) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 is no longer needed and is repealed by Clause 3 of the Bill.

Financial Effects of the Bill

9.     The Bill will not impose any costs on public funds.

Effects of the Bill on Public Service Manpower

10.     The Bill will not require any increase in the number of permanent staff in the public service.

Regulatory Appraisal

11.     The Bill does not impose any compliance costs on business.

European Convention on Human Rights

12.     Section 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998 requires the Minister in charge of a Bill in either House of Parliament to make a statement, before second reading, about the compatibility of the provisions of the Bill with the convention rights (as defined by section 1 of that Act). On 20 December 1999 the Secretary of State for the Home Department made the following statement:

In my view the provisions of the Disqualifications Bill are compatible with the Convention rights.


13.     The Bill would come into effect immediately on Royal Assent.

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© Parliamentary copyright 1999
Prepared: 21 December 1999