Northern Ireland Bill published

The blandly titled Northern Ireland Bill announced by Peter Hain on Tuesday and setting out the procedure for recalling the Assembly has been published on the parliament website, containing 6 clauses and 3 schedules [text of Bill here], and explanatory notes here, and it does include a provision, in the event that an Executive can be formed, to delay the Assembly elections until May 2008. If an Executive isn’t formed the BBC predict it could cost £3.5million to close the Assembly down.Schedule 2, which details the procedure if an executive is formed, includes this –

Postponement of next Northern Ireland Assembly election to May 2008

4 (1) In section 31 of the 1998 Act (Northern Ireland Assembly: dates of elections and dissolutions), for subsection (2) substitute—

“(2) In relation to the poll for the election of the Assembly next following the Assembly elected at the poll on 26th November 2003, subsection (1) is to have effect as if for “fourth calendar year” there were substituted “fifth calendar year”.”

(2) In section 96 of the 1998 Act—

(a) in subsection (2), “31(2),” shall be repealed;

(b) subsections (2A) to (2D) shall be repealed.

(3) The amendments made by this paragraph shall have effect on and after the effective date.

The explanatory section has this to say

36. Paragraph 4 amends section 31 of the 1998 Act in order to provide for the postponement of the next Northern Ireland Assembly election by one year. Under paragraph 4 the election will take place on the first Thursday of May 2008 (rather than the first Thursday of May 2007) in order to allow the Northern Ireland Assembly a stable period of operation under full restoration.[added emphasis]

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  • Rubicon

    Typical of the BBC to predict the costs of closing the Assembly. I guess it would just take too much effort for them to calculate or inquire as to the costs to NI’s people of a loss of devolution.

    This is typical of the lazy, negative and mostly inaccurate journalism that has yet to produce a productive investigative journalism here.

    During “the troubles” while getting tanked-up in the Europa and taking turns to listen to the SW for the latest killing appears to have been a difficult ‘work-pattern’ to replace.

    How much do these journalists cost? What are their expenses charges? What have they got right? Do they have a pension scheme? Who pays for that? etc etc etc And … how much are the BBC hoping to increase the license fee by?

    Ah well … I guess we don’t get what we do pay for.

    Incompetent cost/benefit ‘analysis’ I expect is about as informative to NI journalism as it is to its politics.

  • George

    And if there is no Assembly formed, it seems the Secretary of State has carte blanche from November 25:

    He may by order made by statutory instrument make—

    “(a) any supplementary, incidental or consequential provision, and

    (b) any transitional or saving provision, that he considers necessary or expedient for the purposes of, in consequence of, or for giving full effect to, any provision of this Act.”

    He may also

    “amend, repeal or revoke any enactment passed or made on or before 25th November 2006.”

  • More interestingly there is provision to postpone the next scheduled assembly election for twelve months. This Bill also repeals the existing suspension power contained in the NI Act 2000.

  • Rubicon

    Much of the Bill should be sent to the Plain English Society – it cross-references the Agreement, NI Act 1998 and 2000. On 3rd reading (and after getting my ears bashed for taking over the dining table) I think I’ve got the idea.

    Now – what do we call this non-executive, non-legislative time-bound Assembly?

    I hear “shadow Assembly” upsets some … How about “virtual Assembly”?

  • “quasi Assembly”?

  • gg

    “Much of the Bill should be sent to the Plain English Society – it cross-references the Agreement, NI Act 1998 and 2000. On 3rd reading (and after getting my ears bashed for taking over the dining table) I think I’ve got the idea.”

    You could always try the explanatory notes. Legislation like this has to be precise, and, as it alters provisions of the other enactments, needs to mention them.