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Northern Ireland Act 2006

Schedule 2 – Selection of Ministers

29.Section 2(1) provides for Schedule 2 to take effect if the Secretary of State is satisfied that the conditions of selecting an Executive and having that Executive affirm the pledge of office have been met and he has made the necessary notification to the presiding officer or a deputy presiding officer before 25th November 2006.

30.Under paragraph 2 of Schedule 2, the Secretary of State is then obliged to make a restoration order under section 2(2) of the 2000 Act, the effect of which is to restore devolved government (and accordingly end direct rule). This order must be made on the date specified in the notification to the presiding or deputy presiding officer under section 2(1), and must come into force the following day. Paragraph 2(3) ensures that when such a restoration order comes into force, those who previously held Ministerial office (and certain other offices) at the time of suspension will not resume that office. Instead, paragraph 2(4) makes clear that those elected or nominated under section 2 of the Act will hold the offices of First Minister and deputy First Minister and the other Ministerial offices. Paragraph 2(5) provides that those who have affirmed the pledge of office under section 2 of the Act will be deemed to have done so under the 1998 Act when the restoration order comes into force. Paragraph 2(6) and (7) makes similar transitional provision in relation to the presiding and deputy presiding officers.

31.Paragraph 2(8) provides that the restoration order may make any other necessary provision required in order to carry forward the preparations for devolution undertaken by the Assembly members, and treat them as having been undertaken by the “full-devolution” Northern Ireland Assembly. For example, it could be used to avoid the need for members to sign the Roll again. Paragraph 2(9) disapplies certain procedural requirements of the 2000 Act, so that the restoration order can be made quickly. (It disapplies section 2(3) of the 2000 Act, which provides that the Secretary of State must take account of a review conducted under the 2000 Act; and section 7(4) to (7) of the 2000 Act, which requires the restoration order to be made using the affirmative resolution procedure (or an urgency procedure)).

32.Paragraph 3(1) provides for the 2000 Act to be repealed automatically on the day after the restoration order takes effect. Sub-paragraphs (2) to (9) of paragraph 3 contain some saving provisions needed as a result of the repeal of the 2000 Act. Sub-paragraph (11) of paragraph 3 makes clear that the inclusion of sub-paragraphs (2) to (9) is not meant to limit the scope of consequential, transitional or saving provision that may be made by an order under section 3.

33.Sub-paragraphs (2) to (4) of paragraph 3 largely replicate subsections (8) to (10) of section 3 of the 2000 Act. Paragraph 3(2) provides that the Northern Ireland Assembly shall not make a determination under section 47 of the 1998 Act (Northern Ireland Assembly salaries and allowances) in respect of any period of suspension, and paragraph 3(3) provides that the Northern Ireland Assembly also cannot annul or revoke any instrument made during suspension.

34.Paragraph 3(4) to (6) is designed to provide certainty in relation to legislation made during the period of Northern Ireland Assembly suspension. Paragraph 3(4) provides that the restoration order and the repeal of the 2000 Act will not affect the operation (on or after the coming into force of the restoration order) of Orders in Council that were made under paragraph 1(1) of the Schedule to the 2000 Act during suspension (that is, Orders on matters which are the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Assembly under the 1998 Act). Paragraph 3(5) provides that such Orders in Council should be read as Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly so far as the context permits this (largely replicating paragraph 3(1) of the Schedule to the 2000 Act). Paragraph 3(6) and (8) similarly provides that orders and determinations made under section 6 of, or paragraph 9 of the Schedule to, the 2000 Act are not affected by the repeal of the 2000 Act. Paragraph 3(7) is intended to ensure that any consequential, transitional or saving provision included in the restoration order made by virtue of paragraph 2 of Schedule 2 continues to operate despite the repeal of section 7(2) of the 2000 Act (see, in particular, paragraph 2(8) of Schedule 2 to the Act).

35.Paragraph 3(9) keeps alive the amendment of section 44 of the 1998 Act made by section 9(3) of the 2000 Act. That amendment would otherwise have been repealed as a result of the repeal of the 2000 Act under paragraph 3(1).

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.

37.Paragraph 5 provides for section 1(1) and (2) and Schedules 1 and 3 to the Act to be repealed when the restoration order comes into force.

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