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Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2006

Schedule 6: Department With Policing and Justice Functions: Nominations Etc of Ministers

134.Schedule 6 amends Schedule 2 to the Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2006 which inserts new Schedule 4A (department with policing and justice functions) to the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

135.Responsibility for policing and justice matters in Northern Ireland has been reserved to Westminster since the introduction of direct rule in 1972, but the Government has a longstanding commitment to devolve it when circumstances are right to do so. Schedule 4A to the 1998 Act adds three further possible models for a department with policing and justice functions to that already permitted under the 1998 Act. Schedule 6 to the Act amends Schedule 4A, making identical changes to all three of these additional models as follows.

136.New paragraphs 3(3A), 7(3A) and 11(3A) of Schedule 4A to the 1998 Act provide that a member of the Assembly who is a member of a political party cannot be nominated by the First Minister and deputy First Minister to a ministerial post in a department with policing and justice functions without the consent of the nominating officer of the member’s political party.

137.New paragraphs 3(9)(d), 7(9)(d) and 11(9)(d) of Schedule 4A to the 1998 Act provide that a Minister of the department with policing and justice functions shall cease to hold office if he is dismissed by the nominating officer of his own party. (Before this change, such a Minister could be dismissed only by the First Minister and deputy First Minister).

138.New paragraphs 3(10A) to (10C), 7(10A) to (10C) and 11(11A) to (11D) of Schedule 4A to the 1998 Act provide that, in circumstances where a Minister ceases to hold office and the appointment of a successor alters the number of ministerial posts held by a political party, thereby distorting the balance achieved by the d’Hondt process, all other Ministers shall cease to hold office and the d’Hondt process shall be run anew. The exception to this rule is in circumstances where a party dismisses its own Minister and declines to nominate a replacement or the nominated replacement does not take up office.

139.New paragraphs 3(14), 7(14) and 11(15) of Schedule 4A to the 1998 Act apply the definition of “nominating officer” set out in section 18(13) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (as substituted by paragraph 2(3) of Schedule 5 to the Act) to these provisions.

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