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Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2006


Section 10: Statutory committee for Office of First Minister and deputy First Minister

64.Section 10 makes amendments to section 29 of the 1998 Act to provide for the establishment of a statutory committee to advise and assist the First and deputy First Ministers in the formulation of policies in relation to their responsibilities as the Ministers jointly in charge of the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister. The effect of this section is to put the former non-statutory “Committee of the Centre”, which was in operation prior to the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly, on a statutory footing.

Section 11: Committee to review functioning of Assembly and Executive Committee

65.Section 11 provides for a Committee to review the functioning of the Assembly and the Executive Committee.

66.Subsection (1) inserts new sections 29A and 29B into the 1998 Act to require the Assembly to establish a Committee to review the functioning of the Assembly and the Executive Committee. The detailed practical arrangements for the committee’s operation are a matter for standing orders (new section 29A(1)), which are required to provide for the committee to make reports to the Assembly and to the Executive Committee (new section 29A(2)).

67.New section 29A(3) requires the new committee to make a report on the operation of the provisions of Parts 3 and 4 of the 1998 Act (which deal respectively with the devolved executive authorities and the Assembly) to the Secretary of State, the Assembly and the Executive Committee. The report might, for example, consider whether changes should be made to the provisions for appointing Ministers, the provisions dealing with the exclusion of individuals and parties from holding Ministerial offices, and the arrangements for dealing with the calculation of cross-community support within the Assembly.

68.New section 29B(1) provides that standing orders must require the committee to consider the operation of the new arrangements for appointing Ministers (provided for in the new sections 16A to 16C, inserted by section 8) and whether, in particular, these should continue in operation beyond the Assembly election in 2011 or whether the arrangements should revert to those set out in section 16 of the 1998 Act. The procedure to be followed if it recommends the latter is set out in subsections (2) to (5) of section 11. In particular, if the recommendation receives cross-community support in the Assembly, subsection (2) requires the Secretary of State to bring forward an order to amend the 1998 Act and any other enactment so far as necessary to ensure that the procedure reverts to the section 16 one.

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