Assembly and Executive Reform (Assembly Opposition) Act (Northern Ireland) 2016

JurisdictionNorthern Ireland
Citation2016 NI c 10


Assembly and Executive Reform (Assembly Opposition) Act (Northern Ireland) 2016

2016 (N.I.) c. 10

An Act to provide for the formation of an Assembly Opposition; to provide for the passing of an Assembly and Executive Transfer of Responsibilities Motion; and to reform the Assembly and the Executive.

[23rd March 2016]

BE IT ENACTED by being passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly and assented to by Her Majesty as follows:

Purpose

Purpose

S-1 Purpose

1 Purpose

The purpose of this Act is—

(a) to provide for the formation of an Assembly Opposition (“the Opposition”) to scrutinise the work of the Executive Committee, Ministers and departments and hold them to account,

(b) to confer on the Opposition certain rights and benefits within the Assembly,

(c) to promote constitutional change to facilitate the development and enhancement of the role of the Opposition, and

(d) to reform the Executive.

Assembly Opposition

Assembly Opposition

S-2 Formation of the Opposition

2 Formation of the Opposition

(1) Standing orders must make provision for the formation of an Opposition in accordance with this section.

(2) The Opposition may be formed by one or more qualifying parties.

(3) In this Act “qualifying party” means a political party which does not have a member who is a Minister, but which was entitled to nominate a person to Ministerial office under section 18(2) to (6) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, at the time when those nominations were made; or whose members comprise 8% or more of the total number of members of the Assembly, and which does not contain a member who is a Minister.

S-3 Timing of formation of the Opposition

3 Timing of formation of the Opposition

(1) Standing orders must make provision for the timing of the formation of the Opposition in accordance with this section.

(2) The Opposition may be formed by one or more qualifying parties at the time when a Ministerial office is to be filled by applying section 18(2) to (6) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 following—

(a) the first meeting of the Assembly in accordance with section 16A of the Northern Ireland Act 1998,

(b) all Ministers ceasing to hold office in accordance with section 18(1) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998,

(c) the application of section 18(10) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 where a Ministerial office is vacant for any other reason but the nominating officer of the party on whose behalf the previous incumbent was nominated does not nominate a person to hold that office, or

(3) The Opposition may also be formed by one or more of the qualifying parties before the 30th June 2016.

S-4 Dissolution of the Opposition

4 Dissolution of the Opposition

Standing orders must make provision that, if all Ministers cease to hold office in accordance with section 18(1) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, the Opposition is dissolved.

S-5 Leadership of the Opposition

5 Leadership of the Opposition

(1) Standing orders must make provision for the offices in the leadership of the Opposition in accordance with this section.

(2) Where the Opposition is formed by one qualifying party, then the nominating officer of that party must nominate a person to be the Leader of the Non-Executive Party.

(3) Where the Opposition is formed by two or more qualifying parties, then—

(a) the nominating officer of the largest party must nominate a person to be the Leader of the Largest Non-Executive Party,

(b) the nominating officer of the second largest party must nominate a person to be the Leader of the Second-Largest Non-Executive Party.

(4) Standing orders may provide for alternative names for the offices in the leadership of the Opposition.

S-6 Topical questions from the leadership of the Opposition

6 Topical questions from the leadership of the Opposition

Standing orders must make provision that the first and second questions put to the First Minister and deputy First Minister during topical questions come from theleadership of the Opposition.

S-7 Speaking rights in the Assembly

7 Speaking rights in the Assembly

Standing orders must make provision that speaking rights in the Assembly are allocated on the basis of party strength.

S-8 Enhanced speaking rights for the Opposition

8 Enhanced speaking rights for the Opposition

(1) Standing orders must make provision for enhanced speaking rights for the Opposition in accordance with this section.

(2) In this section, “enhanced speaking rights” means more speaking rights than a member of the Opposition would otherwise be entitled to on the basis of numerical party size in the Assembly, and includes a minimum of 10 days per year set aside for Opposition business.

S-9 Opposition right to chair Public Accounts Committee

9 Opposition right to chair Public Accounts Committee

(1) Standing orders must make provision for the rights of the Opposition to chair any committee established to consider accounts and reports on accounts laid before the Assembly, in accordance with this section.

(2) The chairperson of the committee is to be nominated by the Leader of the Non-Executive Party or Leader of the Largest...

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