Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1973 c. 36


Northern IrelandConstitution Act 1973

1973 CHAPTER 36

An Act to make new provision for the government of Northern Ireland.

[18th July 1973]

Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

I Preliminary

Part I

Preliminary

Status of Northern Ireland

Status of Northern Ireland

S-1 Status of Northern Ireland as part of United Kingdom.

1 Status of Northern Ireland as part of United Kingdom.

1. It is hereby declared that Northern Ireland remains part of Her Majesty's dominions and of the United Kingdom, and it is hereby affirmed that in no event will Northern Ireland or any part of it cease to be part of Her Majesty's dominions and of the United Kingdom without the consent of the majority of the people of Northern Ireland voting in a poll held for the purposes of this section in accordance with Schedule 1 to this Act.

Devolution orders

Devolution orders

S-2 Initial devolution of legislative and executive responsibility.

2 Initial devolution of legislative and executive responsibility.

(1) If it appears to the Secretary of State—

(a ) that the Northern Ireland Assembly (in this Act referred to as ‘the Assembly’) has made satisfactory provision by its standing orders for the purposes mentioned in section 25(2) to (5) below; and

(b ) that a Northern Ireland Executive can be formed which, having regard to the support it commands in the Assembly and to the electorate on which that support is based, is likely to be widely accepted throughout the community,

and that having regard to those matters there is a reasonable basis for the establishment in Northern Ireland of government by consent, he shall lay before Parliament the draft of an Order in Council appointing a day for the commencement of Part II of this Act and declaring what matters shall, subject to section 3 below, be transferred matters for the purposes of this Act.

(2) The matters declared by an Order under this section to be transferred matters shall not include—

(a ) any of the matters specified in Schedule 2 to this Act (in this Act referred to as ‘excepted matters’); or

(b ) any of the matters specified in Schedule 3 to this Act.

(3) If the draft laid before Parliament under subsection (1) above is approved by resolution of each House of Parliament the Secretary of State shall submit it to Her Majesty in Council and Her Majesty in Council may make the Order in terms of the draft.

(4) On the day appointed by an Order under this section for the commencement of Part II of this Act (in this Act referred to as ‘the appointed day’) section 1 of the Northern Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Act 1972 shall expire.

S-3 Alterations in devolved responsibilites.

3 Alterations in devolved responsibilites.

(1) If at any time after the appointed day it appears to the Secretary of State—

(a ) that any matter (not being an excepted matter) which is not a transferred matter by virtue of an Order under section 2 above or a previous Order under this section should become a transferred matter; or

(b ) that any matter which by virtue of any such Order is a transferred matter should cease to be such a matter,

he may, subject to subsection (2) below, lay before Parliament the draft of an Order in Council declaring that the matter shall be or, as the case may be, shall cease to be a transferred matter with effect from such date as may be specified in the Order.

(2) The Secretary of State shall not lay before Parliament the draft of an Order in Council declaring that any matter not specified in Schedule 3 to this Act shall cease to be a transferred matter unless the Assembly has passed a resolution praying that it should cease to be a transferred matter.

(3) Subsection (3) of section 2 above shall have effect in relation to any draft laid before Parliament under this section as it has effect in relation to a draft laid before Parliament under that section.

(4) Any matter (not being an excepted matter) which is not for the time being a transferred matter is in this Act referred to as a ‘reserved matter’.

II Legislative Powers and Executive Authorities

Part II

Legislative Powers and Executive Authorities

Legislative powers

Legislative powers

S-4 Measures of Northern Ireland Assembly.

4 Measures of Northern Ireland Assembly.

(1) Laws may be made for Northern Ireland by Measures of the Assembly (in this Act referred to as ‘Measures’).

(2) A Measure shall be enacted by being passed by the Assembly and approved by Her Majesty in Council.

(3) Subject to section 17 below, a Measure shall have the same force and effect as an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

(4) This section does not affect the power of the Parliament of the United Kingdom to make laws for Northern Ireland but, subject to the said section 17, a Measure may amend or repeal any provision made by or under any Act of Parliament in so far as it is part of the law of Northern Ireland.

(5) It is hereby declared for the avoidance of doubt that a Measure is not invalid by reason of any failure to comply with the provisions of section 5, 6, 14 or 18(2), (5) or (6) below; and no act or omission under any of those provisions shall be called in question in any legal proceedings.

S-5 Secretary of State's consent for proposed Measures dealing with excepted or reserved matters.

5 Secretary of State's consent for proposed Measures dealing with excepted or reserved matters.

(1) The consent of the Secretary of State shall be required in accordance with this section in relation to a proposed Measure which contains any provision dealing with an excepted matter or reserved matter; and the Secretary of State shall not give his consent in relation to a proposed Measure which contains any provision dealing with an excepted matter unless he considers that the provision is ancillary to other provisions (whether in that Measure or previously enacted) dealing with reserved matters or transferred matters.

(2) Every proposed Measure introduced in the Assembly shall be considered by the Clerk to the Assembly on introduction and if—

(a ) he considers that it contains any provision dealing with an excepted matter or reserved matter; and

(b ) it has not been endorsed with a statement that the Secretary of State has consented to the Assembly considering the proposed Measure,

then, subject to subsection (4) below, the Clerk shall refer the proposed Measure to the Secretary of State and the Assembly shall not proceed with the Measure unless the Secretary of State's consent to the consideration of the Measure by the Assembly is signified or the Assembly is informed that in his opinion the Measure does not contain any such provision as aforesaid.

(3) Before the Assembly enters on the stage in its proceedings at which a proposed Measure falls finally to be passed or rejected—

(a ) the Clerk to the Assembly shall again consider the proposed Measure; and

(b ) if he considers that it contains any provision dealing with an excepted matter or reserved matter he shall, subject to subsection (4) below, refer it to the Secretary of State,

and the Assembly shall not enter on that stage unless the Secretary of State's consent to the Measure is signified or the Assembly is informed that in his opinion the Measure does not contain any such provision as aforesaid.

(4) Neither subsection (2) nor subsection (3) above shall require the Clerk to the Assembly to refer any proposed Measure to the Secretary of State, or preclude the Assembly from proceeding with a proposed Measure, by reason only that it contains a provision which, in the opinion of the Clerk, is ancillary to other provisions (whether in that Measure or previously enacted) dealing with transferred matters only.

(5) Every proposed Measure passed by the Assembly shall be transmitted to the Secretary of State for submission to Her Majesty in Council but if—

(a ) he considers that it contains any provision dealing with an excepted matter or reserved matter; and

(b ) it has not been referred to him under subsection (3) above (whether by virtue of subsection (4) above or otherwise),

he shall not submit the Measure to Her Majesty in Council unless he consents to the Measure.

(6) If the Secretary of State withholds his consent to a proposed Measure passed by the Assembly he shall refer it back to the Assembly for further consideration; and, if it is modified by the Assembly and again transmitted to him, subsection (5) above shall apply to it as if it were a new proposed Measure transmitted to him after being passed by the Assembly.

(7) For the purposes of this section a provision is ancillary to other provisions if it is a provision which is necessary or expedient for making those other provisions effective or which provides for the...

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