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Lords concludes examination of' Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concern) Bill at third reading

25 January 2022

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Members of the Lords completed its examination of the Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concern) Bill at third reading on Monday 24 January.

The Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concern) Bill will deliver aspects of the New Decade, New Approach deal agreed in January 2020 in relation to the sustainability of Northern Ireland institutions and the transparency and accountability of the Executive and Petitions of Concern.

Final checks

Third reading is the chance for members to ‘tidy up' a bill, making any small changes to ensure it is effective.  

No changes to the wording of the bill were put forward ahead of third reading. Members discussed the progress of the bill through the House at the conclusion of Lords stages.

Get involved

Watch and read the debate

Catch up on Parliament TV or read the Lords Hansard transcript.

Explore further information

Read background on the bill in the House of Lords Library briefing.

Next steps

Following completion of third reading, the bill now passes to the Commons for consideration of Lords amendments.

What's happened so far

Report stage: Wednesday 19 January

Proposed changes

Members put forward changes (PDF) (amendments) to consider at report stage.

The amendments covered a range of subjects, including:

  • referring to the First Minister and deputy First Minister as Joint First Ministers to reflect their identical status, powers and responsibilities

  • First Minister and deputy First Minister appointment process 

  • allowing an MP (Member of Parliament) to become an MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly), or an MLA to become an MP when elections take place at the same time

  • requiring the government to report on what parts of The New Decade, New Approach deal have been achieved under this bill, and what plans it has to implement the remainder of the deal.

Catch up on Parliament TV or read the Lords Hansard transcript.

Committee stage: Monday 13 December

Committee stage of this bill took place in Grand Committee, away from the main chamber. Any member can take part and decisions on amendments (changes) can be made but no votes can take place.

Proposed changes 

Members speaking put forward changes (PDF) (amendments) to the bill to be discussed. 

The amendments covered a range of subjects, including:

  • that First Minister and deputy First Minister be referred to as Joint First Ministers reflecting their identical status, powers and responsibilities

  • requiring the government to report on what parts of The New Decade, New Approach Deal have been achieved under this bill, and what plans it has to implement the remainder of the deal

  • re-establishing a consultative Civic Forum for Northern Ireland.

The bill was debated without any further amendments.

Catch up on Parliament TV or read a transcript in Lords Hansard.

Second reading: Monday 29 November

Members discussed the main issues in the bill during the second reading debate, including:

  • extending the time available to appoint a First or Deputy First Minister following the resignation of either, or after the first meeting of the Assembly following an election

  • enabling existing Ministers to remain in post following an election  rather than having to leave their role automatically on polling day

  • revising the ministerial code of conduct.

Find our more about the issues discussed: catch up on Parliament TV or read the Lords Hansard transcript.

Image: Creative Commons/Pixabay