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Lords concludes scrutiny of Identity and Language (Northern Ireland) Bill

14 July 2022

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The Identity and Language (Northern Ireland) Bill had its third reading, a chance for members to make sure the eventual law is effective, workable and without loopholes, on Wednesday 13 July.

The Identity and Language (Northern Ireland) Bill aims to:

  • deliver measures to promote and respect Northern Ireland’s diverse national, cultural and linguistic identities
  • grant official status to the Irish language in Northen Ireland, providing recognition, protection and the development of the Ulster Scots and Ulster British tradition
  • create two Commissioners and an Office of Identity and Cultural Expression, which will benefit everyone in Northern Ireland.

Third reading 

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

No amendments 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

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

Explore further information

Read background on the bill in the Identity and Language (Northern Ireland) Bill [HL] briefing from the Lords Library.

Next steps 

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

What's happened so far?

Report stage: Wednesday 6 July

Report stage is an extra chance for members to closely scrutinise elements of the bill and make changes.   

Proposed changes 

Members speaking at report stage put forward amendments (changes) on subjects including the Northern Ireland Office and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. 

Catch up

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

Committee stage: Wednesday 22 June

Committee stage is the first chance to check the bill in detail and make changes.  

Proposed changes  

Members speaking at committee stage put forward amendments (changes) to the bill to be discussed. 

The amendments covered a range of subjects, including: 

  • respecting the rights of others in relation to a person's choice of national and cultural identity
  • ensuring all UK wide public services comply with the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
  • the powers of the Secretary of State to appoint an Irish Language Commissioner.

Catch up

Watch live on Parliament TV from 3.40pm. Read a transcript in Lords Hansard from three hours after the debate.

Second reading: Tuesday 7 June

Members discussed the main issues in the bill and drew attention to specific areas where they thought amendments (changes) were needed during second reading. Topics covered during the debate included:

  • implementation of New Decade, New Approach
  • taking forward the provisions in the draft law by the Northern Ireland Administration and Executive
  • the remit of the draft law
  • the appointment process for roles created by the new law
  • and the Belfast Agreement and the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Members speaking

Lord Caine (Conservative), Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Nothern Ireland, opened the debate and responded on behalf of the government.

Members speaking in the debate included:

  • Lord Bew (Crossbench), member,  British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly
  • Lord Brown of Belmont (Democratic Unionist Party), former member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
  • Lord Moylan (Conservative), member of the advisory council and Research Fellow, Centre for Policy Studies
  • Lord Murphy of Torfaen (Labour), former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
  • Barones Suttie (Liberal Democrat), Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Northern Ireland.

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

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