CAIN: Northern Ireland Act 1998

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The Northern Ireland Act 1998



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Text: Government ... Page Compiled: Fionnuala McKenna
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PART V

 

NSMC, BIC, BIIC ETC.

North-South Ministerial Council and British-Irish Council. 

    52. - (1) The First Minister and the deputy First Minister acting jointly shall make such nominations of Ministers and junior Ministers (including where appropriate alternative nominations) as they consider necessary to ensure-
 

(a) such cross-community participation in the North-South Ministerial Council as is required by the Belfast Agreement; and

 

(b) such cross-community participation in the British-Irish Council as is so required.

 

    (2) It shall be a Ministerial responsibility of a Minister or junior Minister nominated under subsection (1)(a) or (b) to participate in the Council concerned in such meetings or activities as are specified in the nomination.
 

 

    (3) Without prejudice to the operation of section 24, such a Minister or junior Minister shall act in accordance with any decisions of the Assembly or the Executive Committee which are relevant to his participation in the Council concerned.
 

 

    (4) A Minister may in writing authorise a Minister or junior Minister who has been nominated under subsection (1)(a) or (b) to enter into agreements or arrangements in respect of matters for which he is responsible.
 

 

    (5) The First Minister and the deputy First Minister acting jointly shall, as far in advance of each meeting of either Council as is reasonably practicable, give to the Executive Committee and to the Assembly the following information in relation to the meeting-
 

 

(a) the date;

 

(b) the agenda; and

 

(c) nominations made under subsection (1) for the purposes of the meeting.

 

    (6) A Minister or junior Minister who participates in a meeting of either Council by reason of a nomination under this section shall, as soon as reasonably practicable after the meeting, make a report-
 

 

(a) to the Executive Committee; and

 

(b) to the Assembly.

 

    (7) A report under subsection (6)(b) shall be made orally unless standing orders authorise it to be made in writing.
 

 

    (8) The Northern Ireland contributions towards the expenses of the Councils shall be defrayed as expenses of the Department of Finance and Personnel.
 

 

    (9) In this section "participate" shall be construed-
 

 

(a) in relation to the North-South Ministerial Council, in accordance with paragraphs 5 and 6 of Strand Two of the Belfast Agreement;

 

(b) in relation to the British-Irish Council, in accordance with the first paragraph 5 of Strand Three of that Agreement.

Agreements etc. by persons participating in Councils.

    53. - (1) This section applies to any agreement or arrangement entered into by a Minister or junior Minister participating, by reason of a nomination under section 52, in a meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council or the British-Irish Council.
 

 

    (2) Provision may be made by Act of the Assembly for giving effect to any agreement or arrangement to which this section applies, including provision-
 

 

(a) for transferring to any body designated by or constituted under the agreement or arrangement any functions which would otherwise be exercisable by any Minister or Northern Ireland department;

 

(b) for transferring to a Minister or Northern Ireland department any functions which would otherwise be exercisable by any authority outside Northern Ireland.

 

    (3) Subsection (2) has effect notwithstanding anything in subsection (2)(a) of section 6; but it does not affect-
 

 

(a) the operation of subsection (2)(b) to (f) of that section; or

 

(b) the operation of section 8 or 15 in relation to the enactment of any Act of the Assembly.

 

    (4) No agreement or arrangement to which this section applies entered into for the establishment after the appointed day of an implementation body shall come into operation without the approval of the Assembly.
 

 

    (5) In subsection (4) "implementation body" means a body for implementing, on the basis mentioned in paragraph 11 of Strand Two of the Belfast Agreement, policies agreed in the North-South Ministerial Council.
 

British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference.

    54. - (1) This section applies where excepted or reserved matters relating to Northern Ireland are to be discussed at a meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference.
 

 

    (2) The First Minister and the deputy First Minister acting jointly shall ensure that there is such cross-community attendance by Ministers and junior Ministers at the meeting as is required by the Belfast Agreement.
 

Implementation bodies.

    55. - (1) The Secretary of State may make an order about any body-
 

 

(a) which he considers to be an implementation body; and

 

(b) which is, or is to be, established on or before the appointed day.

 

    (2) An order under this section may make any such provision as may be made (after the appointed day) by Act of the Assembly and may in particular-
 

 

(a) confer on the body the legal capacities of a body corporate;

 

(b) confer on the body any function which the Secretary of State considers necessary or expedient for the purpose for which it is, or is to be, established;

 

(c) confer on a Northern Ireland department power to make grants to the body out of money appropriated by Act of the Assembly;

 

(d) make provision as to the accounting and audit arrangements which are to apply in relation to the body; and

 

(e) make consequential or supplementary provisions, including provisions amending or repealing any Northern Ireland legislation, or any instrument made under such legislation.

 

    (3) In this section "implementation body" means a body for implementing, on the basis mentioned in paragraph 11 of Strand Two of the Belfast Agreement, policies agreed in the North-South Ministerial Council.
 

Civic Forum.

    56. - (1) The First Minister and the deputy First Minister acting jointly shall make arrangements for obtaining from the Forum its views on social, economic and cultural matters.
 

 

    (2) The arrangements so made shall not take effect until after they have been approved by the Assembly.
 

 

    (3) The expenses of the Forum shall be defrayed as expenses of the Department of Finance and Personnel.
 

 

    (4) In this section "the Forum" means the consultative Civic Forum established in pursuance of paragraph 34 of Strand One of the Belfast Agreement by the First Minister and the deputy First Minister acting jointly.
 

 

PART VI

 

FINANCIAL PROVISIONS

 


Consolidated Fund

Consolidated Fund of Northern Ireland. 

    57. - (1) The Consolidated Fund of Northern Ireland shall continue to exist.
 

    (2) Sums forming part of the Fund-
 

 

(a) shall be appropriated to the public service of Northern Ireland by Act of the Assembly; and

 

(b) shall not be applied for any purpose for which they are not appropriated.

 

    (3) Subsection (2) is subject to section 59 and to any provision which charges sums on the Fund and is made-
 

 

(a) by or under an Act of Parliament; or

 

(b) by an Act of the Assembly or other Northern Ireland legislation.

Payments into the Fund.

    58. The Secretary of State shall from time to time make payments into the Consolidated Fund of Northern Ireland out of money provided by Parliament of such amounts as he may determine.
 

Payments out of Fund without appropriation Act.

    59. - (1) If an Act is not passed at least three working days before the end of a financial year ("year 1") authorising the issue out of the Consolidated Fund of Northern Ireland of sums for the service of the next financial year ("year 2")-
 

 

(a) the authorised officer of the Department of Finance and Personnel may, subject to any Act subsequently passed, authorise the issue of sums out of that Fund for the service of year 2; and

 

(b) the sums so issued shall be appropriated for such services and purposes as the officer may direct.

 

    (2) The aggregate of the sums issued under subsection (1) for the service of year 2 shall not exceed 75 per cent of the total amount appropriated by Act for the service of year 1.
 

 

    (3) If an Act is not passed before the end of July in any financial year authorising the issue out of the Consolidated Fund of Northern Ireland of sums for the service of the year-
 

 

(a) the authorised officer of the Department of Finance and Personnel may, subject to any Act subsequently passed, authorise the issue of sums out of that Fund for the service of the year; and

 

(b) the sums so issued shall be appropriated for such services and purposes as the officer may direct.

 

    (4) The aggregate of the sums issued under subsection (3), and (where applicable) the sums issued under subsection (1), for the service of any financial year shall not exceed 95 per cent of the total amount appropriated by Act for the service of the preceding financial year.
 

 

    (5) In this section-
 

 

"Act" means an Act of the Assembly or, in relation to any time before the appointed day, an Order in Council under Schedule 1 to the Northern Ireland Act 1974;

 

"authorised officer", in relation to the Department of Finance and Personnel, means the Permanent Secretary or such other officer as may be nominated by him for the purpose.

Financial control, accounts and audit.

    60. - (1) In so far as such provision has not been made, an Act of the Assembly or other Northern Ireland legislation shall make provision-
 

 

(a) for proper accounts to be prepared by the Northern Ireland departments, and by other persons to whom sums are paid directly out of the Consolidated Fund of Northern Ireland, of their expenditure and receipts;

 

(b) for the Department of Finance and Personnel to prepare an account of payments into and out of the Fund;

 

(c) for the Comptroller and Auditor General for Northern Ireland to exercise, or ensure the exercise by other persons of, the functions mentioned in subsection (2);

 

(d) for access by persons exercising those functions to such documents as they may reasonably require;

 

(e) for members of the Northern Ireland Civil Service designated for the purpose to be answerable to the Assembly in respect of the expenditure and receipts of each of the Northern Ireland departments; and

 

(f) for the publication of accounts prepared in pursuance of paragraphs (a) and (b), and of reports on such accounts, and for the laying of such accounts and reports before the Assembly.

 

    (2) The functions referred to in subsection (1)(c) are-
 

 

(a) issuing credits for the payment of sums out of the Fund;

 

(b) examining accounts prepared in pursuance of subsection (1)(a) and (b) (which includes determining whether sums paid out of the Fund have been paid out and applied in accordance with section 57), and certifying and reporting on them;

 

(c) carrying out examinations into the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which the Northern Ireland departments have used their resources in discharging their functions; and

 

(d) carrying out examinations into the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which other persons determined under Northern Ireland legislation to whom sums are paid directly out of the Fund have used those sums in discharging their functions.

 

    (3) Standing orders shall make provision for establishing a committee of members of the Assembly to consider accounts, and reports on accounts, laid before the Assembly in pursuance of this section or any other enactment.
 

 

    (4) Persons (other than the Comptroller and Auditor General for Northern Ireland) charged with the exercise of any function under subsection (2) or other like function conferred by Northern Ireland legislation shall not, in the exercise of that or any ancillary function, be subject to the direction or control of any Minister or Northern Ireland department or of the Assembly.
 

 

    (5) Subsection (2)(b) does not apply to accounts prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General for Northern Ireland.
 

 


Advances

Advances by Secretary of State.

    61. - (1) The Secretary of State may advance to the Department of Finance and Personnel sums required for the purpose of-
 

 

(a) meeting a temporary excess of sums to be paid out of the Consolidated Fund of Northern Ireland over sums paid into the Fund; or

 

(b) providing a working balance in the Fund.

 

    (2) The Treasury may issue to the Secretary of State out of the National Loans Fund any sum which he requires for the making of an advance under this section.
 

 

    (3) The aggregate at any time outstanding in respect of the principal of sums advanced under this section shall not exceed 250 million.
 

 

    (4) Sums advanced under this section shall be repaid to the Secretary of State at such times and by such methods, and interest on them shall be paid to him at such rates and at such times, as the Treasury may determine.
 

 

    (5) Sums received by the Secretary of State under subsection (4) shall be paid into the National Loans Fund.
 

 

    (6) Amounts required for the repayment of, or the payment of interest on, sums advanced under this section shall be charged on the Consolidated Fund of Northern Ireland.
 

 

    (7) The Secretary of State may by order, with the consent of the Treasury, substitute for the amount specified in subsection (3) such increased amount as may be specified in the order.
 

Accounts.

    62. - (1) The Secretary of State shall, for each financial year-
 

 

(a) prepare, in such form and manner as the Treasury may direct, an account of sums paid and received by him under section 61; and

 

(b) send the account to the Comptroller and Auditor General not later than the end of November in the following financial year.

 

    (2) The Comptroller and Auditor General shall-
 

 

(a) examine, certify and report on the account; and

 

(b) lay copies of it and his report before each House of Parliament.

 


Miscellaneous

Financial acts of the Assembly.

    63. - (1) The Assembly may not pass a vote, resolution or Act to which this subsection applies except in pursuance of a recommendation which-
 

 

(a) is made by the Minister of Finance and Personnel; and

 

(b) is signified to the Assembly by him or on his behalf.

 

    (2) Subsection (1) applies to a vote, resolution or Act which-
 

 

(a) imposes or increases a charge on the Consolidated Fund of Northern Ireland;

 

(b) appropriates a sum out of that Fund or increases a sum to be appropriated;

 

(c) releases or compounds a debt owed to the Crown; or

 

(d) imposes or increases a tax.

 

    (3) Standing orders shall provide that a vote, resolution or Act which-
 

 

(a) appropriates a sum out of the Consolidated Fund of Northern Ireland or increases a sum to be appropriated; or

 

(b) imposes or increases a tax,

 

shall not be passed without cross-community support.
 

Draft budgets.

    64. - (1) The Minister of Finance and Personnel shall, before the beginning of each financial year, lay before the Assembly a draft budget, that is to say, a programme of expenditure proposals for that year which has been agreed by the Executive Committee in accordance with paragraph 20 of Strand One of the Belfast Agreement.
 

 

    (2) The Assembly may, with cross-community support, approve a draft budget laid before them with or without modification.
 

Audit.

    65. - (1) The Comptroller and Auditor General for Northern Ireland shall be appointed by Her Majesty on the nomination of the Assembly.
 

 

    (2) A recommendation shall not be made to Her Majesty for the removal from office of the Comptroller and Auditor General for Northern Ireland unless-
 

 

(a) the Assembly so resolves; and

 

(b) the resolution is passed with the support of a number of members of the Assembly which equals or exceeds two thirds of the total number of seats in the Assembly.

 

    (3) The Comptroller and Auditor General for Northern Ireland shall not, in the exercise of any of his functions, be subject to the direction or control of any Minister or Northern Ireland department or of the Assembly; but this subsection does not apply in relation to any function conferred on him of preparing accounts.
 

 

    (4) The accounts of the Consolidated Fund of Northern Ireland shall be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General for Northern Ireland in accordance with the Exchequer and Audit Act Northern Ireland) 1921.
 

 

    (5) Subsection (4) is subject to any provision of an Act of the Assembly or other Northern Ireland legislation.
 

 

    (6) The Assembly shall not have power under Article 4(1) of the Audit (Northern Ireland) Order 1987 to pass at any time a resolution which reduces the salary payable to a person holding the office of Comptroller and Auditor General for Northern Ireland at that time.
 

Expenses of Northern Ireland Audit Office.

    66. - (1) Standing orders shall make provision for establishing a committee of members of the Assembly to exercise, in place of the Department of Finance and Personnel, the functions conferred on that Department by Article 6(2) of the Audit (Northern Ireland) Order 1987 (expenses of Northern Ireland Audit Office).
 

 

    (2) No more than one member of the committee established under subsection (3) of section 60 may be a member of the committee established under this section.
 

 

    (3) The committee established under this section shall, in discharging its functions, have regard to the advice of the committee established under that subsection and of the Department of Finance and Personnel.
 

Provision of information to Treasury.

    67. - (1) The Treasury may require the Northern Ireland Ministers and departments to provide, within such period as the Treasury may specify, such information, in such form and prepared in such manner, as the Treasury may specify.
 

 

    (2) If the information is not in their possession or under their control, their duty under subsection (1) is to take all reasonable steps to comply with the requirement.
 

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