Consideration of the Statutory Rule: The Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2004 (Amendment of section 8(4)) Order (Northern Ireland) 2015

Session: 2014/2015

Date: 03 March 2015

Reference: NIA 236/11-16

ISBN: 978-0-339-60565-7

Mandate Number: 2011/16

Consideration of the Statutory Rule The Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2004 (Amendment of Section 8(4)) Order (Northern Ireland) 2015.pdf (2.08 mb)

Executive Summary

The Ad Hoc Committee (the Committee) was established on 10 February 2015, under Standing Order 53(1), when the Assembly agreed a Business Committee motion laid at the request of the Committee on Procedures (COP), as part of a pilot project it wished to initiate. A reporting date of 18 March 2015 was agreed.

The remit of the Committee was to consider the findings of the scrutiny committee (Committee for Justice) and the Examiner of Statutory Rules and to report on whether the Statutory Rule in question[1] should be approved.

The Committee was not required to repeat the work of the scrutiny committee.

Members considered evidence from the Examiner of Statutory Rules, the Committee for Justice and the Attorney General for Northern Ireland and concluded that the Statutory Rule entitled: “The Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2004 (Amendment of section 8(4)) Order (Northern Ireland) 2015” should be approved by the Assembly.

Introduction and Background

Purpose of the Ad Hoc Committee

1. The Ad Hoc Committee (the Committee) was established on 10 February 2015, under Standing Order 53(1), when the Assembly agreed a Business Committee motion laid at the request of the Committee on Procedures (COP), as part of a pilot project it wished to initiate. A reporting date of 18 March 2015 was set for the Committee.

2. The COP pilot was designed to test a process for the management of Statutory Rules laid by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland (AGNI) that are subject to draft affirmative resolution[2], and had been devised as part of the COP ongoing inquiry into “The extent to which Standing Orders should permit the Attorney General for Northern Ireland to participate in proceedings of the Assembly”.

3. The terms of reference of the Committee were to consider the findings of the scrutiny committee (Committee for Justice), the Examiner of Statutory Rules (ESR) and the AGNI and to report on whether the Statutory Rule (SR) in question[3] should be approved. It was also required to facilitate bringing the SR to the Assembly to allow it to be approved.

4. The Committee was not required to repeat the work of the scrutiny committee.

Background

5. One of the responsibilities of the AGNI is to provide guidance on human rights standards to a list of criminal justice organisations as set out in section 8 of the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2004.

6. While the guidance itself is issued in the form of Statutory Rules subject to negative resolution, any changes to the list of organisations to which the guidance is issued must, under section 21(2) of the same legislation[4], be subject to draft affirmative resolution.

7. In June 2013 the AGNI advised the Committee for Justice (CJ) of his intention to lay such an SR, in order to add the PSNI to the list of organisations to which he issues guidance on human rights standards.

8. The CJ engaged with the AGNI over a period of months in order to fulfil its scrutiny of the proposed SR and, following its deliberations and informal agreement with the proposal contained within the SR, the SR entitled: “The Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2004 (Amendment of section 8(4)) Order (Northern Ireland) 2015” was laid by the AGNI on 16 January 2015.

9. Having been advised of the laying of the SR, the Committee on Procedures wrote to the Speaker, as Chairperson of the Business Committee, requesting that a motion to establish the Ad Hoc Committee be brought to the Assembly.

The Committee’s Approach

10. The Committee first met on 17 February 2015, when it considered evidence from two sources.

11. The first was a report from the ESR dated 30 January 2015[5]. This stated that in the opinion of the ESR, the SR contained no technical defects and was therefore recommended to be progressed.

12. The second was evidence provided by the CJ. This included information provided by the AGNI[6], setting out that he was content for the Rule to progress and confirmation from the CJ that, it too, had no issue with the SR and that it was minded to support the proposal contained within the Rule[7].

Conclusions and Recommendation

13. Having considered the views of all stakeholders and assured itself of the technical accuracy of the SR, the Committee agreed that no further evidence was required to inform its decision making.

14. The Committee therefore recommended that the SR: “The Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2004 (Amendment of section 8(4)) Order (Northern Ireland) 2015” be approved by the Assembly.

15. The Committee also agreed that as well as agreeing a motion to bring its report to the Assembly for debate, it would write to the Speaker, as Chairperson of the Business Committee, requesting that the Business Committee bring forward a Business Committee motion to be taken immediately following the debate on the Committee report, to approve the SR.


[1]                  The Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2004 (Amendment of section 8(4)) Order (Northern Ireland) 2015 – at Appendix 2
[2]                  Section 21(2) of the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2004
[3]                  The Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2004 (Amendment of section 8(4)) Order (Northern Ireland) 2015 – at Appendix 2
[4]                  The Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2004
[5]                  Report from Examiner of Statutory Rules – included at Appendix 3
[6]                  Hansard of Evidence Session on 6 June 2013 – included at Appendix 3
[7]                  Minutes of Justice Committee meeting on 4 February 2015 – included at Appendix 3

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