Local Government (Meetings and Performance) Bill - As Amended at Further Consideration Stage

Local Government (Meetings and Performance) Bill

[AS AMENDED AT FURTHER CONSIDERATION STAGE]

CONTENTS

PART 1

Meetings and performance

Conduct of meetings

1.Meetings: effect of regulations under the Coronavirus Act

2.Meetings: power to make provision about remote meetings

Performance improvement

3.Performance: certain rules deemed as not applying (2020/21)

4.Performance: power to alter various rules (2021/22)

PART 2

Final provisions

5.Updated reference to the Department

6.Commencement and short title

 

A

Bill

to

Make provision relating to requirements as to meetings and performance of district councils.

BE IT ENACTED by being passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly and assented to by Her Majesty as follows:

PART 1

MEETINGS AND PERFORMANCE

Conduct of meetings

Meetings: effect of regulations under the Coronavirus Act

1.—(1) In section 78 (local authority meetings) of the Coronavirus Act 2020, subsection (3) is repealed.

(2) The Local Government (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of District Council Meetings) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 have effect on and after the day on which this Act comes into operation as if never (and are to be treated as having been made as if not) subject to the provision repealed by this section.

Meetings: power to make provision about remote meetings

2.—(1) The Department for Communities may by regulations make provision for the purpose of or in connection with ensuring that district council meetings may be held remotely.

(2) Regulations under this section may include provision as to⁠—

(a); how district council meetings held remotely may be facilitated,

(b); how persons may attend, speak at, vote in or otherwise participate in such meetings when held remotely.

(3) Regulations under this section may include provision for standing orders of district councils to⁠—

 (a); specify the basis or process for considering whether (including who is to assess or decide whether) district council meetings should or are to be held remotely,

 (b); govern the arrangements for and conduct of such meetings whenever such meetings are to be held remotely,

(c); regulate⁠—

(i); the public’s access to such meetings,

(ii); the availability to the public of documents pertaining to such meetings, whenever such meetings are to be held remotely.

(4) Regulations under this section may⁠—

(a); disapply or modify statutory provisions (as construed in accordance with section 1(f) of the Interpretation Act (Northern Ireland) 1954),

(b); contain supplementary, incidental, consequential, transitional, transitory or saving provision.

(5) Regulations under this section may not be made unless a draft of them has been laid before and approved by a resolution of the Assembly.

(6) For the purpose of this section, meetings are held remotely if they are held without all of the persons attending them, or without any of those persons, being together in the same place.

(7) In this section, the references to district council meetings are to meetings of⁠—

(a); district councils,

(b); executives of such councils (as provided for in Part 6 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014),

(c); joint committees of two or more such councils,

(d); committees or sub-committees of such councils, executives or joint committees.

(8) This section is without prejudice to section 78 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 (but see sections 88 to 90 of that Act).

Performance improvement

Performance: certain rules deemed as not applying (2020/21)

3.—(1) The relevant requirements of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014 are to be regarded as having no effect (and as having never had effect) with respect to financial year 2020/21.

(2) The relevant requirements of that Act are⁠—

(a); section 85 of that Act (together with sections 90(1)(a) and 92(2)(a)(ii) of that Act),

(b); section 87 of that Act,

(c); section 92(4) and (5) of that Act.

(3) The rest of Part 12 of that Act is to be taken to apply (and to have applied) subject to this section.

(4) The reference in this section to financial year 2020/21 is to the financial year ending on 31st March 2021.

Performance: power to alter various rules (2021/22)

4.—(1) The Department for Communities may by regulations disapply or modify, with respect to financial year 2021/22, any provision in Part 12 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014.

(2) Regulations under this section may contain provision stating that they are to be treated as if having had effect since the start of financial year 2021/22 (and that Part 12 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014 is to be regarded as having had effect accordingly since then).

(3) Regulations under this section may contain supplementary, incidental, consequential, transitional, transitory or saving provision.

(4) Regulations under this section may not be made unless a draft of them has been laid before and approved by a resolution of the Assembly.

(5) The references in this section to financial year 2021/22 are to the financial year ending on 31st March 2022.

PART 2

FINAL PROVISIONS

Updated reference to the Department

5. In section 126 (interpretation) of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014, in the definition of “the Department” in subsection (1), for “the Department of the Environment” substitute “the Department for Communities”.

Commencement and short title

6.—(1) This Act comes into operation on the day after receiving Royal Assent.

(2) This Act may be cited as the Local Government (Meetings and Performance) Act (Northern Ireland) 2021.

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