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Devolution: Northern Ireland

Volume 686: debated on Tuesday 7 November 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have the power to cap or change the rating system in the event that power is devolved to an Administration in Northern Ireland.[HL8002]

An enabling power has been included within the Rates (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Order 2006, which would allow a restored Assembly to introduce a range of measures, including a valuation cap, and doing so by bringing forward the necessary regulations. As rating matters are a transferred power within the terms of the Northern Ireland Act, the devolved Administration would have the power to make such changes and in those circumstances it would not be a matter for the Government.

The Government have agreed that a cap should be introduced as part of the St Andrews agreement.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether any new arrangements for intervention in Northern Ireland's affairs by the Government of the Republic of Ireland would be subject to approval by the United Kingdom Parliament or a Northern Ireland Assembly.[HL8003]

At present, institutional and constitutional relationships between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are governed by strands 2 and 3 of the Belfast agreement, relevant international agreements and the related provisions in the Northern IrelandAct 1998 which provide for the North/South Ministerial Council, the British-Irish Council and the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference. Changes to these arrangements would require the approval of either Parliament or any restored Northern Ireland Assembly. Co-operation between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland under these existing frameworks does not necessarily require parliamentary or Assembly approval.