Legislation to be introduced by the Executive in 2024

24 May 2024 - by Conor Boyle

The following legislation will be introduced by the Executive in 2024:

The Minister for Communities:

  • The Defective Premises and Limitation Amendment Bill. It was introduced into the Assembly on 20 May for process by Accelerated Passage. Its purpose is to align local legislation regarding limitation periods for defective buildings with other UK jurisdictions.
  • The Pensions (Automatic Enrolment) Bill, also introduced on 20 May, will extend the scope of the current automatic enrolment of jobholders into pension schemes by conferring regulation-making powers on the Department for Communities to change the current age limits and earnings limits.
  • The Child Support Enforcement Bill will make provision for the enforcement of child support maintenance and other maintenance to maintain parity with UK legislation.
  • To recognise, promote and protect both British Sign Language (BSL) and Irish Sign Language (ISL) the Sign Language Bill will guarantee access to services through BSL/ISL and ensure the right for BSL/ISL users to use, develop and preserve BSL/ISL and develop Deaf culture.

The Minister for the Economy:

  • Will introduce legislation relating to her department’s financial powers, to provide a new function for the Utility Regulator and to make provision for the RHI Scheme.
  • A Financial Assistance Bill will resolve issues in relation to some of the Department for the Economy’s financial powers, including powers of financial assistance (which would among other matters permit the department to use Financial Transactions Capital), provision of powers to exempt or remit certain fees in order to alleviate hardship, and the power to form companies. Subject to further consideration, these provisions may be included in a Financial Provisions Bill to be brought forward by the Minister of Finance.
  • The purpose of the Utility Regulator Decarbonisation Powers Bill will be to provide a new function for the Utility Regulator to enable it to support the Department for the Economy in the delivery of the Executive’s Energy Strategy and targets under the Climate Change Act (NI) 2022.
  • An RHI Scheme Bill will make provision for the future of the scheme.

The Minister of Finance:

  • Will introduce the normal Budget Bills as part of the annual financial cycle and a Financial Provisions Bill to reconcile several routine financial matters across departments. As noted earlier, this may include provisions which would otherwise form a separate Financial Assistance Bill by the Department for the Economy.
  • Introduce a Fiscal Council Bill to establish the NI Fiscal Council on a permanent, statutory basis in order to bring greater transparency and independent scrutiny to the current and future state of Northern Ireland’s public finances.

The Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs:

  • A Dilapidation Bill will confer functions on district councils to provide them with a modern, fit for purpose regime to tackle dilapidated / dangerous buildings and sites, including a series of notices, offences, penalties and appeals.
  • The purpose of the Agriculture Bill will be to provide powers to allow the department to transition from, substantially alter, or end the EU legacy Fruit and Vegetable Aid and EU Food Information and Promotions Schemes, as they apply to Northern Ireland.

The Minister for Health:

  • will introduce three bills on the modernisation of public health legislation, adult protection and hospital parking charges respectively.
  • The Public Health Act (Northern Ireland) 1967 is over 50 years old and needs to be updated in order make it fit for purpose to better manage 21st century public health emergencies. A Public Health Bill will replace this Act and widen its scope.
  • The Adult Protection Bill is a response to the Commissioner for Older People’s Home Truths Investigation into Dunmurry Manor Care Home, and the Certified Professional Environmental Auditor’s (CPEA’s) Independent Review into Safeguarding and Care at Dunmurry Manor. It will introduce additional protections to underpin and strengthen the adult protection process and align this with best practice in other jurisdictions.
  • The Hospital Parking Charges Bill was introduced in the Assembly on 15 April and progressed by accelerated passage to Final Stage on 7 May. Its purpose is to defer by two years the operational commencement date of the Hospital Parking Charges Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 for the purposes of developing a funding plan for the implementation of free parking at the end of the postponement.

The Minister of Justice:

  • plans to make legislative provision for several justice purposes, primarily relating to the retention of fingerprints and DNA profiles, and other provisions about child bail, remand and custody.
  • A Justice Bill will additionally include other new provisions relating to the separation of children and adults in custody and various other matters.

The Minister for Infrastructure:

  • will introduce a Water, Flooding and Sustainable Drainage Bill to provide new and additional powers across seven areas of water, flooding and drainage legislation.

First Minister and deputy First Minister:  

  • will introduce a Bill on Mother and Baby Homes, Magdalene Laundries & Workhouse Public Inquiry and Financial Redress. Its purpose is to establish a Statutory Public Inquiry to investigate issues of individual, institutional, organisational and state departmental/agent responsibility for human rights violations experienced in Mother and Baby Institutions, Magdalene Laundries and Workhouses between 1922 and 1995. It will further include provision for The Executive Office to establish a Redress Service to administer financial redress schemes.