Legislative Consent Motions, Order in Council – What do they mean?

Following the agreement and publication of “A Fresh Start” we are going to hear the terms ‘Legislative Consent Motion’ and ‘Order in Council’ a lot more, but what do they mean?

A legislative consent motion (LCM) is a motion passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly which agrees that the UK Parliament can pass legislation over an issue which the Assembly has regular authority.

This week’s LCM on welfare reform is a good example, you can read the debate on it here.

The text of an LCM is written as follows:

That this Assembly consents to the Northern Ireland (Welfare Reform) Bill 2015 being taken forward by the Westminster Parliament; approves the welfare clauses of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill as initially introduced at Westminster; the draft Welfare Reform (Northern Ireland) Order 2015; and the Executive’s proposals to enhance payments flowing from the agreement announced on 17 November 2015.”

 

An Order in Council is a form of Statutory Instrument and can take the form of either primary or secondary legislation. Orders in Council are dealt with in section 85 of the 1998 Northern Ireland Act. 

For the majority of periods of Direct Rule legislation governing Northern Ireland was made by Order in Council.

The House of Commons Research Department has producing this useful briefing on Statutory Instruments in which they state that Orders in Council “are used for a wide variety of purposes, and particularly where an ordinary statutory instrument made by a Minister would be inappropriate.”

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