Clause 81 - Excepted matters: judicial office-holders

Part of Justice (Northern Ireland) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 10:45 am ar 14 Chwefror 2002.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Des Browne Des Browne Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Northern Ireland Office, Parliamentary Secretary (Northern Ireland Office) 10:45, 14 Chwefror 2002

I rise to speak about this clause only because it refers to the issues surrounding the distinction among excepted, reserved and transferred matters, which have periodically exercised the Committee. It is incumbent upon me to explain, given some the questions that have been asked, although I will address some of those questions later.

The review recommended that the appointment and removal of judicial office holders should be devolved. The Northern Ireland Assembly cannot legislate about the appointment or removal of specific judicial office holders, because it is an excepted matter under the Northern Ireland Act 1998. The clause provides for the appointment and removal of judicial office holders to become a reserved matter in preparation for the transfer by order of those powers from Westminster to the Northern Ireland Assembly once responsibility for justice matters is devolved, as recommended by the review.

Hon. Members will appreciate that it is not possible to devolve matters to the devolved Administration by order under the Northern Ireland Act 1998 from the excepted category directly to the transferred category. An order can only devolve reserved matters, so the clause provides for the appointment and removal of judges to be recategorised as a reserved matter.

The review recommended that judges' salaries should continue to be fixed by reference to their equivalents in England and Wales, which are within the remit of the Senior Salaries Review Board. As a result, remuneration, superannuation and other terms and conditions of holders of judicial offices-other than those relating to removal from office-are to remain an excepted matter. Determination of the salaries of the president and other members of the Lands Tribunal for Northern Ireland is, however, the responsibility of the department of finance and personnel, and will remain so.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 81 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 82 and 83 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 12 agreed to.

Clause 84 ordered to stand part of the Bill.