The House of Lords will debate a motion about the newly created Independent Monitoring Authority on 8 July 2020.
The Draft Northern Ireland Act 1998 (Section 75—Designation of Public Authority) Order 2020 relates to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The Government has established a new Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements, known as the IMA, to monitor EU and EEA citizens’ rights after the end of the transition period. Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 requires designated public authorities to comply with certain statutory equality duties. Because the IMA, as a UK-wide body, will exercise functions relating to Northern Ireland, this order designates the IMA as a public authority for the purposes of section 75. If approved, the order would ensure the IMA is subject to the statutory equality duties applicable to a designated public authority carrying out functions in Northern Ireland.
The order is a draft affirmative instrument and was laid before both Houses on 8 June 2020. The House of Commons considered the order in a delegated legislation committee meeting held on 1 July 2020, before approving the order the next day. The House of Lords is scheduled to debate an approval motion on 8 July 2020. If approved, the order will come into force the following day.
What would it do?
The order’s single substantive provision states:
The Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements (being a body listed in Schedule 2 to the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967(b) (which lists departments etc. subject to investigation by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration)) is designated for the purposes of section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (which places statutory duties on public authorities).
This would make the IMA a “public authority” for the purposes of section 75. The IMA would therefore be subject to the two following statutory equality duties:
- the need to promote equality of opportunity (a) between persons of different religious belief, political opinion, racial group, age, marital status or sexual orientation; (b) between men and women generally; (c) between persons with a disability and persons without; and (d) between persons with dependants and persons without; and
- the desirability of promoting good relations between persons of different religious belief, political opinion or racial group.
What is the IMA?
Section 15 of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 provides for the creation of an Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements, to be known as the IMA. This was required to implement international legal obligations under article 159 of the withdrawal agreement and article 64 of the European Economic Area European Free Trade Area (EEA EFTA) Separation Agreement. The IMA will monitor the UK’s implementation and application of the citizens’ rights sections of these agreements from the end of the transition period, expected to be 31 December 2020.
The IMA has been established as a new operationally independent arms-length body of the Ministry of Justice. Dr Kathryn Chamberlain, previously the chief executive of the Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, was appointed as interim chief executive on 5 March 2020. The body will be based in Swansea and has begun to recruit staff.
Parliamentary scrutiny of the order
The order was laid before both Houses on 8 June 2020. It was not reported by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments. However, the House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee did note it as an instrument of interest.
The order was debated by a delegated legislation committee in the House of Commons on 1 July 2020. Alex Chalk, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Justice and the minister responsible for the IMA, explained the rationale for the measure. Peter Kyle, speaking on behalf of the Labour Party, stated that the Opposition supported the order. He added that he “hope[d] that it represents another step forward in the formation of the IMA as the truly independent and effective body that it desperately needs to be”.
- UK Parliament website, ‘Statutory Instruments: Northern Ireland Act 1998 (Section 75—Designation of Public Authority) Order 2020’, accessed 3 July 2020
- Ministry of Justice, Statutory Instruments: Northern Ireland Act 1998 (Section 75—Designation of Public Authority) Order 2020—Explanatory Memorandum, 8 June 2020
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