The House of Lords is scheduled to debate the Northern Ireland Budget (No. 2) Bill at second reading and all remaining stages on 14 September 2023. The government has published explanatory notes to accompany the bill.

The bill would authorise government departments and certain other bodies in Northern Ireland, such as the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission, Food Standards Agency and Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland, to incur expenditure and use resources for the financial year ending 31 March 2024. The authorised sums would be in line with draft budget allocations set out in a written ministerial statement published on 27 April 2023. The bill would put these budget allocations on a statutory footing and would supersede ‘vote on account’ arrangements provided for in the Northern Ireland Budget Act 2023, which was passed in February 2023. These have allowed Northern Ireland departments and other bodies to continue to deliver services in 2023/24, but only up to a limit of around 65% of the 2022/23 budget. 

The government has asked Parliament to fast track the bill to “safeguard the continued delivery of public services” in Northern Ireland. This is amid the continuing absence of functioning institutions at Stormont. The bill has already passed the House of Commons, where it received its second reading on 10 July 2023 and passed its remaining stages unamended on 4 September 2023.

The Speaker of the House of Commons has certified the bill as a money bill. In practice this limits the extent to which the House of Lords can propose significant changes and means the bill can become law with or without House of Lords approval.


Related posts