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The Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill 2023-24 was introduced in the House of Commons on Wednesday 24 January 2024. All its Commons stages are expected to take place the same day.

Currently, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is under a legal obligation to call a further Northern Ireland Assembly election. This is because the deadline (18 January 2024) for the formation of a Northern Ireland Executive provided for under section 1 of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Organ and Tissue Donation) Act 2023 has passed without ministerial offices being filled.

The Bill seeks retrospectively to extend the period for the formation of an Executive from 18 January 2024 to 8 February 2024. This means that the Secretary of State will no longer be obliged to call an election until after 8 February.

According to the Bill’s Explanatory Notes, the Government believes “providing a short extension to the Executive Formation period will provide the opportunity to try and imminently restore devolved Governance in Northern Ireland”.

The text of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill and its Explanatory Notes are available on the Government website (with the permission of Mr Speaker). They will appear on the Bill pages on the Parliamentary website after the Bill’s formal presentation and first reading.

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