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This Note sets out the main provisions of the Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) draft Bill published on 11 February 2013. The draft Bill is being given pre-legislative scrutiny by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, beginning on 25 February 2013. Their report is expected to be published by the end of this session.

The draft Bill:

• Gives the Secretary of State power to make transparent the declaration of donations to political parties in Northern Ireland from September 2014;

• Abolishes the practice of double-jobbing, whereby Assembly Members also sit in the House of Commons;

• Modifies the way in which the Justice and Policing Department is allocated to a minister under the d’Hondt process;

• Improves electoral registration procedures,

• Amends the Secretary of State’s power to designate bodies in respect of equalities legislation.

The draft Bill does not alter the number of seats in the Assembly, or set the date of the next election to it. The Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 has postponed the first review of Parliamentary constituency boundaries under the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituency Act 2011 to 2018. The review was expected to reduce the number of Assembly seats, as well as Westminster seats, since the boundaries are co-terminous.

The draft Bill also does not consider the particular make-up of the Northern Ireland Executive, whereby ministries and chairs of committees are allocated by the d’Hondt formula and there is no government or opposition in the usual Westminster sense.

General background on political developments in Northern Ireland is set out in Standard Note 6518 Political Developments in Northern Ireland January to December 2012.

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