Amendment tabled to Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill

Dominic Grieve, the former attorney general, has tabled an amendment aimed at preventing the next Prime Minister from proroguing Parliament and forcing through a no deal Brexit.

The amendment has been tabled to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill. The Bill’s primary purpose is to extend the legal deadline on the appointment of Northern Ireland ministers to 21 October 2019. The main parties in Northern Ireland have so far failed to establish a new power-sharing executive, following the Assembly elections that took place on 2nd March 2017.

The Bill also requires the Northern Ireland secretary to report on progress towards the formation of an executive.

Grieve’s amendment would extend the requirement for a report on progress to demand one every fortnight. Crucially, the amendment would also demand that the Queen recall Parliament to meet if it is prorogued five days after a report is made.

Legal experts however have drawn into question the Queen’s role in Grieve’s proposals. Proroguing Parliament is a prerogative power exercised by the Queen on the advice of her government. Likewise, the summoning of Parliament once prorogued is also a prerogative power.

To change the Queen’s prerogative powers by changing the law, she must first consent. This is known as Queen’s Consent.

The Bill is due to go through all its remaining stages in the House of Commons on Tuesday (9th June). Before the debate, the Speaker will rule whether Grieve’s amendment is in order and can be debated and voted on by MPs.