Public, Regulatory & Investigations Update: Autumn 2019 – Government Priority Legislation Programme

14 October 2019

The Government Legislation Programme for the next few months is ambitious and geared towards Brexit. While the Programme contains 32 priority pieces of legislation (Bills), experience tells us that there is no guarantee that all the promised Bills will be published.  

The Government Chief Whip, Séan Kyne, in unveiling the programme said;

Several bills on the Priority List are important for our preparations for Brexit including the Family Law (Divorce) Bill and the Health and Childcare Support Bill which will enable healthcare and childcare benefits to continue on a cross-border basis… Despite the significant challenge of Brexit, the Legislation Programme demonstrates that this Government is committed to passing meaningful legislation that supports citizens and communities across Ireland.”

You can access the full programme here

Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht

The Official Languages (Amendment) Bill will introduce a statutory plan for the provision of services in the Irish language and for the recruitment of Irish speakers. Heads approved 30th May 2017, PLS has taken place.


The Health & Childcare Support (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill will provide for the maintenance of certain health benefits to certain residents of Northern Ireland (consequential to the Good Friday Agreement) and to make provision for British citizens to access the National Childcare Scheme on the same basis as Irish citizens in the event of a no deal Brexit. It appears no progress has yet been made on this bill.

The Assisted Human Reproduction Bill will provide a legislative framework for the regulation of assisted human reproduction practices. Heads approved 3rd October 2017, PLS has taken place.

Housing & Planning

The Housing and Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill will provide for the reform of judicial review provisions in the Planning and Development Act 2000 and certain other amendments to planning and housing legislation, including in relation to tenant purchase. Work is underway on the Bill.

The Land Development Agency Bill will establish the Land Development Agency on a primary legislative footing. Heads approved on 18th December 2018 & 9th July 2019, PLS still to be determined

Justice & Equality

The Family Law Bill will reduce the minimum living apart period for spouses applying for divorce and address the implications of a no-deal Brexit for the recognition of UK divorces. Heads approved 9th July 2019, PLS still to be determined. 


While the programme is ambitious and broad in scope, it remains to be seen how much of the Programme will be finalised or initiated before the end of the year. The provisions for Brexit being most pressing, particularly in a no-deal scenario, whilst the reduced waiting time for divorce applications of two years will remove uncertainty for the parties.

For more information on the Government Legislation Programme, contact a member of our Public, Regulatory & Investigations team.

The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.

Discuss your related queries now with Laura Rattigan.

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