Assess the effectiveness of the assembly since devolution was restored in 2007
The Northern Ireland Assembly is the devolved legislature for Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Assembly was established as a result of the Good Friday agreement of 10 April 1998. The Agreement was endorsed through a referendum held on 22 May 1998 and subsequently given legal force through the Northern Ireland Act 1998. It led to the creation of a series of interrelated bodies, in particular the Northern Ireland Assembly, which has full legislative and executive authority for all matters that are the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Government Departments- transferred matters (education or health). ...view middle of the document...
Committee stage follows with a detailed investigation into the bill followed by a report and notification of amendments. Committees can call for additional persons or papers when examining a bill. Members then vote on any amendments suggested by the committee with the bill proceeding if amendments are agreed on and made. Final stage is where assembly debates on whether to pass the bill. If all of this is completed successfully the bill is given royal assent and made an act of law.
In the first session after devolution was restored in 2007 a total of 24 bill were introduced of which 8 bills became acts of law. While this shows us that the assembly may not have proved effective in creating of laws it must also be accounted for that they just proved too over ambitious in their first session on return. It can be seen however that as the sessions proceeded more bill began to become acts of law as in the 2010-2011 session 17 out of 26 executive bill became acts. The first bill introduced after devolution was restored was the welfare reform bill. It was introduced to the assembly on the 4th of June 2007 completing the process by 29th of June 2007. The bill received accelerated passage through committee stage but the assembly proved effective in establishing a law. Most bills do take longer to complete the legislative process with many running into following sessions. The goods vehicle bill is a good example of this. It was introduced on the 12th of May 2008, took 2 sessions- 19 months to make its way through the process and received royal assent on the 22nd of January 2010. Although this bill failed to be passed in one session it shows that they still continued considering into the next session as a way on ensuring those bill which would prove useful for the wider public become acts.
In general terms it can be seen that since the restoration of devolution in 2007 the assembly has become more effective at establishing laws. Although few were passed in the first session on return, more received royal assent in future sessions with non- executive bills becoming acts e.g. 4 out of the 13 were passed in the 2010-2011 session. Although this is quite small it has increased from the 2007-2009 sessions where most if any made it to committees.
Another function of the NI assembly is that of scrutiny. Due to the consociationalist nature of the Ni assembly and executive i.e. one which has to accommodate diverse interests there is no formal opposition to policies. The role of scrutinising and challenging decisions taken by the executive fell to committees mainly statutory committees. However the assembly carries out scrutiny in two other ways apart from committees. These include question time and plenary meetings.
The Good Friday agreement specified that the: “committees will have a scrutiny, policy development and consultation role with respect to the department with which is associated and will have a role in the initiation of legislation” (strand one...