Presentation on theme: "Home of the Northern Ireland Assembly"— Presentation transcript:
1 Home of the Northern Ireland Assembly Parliament BuildingsParliament Buildings is the name given to the place where the Northern Ireland Assembly meets. We will tell you all about the building and its history later, during the tour.This presentation will look mainly at the powers of the Northern Ireland Assembly – and how it works.Home of the Northern Ireland Assembly
2 The Northern Ireland Assembly Established under the ‘Belfast/Good Friday Agreement’ of 10 April 1998.First election to the Assembly – 25 June 1998.Power was first handed over on 2 December 1999.The Assembly was suspended on 14 October 2002.Second elections to the Assembly – 26 Nov 2003.St Andrews Agreement – 13 October 2006Third election – 7 March 2007Powers were restored on 8 May 2007.NotesAgreement between Br and Ir govts and most political parties in NI – but not the DUP3 strands to the AgreementStrand One – internal governing arrangements for NI – assembly, executive, civic forumCivic forum – reps from business, trade union, voluntary organisations to be consulted by gov on certain policy issues.Strand 2 - North/South InstitutionsStrand 3 - East/West InstitutionsA consociational model of democracy81% turnout in referendumFirst elections held on the 25th June 1998 Assembly met in ‘shadow’ form (first meeting 1 July 1998)Power was not handed over until midnight 1 Dec – because of disagreements over the issue of getting rid of weapons/guns etc.First meeting with powers was 6th Dec 1999.Suspended Feb to May 2000 and Oct 02 to May 07Second elections – DUP and SF became 2 main partiesSt Andrew’s – the DUP came on board – SF signed up to policing. IRA had decommissioned weapons in 2005.
3 Constituency Map ELECTIONS – every 4 years (initial term of 5 years) 18 constituencies – drawn according to population size (reviewed every 8-12 years, last one 16 May 2003).108 MLAs elected – 6 per constituency. We have 1 member for 16,200 peopleUK – 89,000 per MP; Scotland – 39,000 per MSP; Wales – 48,000 per AM; Dail – 20-30,000 per TDWe use Single Transferable Vote, a proportional system.Rather than put an X you can rank all the candidates on the ballot papers. You state your preference by ranking them in numerical order with 1 being first preference, 2 your second, etc.A quota of votes is identified for candidates to be elected (a set target for each constituency). (Calculated by dividing no. of valid votes cast by no of seats available + 1.(and adding 1)) How many seats available? 6 Add +1=? 7. This means quota is 1/7th of valid votes cast +1. So if 700 valid votes were cast what would the quota be? 100+1=101At the first stage of the count all the 1s are counted and if the candidate reaches the quota with the 1st preferences they have received they are deemed elected.Few will have the exact quota, if they have more votes than the quota they have a surplus which will be redistributed to the 2nd preference on the paper. Would it be fair to just redistribute the extra ?all the candidate’s transferable ballot papers (those with a 2nd preference) are redistributed, otherwise no way of ensuring the surplus is representative. But at a transfer value (or fractional percentage of one vote sum: surplus/ transferable ballot papers for candidate). This reduces the value of each vote transferred, so that total redistributed vote does not exceed candidate’s surplus.Complicated system so if we take an example of a candidate needing 9 votes to be elected. They receive 10 1st preference votes so what is their surplus? 1 deemed elected with a surplus of 1. All their 10 ballot papers had a 2nd preference and will be redistributed at a transfer/percentage value to make sure that when the votes from the 10 ballot papers are added up the total will not exceed the surplus of 1, so if 10 papers are to be redistributed, if the total value when they are added up is 1, what is the value of each paper- 1/10 = 1/10th of a vote. So a candidate can get votes, the 2 decimal places indicating they have received transfers.Candidates with least number of votes in each round also eliminated & their votes redistributed.This helps the smaller parties as they can get seats through second and third preference votes.It also means voters can choose between candidates of the same party as well as between those of different parties.
4 Current Party Representation Democratic Unionist Party36Sinn Fein28Ulster UnionistParty18Social Democratic and Labour Party16In the 1st Assembly in 1998 we had 10 parties represented and 2 independent candidates. (14 women elected, 15 at dissolution)In 2003 election, 7 parties represented, 1 independent.But the numbers have changed since the election.Does anyone know why there is not the same number of members in the DUP or UUP any more?18th December 2003, 3 UUP members left party and joined the DUP on 5th January 2004 : Jeffrey Donaldson LV, Norah Beare LV, Arlene Foster F&ST.Salary is £31,817 which is 70% of £41,321IndependentHealth Coalition1The Alliance Party7Progressive Unionist Party1Green Party1Total = 108 MLAs* formed 16 May 2007
5 Northern Ireland Assembly Party Leaders DUPSFUUPSDLPAPNIPUPGreenPartyMemberIndHealthCoalitionIanPaisleyRegEmpeyGerryAdamsDo you recognise any of these faces?Democratic Unionist Party – Dr Ian PaisleyUlster Unionist Party – David TrimbleSinn Fein – Gerry AdamsSocial, Democratic and Labour Party – Mark DurkanAlliance Party – David FordProgressive Unionist Party – David ErvineUnited Kingdom Unionist Party – Robert McCartneyMarkDurkanDavidFordDawn PurvisBrian WilsonKieran Deeny
6 DevolutionThe Northern Ireland Assembly is a devolved institution.Bullet 1 Powers have been devolved or transferred from the UK Parliament at Westminster to the Northern Ireland Assembly.Q Where else in the UK has power been devolved to? Scotland and Wales Note that Wales can’t pass Acts (Primary Legislation), only secondary legislation. Scottish Parliament is the most powerful devolved legislature as it has tax varying powers.Bullet 2 – What is the point of devolution? Big selling point of the Agreement Locally elected representatives make decisions that affect local people and can be held accountable for those decisions – should mean more responsive, representative and immediate government. (‘democratic deficit’ under DR).Bullet 3 – called reserved and excepted matters.Bullet 4 – unlikely to happen in Scotland/Wales, but has happened here!4 suspensions since then:11 Feb to 30 May 2000, 10 August 2001, 21 September 20012 one day suspensions were technical to give extra time to reach agreement and re-elect FM/DFM. David Trimble had resigned in July. The NI Act states that if a FM/DFM is not elected within 6 weeks, new Assembly elections have to be held.Last suspension from 14 Oct 02. Dissolved April 28th Elections held 26th NovAll suspensions a result of Unionist unhappiness at lack of progress on IRA decommissioning and doubt over commitment to peaceful means only.Suspension – Assembly and Committees can’t conduct business: Ministers lose positions. Sec of State takes over responsibility supported by 4 Junior Ministers – Direct Rule. Civic Forum funding ceases. NSMC unable to meet, but 2 govts take over its decision making functions to allow continued operation of N-S implementation bodies. 8 Dec proposals – repeal of NI Act 2000 which provides fro suspension.Bullet 5 – When devolved government is up and running, we have 2 governments. Still have a British SoS to represent NI’s interests in UK Cabinet. Still elect MPs to the UK Parliament.Background note. Devolved government is not new to Northern Ireland – there was devolved government here for 51 years, commencing ? (1921) After a period of serious political unrest and violence, from 1968 to 1972, powers were removed from the ‘old Stormont’ government and Direct Rule began.Direct Rule supposed to be temp arrangement. Always intention of British gov to re-establish form of devolved gov acceptable to both sides of community.Q What were the 2 previous devolution experiments before the Belfast/GFA?- 1. Power-sharing Exec set up under Sunningdale Agreement Created devolved, power-sharing govt (78 member assembly) and Council of Ireland. GFA called ’Sunningdale Mark II. ‘..for slow learners’. Irish dimension too strong for many unionists and many objected to power-sharing, arguing majority rule more democratic. Feb 74 general election, 11/12 Unionists elected anti Agreement. May 74, exec collapsed, brought down by the U Workers’ Council strike. United Ulster Unionist Council against power sharing with SDLP and Council of Ireland idea.James Prior’s rolling devolution. Gradual handing devolution to a 78-member NI Assembly as cross-community co-operation became established. Assembly would start off with only consultative and scrutiny role (discuss NI legislation and set up committees to scrutinise the 6 government depts), power would be devolved to NI Depts one at a time if 70% members agreed – to ensure cross-community support. SDLP and SF took part in the election, but boycotted Assembly – policy of abstentionism. (SF’s first election – got 10% of the vote). Absence of SDLP made it impossible to achieve necessary cc support for devolution to happen. Dissolved 23 June 1986.The transfer of certain powers from a central government to a regional government.Allows decisions to be made at a level closer to the people they affect.Central government retains power over certain areas.Northern Ireland continues to elect MPs to House of CommonsThe Secretary of State continues to represent NI’s interests in Cabinet.
7 The Governance of Northern Ireland AssemblyExecutive Committee ‘Cabinet’The institutions of government set up under Strand 1 of the Agreement include the Assembly and the Executive Committee. – and Committees.We’ll talk about Committees later.When power was devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly it was given full legislative and executive authority (power) over transferred matters.Legislative power means the power to make laws and ensure that the executive implement any changes.Executive power – power of government. The Assembly appoints the Executive to discharge Executive authority (power) on its behalf with Ministers taking charge of the various responsiblities of government.Lets look at each of these in turn…108 Elected MembersincludingSpeaker & Deputy SpeakersFirst and Deputy First Ministers10 Executive Department MinistersThe Committee System
9 The SpeakerElected by the House to preside over meetings of the NI AssemblyMaintains a politically neutral stance – has no vote.Ensures that procedures are followed and order is maintained in the Chamber.3 Deputy Speakers:John Dallat SDLPFrancie Molloy SFDavid McClarty UUPLord Alderdice was chosen by the Secretary of State when the Assembly was in shadow form and remained in the position when power was devolved – as he was unopposed the Assembly decided not to have an election. All future speakers and deputy speakers will be elected from the 108 MLAs, 1st item of business at 1st plenary.Speaker must be politically neutral and is not allowed a vote in the chamber.Final ruling when there is a doubt over interpretation, can establish conventions that have similar standing to SO providing they do not contradict Act/Agreement.The Speaker also has a role in determining whether Bills are within the legislative competence of the Assembly. He chairs the Business Committee which schedules plenary business and recommends membership of committees. He also has a role in the selection of questions and decides whether PNQs will be allowed. If someone refuses to appear before a committee or submit required papers, the Speaker can order them to comply.It is a criminal offence not to obey an order from the Speaker.Order – parliamentary privilege and unparliamentary language, Speaker’s convention, can expel from the chamber (4 times), 2 others expelled for disregarding Speaker.24 Oct 2000 – ruling on statement by Ian Paisley Jnr calling M McGuinness liar during Question time on 23rd (no points of order allowed during QT) Mr Paisley accepted ruling stating he would be named and asked to withdraw from chamber if statement wasn’t withdrawn, and withdrew before being named).20 Nov 2000 – J Wells ‘2 ministers terrorists’, said on 13th, Speaker ruled on 20th, wouldn’t withdraw statement, and asked to withdraw from the chamber28 Jan 2002 – Norman Boyd called G McHugh ‘murderer’, asked to withdraw by Sir John Gorman10 Sep 2002 – Patrick Roche called G Kelly ‘murderer’, asked to withdraw by Jim WilsonNote: 18 Dec 2000 Speaker ruled unsubstantiated claims re criminal behaviour are ‘unparliamentary’Withdrawn due to refusing to resume seat : 26 February 2002 – Bob McCartney; 8 October 2002 – Ken RobinsonCurrent Speaker did not stand for re-election. Lord Alderdice then retired as Speaker 26th Feb 2004, the Deputy Speaker’s will fulfil the requirements of the Office until a new Speaker is elected e.g. MLAs changing parties which brings up an interesting issue for the parties – to nominate a Speaker from their ranks and lose a vote, also big decision for an individual MLA – no political voice for 4 years, difficult to get re-elected, etc. Compare to Westminster and Dail.The 3 Deputy Speakers were Donovan McClelland SDLP, Jane Morrice NIWC and Jim Wilson UUP, 2 of whom were not re-elected.Mr William Hay MLA
10 What’s happening now?A Draft Programme for Government is in preparation.Plenary debates on topics of interest to MLAs.Statutory Committees established; each is being briefed by Depts and formulating forward work plans.Executive is considering legislative programme
11 2007/2008 Legislative Programme Taxis BillLibraries BillEducation Structures BillPublic Authorities Reform BillDiseases of Animals BillRoad Freight Licensing BillPensions BillPresumption of Death BillCharities BillBudget BillsBuilding Regulations BillCivil Registration BillHealth (Miscellaneous Provisions) BillChildren (Emergency Protection Orders) BillPublic Health (Amendment) BillChild Maintenance BillMesothelioma Bill
12 Assembly Operation Monday and Tuesday sittings (public) Question Time on Mondays pmAdjournment debatesWritten and oral questionsBullet 1Starts at noon on Monday, on Tuesday – attempt to be family friendly!Bullet 2This is public meeting and any member of the public can view plenary sessions from the public gallery by coming in like you have today, getting a pass, and being escorted to the public gallery to observe proceedings. Seats are allocated on a first come, first served basis.It is strictly to observe though and those in the gallery must not interrupt proceedings or they will be escorted out again!!Bullet 3The session begins with time for private reflection - the public are not present at this stage.Bullet 4 – the quorum is 10, including the SpeakerBullet 5Executive Business: usually consideration of Bills being brought forward – or could be an update on a current crisis – a Ministerial statement, eg, Foot and Mouth.Committee Business, eg, reportsQuestions – which we will look at in a momentAdjournment Debate: proposed by a backbencher and usually deal with constituency related matter. Eg condition of ‘A’ class roads in West Tyrone, or maternity provision in S. Belfast (M. McWilliams). No vote.The Official Report – Hansard – a day to day record of the Assembly – what is said and what decisions are made.
13 CommitteesMost of the day-to-day work of the Assembly is done in Committees.3 types of Committees:StatutoryStandingAd HocMembership of Committees broadly reflects party strength in the Assembly.Most Committees have 11 members.Meetings are usually held weekly and last 2 – 3 hours.Committees are very important in the Northern Ireland Assembly. As the 4 main parties are in the Govt/Executive there is no ‘official opposition’.This main opposition role has been given to Committees. This is a very different system than under Direct Rule, when local politicians have no say in Dept decision making. Under devolution Committees can keep a very close eye on the work of Departments and influence policy. They scrutinise the Ministers and their Departments and try to ensure that they do a good job. It it where most of the day-to-day business is done, as MLAs get a chance to get together in smaller groups and concentrate on specific issues.Bullet 2Statutory – which shadow ministers and departmentsStanding - set up to help the business of the AssemblyAd-hoc committees, as name suggests, exist for as long as they deal with particular issues e.g. proceeds of crimeBullet 3D’Hondt is used to allocate chairs and deputy chairs, and it is expected that parties will choose a Committee in which they do not already have an interest i.e. a ministerial post. This ensures proportionality/power sharing and effective scrutiny.Bullet 4There are usually 11 MLAs on a committee (usually 3,3,2,2,1 other).The 11 members of each statutory committee are representative of make up of parties and most committees comprise members from at least five of the political parties (3,3,2,2,1). Decisions therefore are cross party and if debated on the floor should be supported by all parties.Bullet 5All MLAs are offered places on Committees, however not all choose to take them up. There were 184 committee places, and out of the 108 MLAs elected to the first mandate 84 MLAs sat on committees. Ministers obviously can’t, and some key party members also chose not to, eg. Gerry Adams, John Taylor.V heavy work load for some MLAs, 25 sitting on 3 or more committees, with 8 on 4.All Committee meetings are recorded on audio, and a written record is kept.Lets have a brief look at the different types….
14 Committee Inquiry Process Terms of ReferenceWritten EvidenceOral EvidencePublished ReportCommittees usually go about their work by holding inquiries into various mattersThey set terms of reference which should be specific and time boundWritten evidence – usually advertise the inquiry in the press and invite written submissions – often write to key stakeholders inviting memos – info about the inquiries will also be on the Assembly websiteOral evidence – witnesses invited to present evidence and answer questions – often selected from written those who presented written evidence to enable the Cte to explore key issues and points in more depth – meetings will be in public – Cte decides who to invite to give oral evidence – there is no right to appearPublished report – will outline the Committee’s deliberations, key findings and recommendations – nearly always debated in the plenary by way of a motion – Assembly as a whole frequently endorses the report – sent to relevant Minister who responds within 2 months
15 Coming Soon? More modernity? Intensified scrutiny More boring politics Assembly and Executive Review CommitteeRelationship with local government?Relationship with other countries?Before first click What does MLA stand for? Bullet 1 Member of the Legislative Assembly.Q Do you know what electoral system is used? Single Transferable Vote. A proportional system. We will look at this later.Bullet 2 Plenary – usually, not all MLAs will be present. Take place Mondays and Tuesdays. Occasionally, if the Assembly agrees business may run over into Wednesday.Bullet 3 The Agreement and NI Act 1998 gives the Assembly legislative and executive authority for NI. means the Assembly has the power to make laws for NI and the power of government which it exercises by nominating ministers to an Executive Committee to execute decisions made. The Executive Committee is known as the ‘Government’. We’ll see exactly what the Executive does on the next slide.Role and FunctionsLegislation This role is largely one of scrutinising Executive Bills, ie those initiated by Ministers. However, an individual Member may initiate a Bill and so may a Committee. Detailed process for developing new laws which we will touch on later but all laws must be debated on in the Chamber, all parts of them agreed and a final vote must be taken before it is sent off for Royal Assent. All MLAs have an opportunity to influence the new law and can propose changes.Scrutiny – MLAs are elected by the people, not Ministers. Ministers have considerable power and the Assembly must ensure that it is exercised in the interests of the people. It does this through work in committees where they shadow and check the work of the executive departments, and also through their questioning of ministers and participation in debates in the Chamber.MLAs must represent their constituency – listen to the views of the people who elected them and try to make sure that they are taken into account when decisions are made. They have offices in their constituencies where they listen to constituent’s views/problems and try to help sort out problems, debate issues in the Chamber that concern their area, and ask ministers questions during question time, (e.g. may ask about local road conditions to Minister of Environment) and also through their involvement in committees.
16 Programme for Government Growing a dynamic, innovative economyPromoting tolerance, inclusion, health & well-beingProtecting and enhancing our environment and naturalresourcesInvesting in our infrastructureDeliver modern high quality and efficient public servicesInvestment Strategy
17 Maximise your impact Questions – oral and written Adjournment Debates Full debates in plenaryPetitionsCommittee InquiriesCommittee VisitsBullet 2– number of depts not set in stone – also a decision which requires cc support. (In negotiations for the Agreement, the UUP wanted 7 Depts – Unionist majority. SDLP/SF wanted 10. They also wanted dozens of N-S bodies. A trade off was done. 10 Depts and 6 N-S Bodies (12 areas of cooperation). NB: Size of executive could change under recommendations of a new review panel.NB: OFMDFM – also a government department – the ’11th department’, responsible for a wide range of policy areas, including the PfG (plans and priorities), Economic Policy, NSMC, Europe, Human Rights, Equality, Community Relations, Victims, Civic Forum. Organise Executive Meetings, Agendas and Papers.NB: Govt proposals 8 Dec 04– FMDFM could agree to transfer some of functions of OFMDFM to other departments.MinistersQ Can you name the Ministers responsible for these departments before suspension?Agriculture Brid RogersCulture Michael McGimpseyEducation Martin McGuinnessEmployment & Learning Carmel HannaETI Sir Reg EmpeyEnvironment Dermot NesbittFinance & Personnel Sean FarrenHealth Bairbre de BrunRegional Development Peter RobinsonSocial Development Nigel DoddsRef to H/O on Departmental responsibilities in your pack – for further info on what these Depts are actually responsible for.Agriculture ARD – dev of agriculture and agri products industry, provision of scientific and veterinary serv, prevention of diseases, protection of sea fisheries and forests, etcCAL – libraries, arts, museums, PRONI, Armagh Planetarium, Waterways Ireland, OS, etcEducation – pre school, schools, library and support for schools, youth service,Employment & Learning DEL – higher education, further & adult ed, student support, labour relationsETI – economic development, tourism dev, industry assistance, business regulationEnvironment DOE– conservation, national heritage, legislation, road safety, DVLNI,Finance & Personnel – central financial admin, pensions, rates,Health – hospitals, community health, Food Safety promotion Board, Food standards AgencyRegional Development – Roads service – design maintenance, construction; support for air and sea ports, support for transport services – road/rail, regional planning, water servcieSocial Development – Social security, child support, housing benefit, attendance allowance, disability, jobseekers, rent rebate, etc
18 Maximise your impact Get to know the MLAs Attend committee meetings Attend plenary businessAsk an MLA to sponsor an eventInvite MLAs to events, launches, celebrationsAsk an MLA for a quoteBullet 2– number of depts not set in stone – also a decision which requires cc support. (In negotiations for the Agreement, the UUP wanted 7 Depts – Unionist majority. SDLP/SF wanted 10. They also wanted dozens of N-S bodies. A trade off was done. 10 Depts and 6 N-S Bodies (12 areas of cooperation). NB: Size of executive could change under recommendations of a new review panel.NB: OFMDFM – also a government department – the ’11th department’, responsible for a wide range of policy areas, including the PfG (plans and priorities), Economic Policy, NSMC, Europe, Human Rights, Equality, Community Relations, Victims, Civic Forum. Organise Executive Meetings, Agendas and Papers.NB: Govt proposals 8 Dec 04– FMDFM could agree to transfer some of functions of OFMDFM to other departments.MinistersQ Can you name the Ministers responsible for these departments before suspension?Agriculture Brid RogersCulture Michael McGimpseyEducation Martin McGuinnessEmployment & Learning Carmel HannaETI Sir Reg EmpeyEnvironment Dermot NesbittFinance & Personnel Sean FarrenHealth Bairbre de BrunRegional Development Peter RobinsonSocial Development Nigel DoddsRef to H/O on Departmental responsibilities in your pack – for further info on what these Depts are actually responsible for.Agriculture ARD – dev of agriculture and agri products industry, provision of scientific and veterinary serv, prevention of diseases, protection of sea fisheries and forests, etcCAL – libraries, arts, museums, PRONI, Armagh Planetarium, Waterways Ireland, OS, etcEducation – pre school, schools, library and support for schools, youth service,Employment & Learning DEL – higher education, further & adult ed, student support, labour relationsETI – economic development, tourism dev, industry assistance, business regulationEnvironment DOE– conservation, national heritage, legislation, road safety, DVLNI,Finance & Personnel – central financial admin, pensions, rates,Health – hospitals, community health, Food Safety promotion Board, Food standards AgencyRegional Development – Roads service – design maintenance, construction; support for air and sea ports, support for transport services – road/rail, regional planning, water servcieSocial Development – Social security, child support, housing benefit, attendance allowance, disability, jobseekers, rent rebate, etc
19 Lobbying MLAs What is lobbying? Who can lobby the Assembly? Who do I lobby?Does lobbying get results?Draft Local Government Pension Scheme (Amendment No.2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) successfully annulled through trade union lobbying.
20 Department of Social Development Committee Gregory Campbell Chair DUPMichelle McIlveen DUPThomas Burns SDLPDavid Hilditch Deputy Chair DUPMickey Brady Sinn FeinAlban Maginness SDLPJonathan Craig DUPFra McCann Sinn FeinFred Cobain UUPAnna LoAllianceCommittee Clerk: Marie Austin (028)Mrs Claire McGill Sinn Fein
21 Thank you for listening End of PresentationContact NI Assembly InformationThank you for listeningBullet 2Matters that the NI Assembly can make decisions on are called transferred matters.Bullet 3 & 4Westminster is still responsible for reserved and excepted matters.Reserved matters areas which would normally be transferred to a devolved legislature but in NI have been too controversial to do so up to now, eg policing and prisons. Likely to be transferred in future(why do you think they have not been transferred yet?)Excepted matters will always be the responsibility of the UK government at Westminster. - usually matters of national importance which apply to all UK citizens. That is why we still have MPs to represent us when these matters are discussed in Parliament.Lets have a look at what these are…NoteReserved Matters: In Scotland Reserved Matters are our Excepted Matters, but because of NI’s special circumstances a third category was required, relating to areas which would normally be transferred to a devolved legislature but have been too controversial to do so up to now, eg policing. These are matters where responsibility may be given to the Northern Ireland Assembly in the future, but currently are still looked after by Westminster e.g. Law and Order, Criminal Justice, Import and Export Controls.