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Making Laws

How are laws made?

MLAs are Members of the Legislative Assembly. Legislative means ‘law-making’ and legislation is another word for law.

Laws are rules that help society run smoothly and make sure that everyone receives equal treatment. There are laws about everything from driving to teaching in schools. The Assembly can make laws about various issues that affect us in Northern Ireland, including hospitals, policing and public transport. When a law has been passed by the Assembly, it is called an ‘Act’.

Ideas for new laws come from:

  • Ministers in charge of the different areas of government, such as Agriculture, Environment or Education;
  • individual MLAs; or
  • Assembly Committees: groups of MLAs that specialise in different areas of government.

Making a law can be a long process. Proposals for new laws, called Bills, must pass through several stages if they are to become laws. Small groups of MLAs in committees examine the Bills and they are debated and voted on in the Assembly Chamber.

Can you convince the Assembly to support your idea for a new law?