Making Legislation

The Northern Ireland Assembly is the legislature for Northern Ireland. This means it has the power, under the Northern Ireland Act 1998 to make laws, or legislate, on local issues, called 'Transferred Matters' or 'Devolved Matters'. They include health, education, policing, agriculture, environment, roads and public transport. Proposals for laws for consideration by the legislature are called 'Bills'. There are Executive Bills, introduced to the Assembly by Ministers and Non-Executive Bills, introduced by individual MLAs (called Private Members' Bills - PMBs) or Assembly Committees. Once a Bill has been passed by the Assembly and receives Royal Assent, it is known as an Act of the Northern Ireland Assembly. 

Bills are pieces of Primary Legislation. Secondary legislation is law created by ministers under powers given to them by Primary Legislation. In Northern Ireland, secondary legislation is known as 'Statutory Rules'. Acts provide a broad framework of law and secondary legislation is used to fill in the details, or to update a law without the Assembly having to pass a completely new Act. Statutory rules are just as much a part of the law of the land as an Act of the Assembly.

In the 2011 to 2016 mandate, the Assembly passed a total of 67 Bills - 60 Executive Bills, 5 Private Member's Bills (PMBs) and 2 Committee Bills. In the short 2016 to 2017 mandate, before the unexpected, 'snap' election was called, only one Act had been passed, to set the budget for the year. Two other Bills were in the system - one Executive Bill concerning the licensing of pubs and clubs, which was well on its way to becoming law and one PMB which had been introduced at First Stage. Both fell due to dissolution.

In the current 2017 to 2022 mandate (following re-formation of the Executive in January 2020), as at end June 2002, 3 Bills have passed through the Assembly to became Acts: 2 Budget Bills (receiving Royal Assent on 26 March and 17 June 2020) and the Private Tenancies (Coronavirus Modifications) Bill which became Act on 4 May 2020. The Domestic Abuse and Family Proceeding Bill is currently at Committee Stage. The Final Stage of the Housing (Amendment) Bill is scheduled for 30 June 2020, when the Second Stage debate of the Pension Schemes Bill will also take place.

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