|Source: Alan in Belfast|
“They have no need to go elsewhere for programs and ideas, because the divided society has produced a political subsystem which produces in turn all the dynamics of the whole system in microcosm” - AJ Milnor
As 2013 draws to a close and the elected representatives at the glorified Council on the hill aka The Northern Ireland Assembly prepare for a winter holiday ordinary workers could only dream of 13 working days they call recess (yes, 13 working days Christmas holiday in addition to their two months off in the summer, 2 weeks at Easter and week at Halloween) - perhaps now is the time to review the hard work and real change they created during the days they focused on doing their job of legislating to make lives better in the NE of Ireland?
They are a Legislative Assembly and how better to review just how hard they’ve worked and embettered (as opposed to embittered) society than through the masses of Legislation they have churned out this year.
Well, it seems they’ve been twice as productive as last year. Managing to a substantive 10 Acts this Year. Admittedly you get more Acts in a 1st year English class studying Shakespeare but 10 is twice 5 and that’s what they managed in 2012.
For the cynic this may seem like a tiny amount of Legislation to transform our society for the better but maybe quantity isn’t the issue? Maybe it’s the quality?
Have these 10 Legislative Acts been profound and substantive? Driving change for not just us but our children and our children’s children? Improving a broken economy? Raising the most disadvantaged out of poverty? Stuff that really makes a difference?
Well here’s each Act and a brief synopsis of the impact on your life:
Superannuation Act (Northern Ireland) 2013
An Act to make provision for and in connection with limiting the value of the benefits which may be provided under so much of any scheme under Article 3 of the Superannuation (Northern Ireland) Order 1972 as provides by virtue of Article 4(2) of that Order for benefits to be provided by way of compensation to or in respect of persons who suffer loss of office or employment; and to make provision about the procedure for modifying such a scheme.
So that one reduces the compensation to Civil Servants being made unemployed? The Civil Servants thank you.
Inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse Act (Northern Ireland) 2013
An Act to make provision relating to an inquiry into institutional abuse between 1922 and 1995.
This sounds positive. However -
(5) The inquiry panel —
(a) must not rule on; and
(b) has no power to determine,
any person's civil or criminal liability.
And of course certain groups that would not be defined as ‘institutions’ will escape any investigation. So truth without justice and just for some. I suppose it’s a start.
Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2013
An Act to amend the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008; to transfer certain functions of the Department for Social Development to the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland; and for connected purposes
Regulating Charities - great idea. However, it’s really just bringing Northern Ireland Legislation in line with that of Westminster from two years ago.
Budget Act (Northern Ireland) 2013
An Act to authorise the issue out of the Consolidated Fund of certain sums for the service of the years ending 31st March 2013 and 2014; to appropriate those sums for specified purposes; to authorise the Department of Finance and Personnel to borrow on the credit of the appropriated sums; to authorise the use for the public service of certain resources for the years ending 31st March 2013 and 2014; and to revise the limits on the use of certain accruing resources in the year ending 31st March 2013.
They decided how to distribute the money available to them from the British Treasury around various Departments.
Business Improvement Districts Act (Northern Ireland) 2013
An Act to make provision for business improvement districts and for connected purposes.
Introduced similar Legislation to Westminster from 2008. Essentially allows increased rates in defined areas of Councils for improvements. Think of it as a town centre tax where struggling business would have to pay the increase if the successful pushed it through.
Water and Sewerage Services (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2013
An Act to enable the Department for Regional Development to continue to make payments to water and sewerage undertakers for a limited period; and to make provision requiring certain notices to be registered in the Statutory Charges Register.
Self explanatory. Doesn’t life feel so much better?
Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2013
An Act to amend the law relating to sex offender notification, sexual offences prevention orders and human trafficking; to provide for the destruction, retention, use and other regulation of certain fingerprints and DNA samples and profiles; to provide for the release on licence of persons detained under Article 45(2) of the Criminal Justice (Children) (Northern Ireland) Order 1998; to amend Article 21BA of the Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1999; to abolish the common law offence of scandalising the judiciary; and to permit criminal proceedings on Sunday at certain times
This one is actual legislation.
Civil Service (Special Advisers) Act (Northern Ireland) 2013
An Act to amend the law on special advisers in the Northern Ireland Civil Service.
Jim Allister’s Fuck the Provos bill.
Budget (No. 2) Act (Northern Ireland) 2013
An Act to authorise the issue out of the Consolidated Fund of certain sums for the service of the year ending 31st March 2014; to appropriate those sums for specified purposes; to authorise the Department of Finance and Personnel to borrow on the credit of the appropriated sums; to authorise the use for the public service of certain resources (including accruing resources) for the year ending 31st March 2014; and to repeal certain spent provisions.
Another one on how they distribute money given to them by the British Treasury.
Marine Act (Northern Ireland) 2013
An Act to provide for marine plans in relation to the Northern Ireland inshore region; to provide for marine conservation zones in that region; to make further provision in relation to marine licensing for certain electricity works in that region; and for connected purposes.
They’ll get round to making sure someone thinks about the sea water.
And ... that’s it.
Legislation from 108 people that means 2013 ends better than it began, and we face 2014 with a renewed confidence that our Legislators are working flat out to make those vital socio-economic decisions that are so needed.
Onwards and upwards … and to think people laughed at the Nationalist Party for only managing the Wild Birds Act 1931 during the whole 52 year tenure of the NI Parliament.
Additionally the NI Assembly also approves Legislative Consent motions - A Legislative Consent Motion (also known as a Sewel motion) is a motion passed in which it agrees that Westminster may pass legislation on a devolved issue over which it has legislative authority.
Legislative Consent motions - or agreeing to do as Westminster does - are more numerous than actual NI Assembly legislation,
Here’s one on the Antarctic Bill
So while you’re off on your permanent break from work due to unemployment, or looking forward to a few days with the family over Christmas - please, remember our politicians, the hard work they’ve put in throughout the year. The real changes they’ve made via Legislation. And don’t begrudge them the long holiday they are facing.
They’re just recharging the batteries for another year of sterling work making it so much better for us all.
Raise your glasses to the NI Assembly, it’s 108 MLAs and how much better your life is after their deliberations and ratifications.
Or ... laugh at how pathetic the entire sham is?