Executive go slow to continue?

The first Assembly lasted just over 800 days before it was brought down. This Assembly has just passed that milestone and has clocked up nearly 20,000 hours of devolved government.

Now that our MLAs are coming back from a long summer break, I thought it might be a good idea to look at the comparative records of both administrations. These are not definitive guides to productivity but do point to the level of activity under each.

According to the Assembly website 42 pieces of legislation have been introduced in this Assembly. The last one managed 64. In simple terms you could expect a new piece of legislation approximately every fortnight from the first Assembly and about every three weeks from this one.

Another difference this time around is the use of accelerated passage to reduce Assembly debate around proposed legislation. This Executive uses this mechanism much more readily then the first did and even deployed it to curtail the budget debate.

There is also quite a bit of legislation either caught up in Executive wrangling or which simply appears to have fallen off the radar altogether. This includes:

Cohesion Sharing and Integration – sectarianism and racism
School transfer – 11plus.
Appointment of a Sustainability Commissioner
Irish Language
Civil Service Equal Pay
Liquor Licensing
Sunday Betting
Children’s StrategyProgramme for Government

Academics have examined the two administration’s approach to the development and delivery of a Programme For Government. They note the first Executive’s programme was some 70 pages, single spaced; this one’s first draft was 17pages and double-spaced.

The first Programme was organised around clear policy goals. This one is not and is flimsy by comparison.

The first Executive produced a rolling, three-year programme, so that it fulfilled the requirement in the Good Friday Agreement that the Programme for Government (and budget) be agreed annually; the second has just produced one, three-year programme.

Finally, the first Executive consulted the Civic Forum on the programme; the second still has to decide if it wants to reconstitute the forum.

North – South Cooperation

Under the first Executive the North South Ministerial Council met in either plenary, institutional or sectoral form 71 times. This time round there have only been 43 meeting and as far as I am aware the work programme which was agreed in 1999 has not be updated.