#onthehill A cold start

Flurries of snow were swirling around the already full visitor’s car park as I arrived. Like a scene from CS Lewis’ Narnia … though someone on twitter reckoned “Narnia made more sense!”

Inside, evidence of the previous night’s primary school carol service has been stripped from the Great Hall. A well lit Christmas tree is giving the Queen’s chandelier – the one NI didn’t return after the wall – a run for its money on the illumination front. And to one side of the main staircase, Lord Bannside glares down at people entering the building as if he was checking their souls as well as their voting records.

Parliament Buildings, Christmas tree with Paisley's portrait glaring down over the souls in the Great Hall

An Assembly branded microphone has been set up and tested. Fifteen minutes later, two different men came along and moved it, extending the rope cordon.

The morning news has been trailing some of the business of the day: a statement by the Health Minister Edwin Poots on the contents of the Compton report and the answer to Education Committee Chair Mervyn Storey’s question into Irish language translation costs in education (though strangely not asking about translation costs into any other languages).

But there’s also ministerial question time for Education and Justice, and four committee meetings.

The Budget bill quickly achieved Royal Assent – as it had to – but with the draft Programme for Government still only out for consultation, the Assembly has been legislation light since May 2011.

On the last day that the full Assembly will sit before 2012, how will MLAs reflect on their term’s work. Where do they think they add most to the democratic process? Constituency work? Written questions? In the chamber? In committees? In the tea room?