Opposition bill has first reading

John McCallister
John McCallister

A bill to create formal structures for the Stormont Assembly yesterday had its first reading in the chamber.

South Down independent unionist MLA John McCallister’s Assembly and Executive Reform (Assembly Opposition) Bill had its title read aloud and was ordered to be printed.

The first debate on the important legislation will take place in about a fortnight’s time.

As well as creating structures and speaking rights for a formal Opposition, the bill, on which the former UUP MLA has been working for three years, would see the Executive’s leaders re-named as the ‘joint first ministers’.

And the bill would set in statute a secret ballot for the position of Speaker; substantially increase the threshold at which parties would be eligible to take Executive seats; enshrine in statute the principle of collective cabinet responsibility; and ensure that the chair and deputy chair of the Public Accounts Committee are from non-Executive parties.
Mr McCallister said he was “delighted” that the bill had reached the chamber and added: “A formal Opposition will better hold the Executive to account and present the public with an alternative Government come election time – moving our politics to a more normalised footing of voting governments in and out of power based on performance.”