That’s a Wrap: Midnight Marked the End of the Fifth Mandate

28 March 2022 - by Cris Cloyd

On Monday at midnight, after a shorter term than planned, the Assembly officially dissolved and the 2022 Assembly Election campaign started in earnest. How apt it is that our Assembly Elections are scheduled for the springtime—a time for renewal and change.

During Plenary last Tuesday, Speaker Alex Maskey MLA said that it was remarkable that the Assembly had progressed so much legislation since it returned in 2020.  

He added this shows the productivity of the legislature despite only running for two years and whilst living and working through a global pandemic: “In the five years of the 2011-2016 mandate, some 78 Bills were introduced. In the past two years, 56 have been introduced. That has only happened with much planning, coordination and discipline.”

Of those 56 Bills:

  • 36 Executive Bills passed
  • 10 Private Members’ Bills passed
  • 10 Private Members’ Bills failed to pass during this mandate

The Fifth Mandate saw the Assembly invest in greater support for Private Members’ Bills (PMBs) which made up 20 of the 56 introduced Bills. These are bills which are introduced by individual MLAs as opposed to those introduced by the Executive.  However, looking at the last five-year mandate, only seven PMBs became Acts.

This doesn’t necessarily reflect their wider impact, as although Clare Bailey’s Climate Change Bill was withdrawn, much of it was incorporated within the Department’s Bill. And while the Hunting of Wild Animals Bill also failed to become law, it notably garnered over 16,000 consultation responses.

The Speaker also took the opportunity to state that the Assembly should consider electronic voting, to save time and gain efficiency. The COVID-19 pandemic required IT modernisation and reform, is this something we can build on in the future?  

A lot has happened since the Assembly returned in January 2020. The Executive, MLAs and staffers have all worked at pace to pass 46 pieces of legislation—all with the purpose to solve problems and improve people’s lives—in a shorter mandate than normal.

Though the legislature operated in challenging circumstances, and we continue to speculate what the next mandate will look like, reflections of the Fifth Mandate demonstrate a body and a building that went to work and got things done. Even with the resignation of the First Minister, and subsequently deputy First Minster, from the Executive towards the end, the Assembly was determined to finish the job on the 28th of March. They did just that.

You can find a full list of legislation that moved through the Assembly here.