Alliance Assembly member Seamus Close has said the passage of the Environment (NI) Order 2002 today (Tuesday) is an abuse of process and illustrates why it is so important that devolution is re-established as quickly as possible.
The Environment (NI) Order 2002 subsumes three Assembly Bills:
- Pollution Prevention and Control Bill
- Local Air Quality Management Bill
- Areas of Special Scientific Interest Bill
The result is a draft Order of 58 pages, with 53 Clauses in 5 Parts, and 6 Schedules.
Mr Close said: “Lumping important legislation together and expecting it to be passed as one Order is a huge disservice to the people of Northern Ireland. If this abuse of process is how the Government intends to introduce Northern Ireland legislation, then it is critical that we get the Assembly back on track as soon as possible.
“There has been virtually no opportunity to fully take Assembly committee reports into account, and as the Secretary of State has removed Assembly research services from MLAs, there are inadequate resources for any thorough analysis.
“While MLAs no longer have any real say about legislation affecting Northern Ireland, it is patently obvious that there has been insufficient time to review this ‘composite’ Order against the Bill as introduced. In my opinion, three into one does not go. This complete disregard for scrutiny shows why it is essential that we get an accountable Assembly back on its feet again.”