19 October 2010

Happening at the Assembly - 19 October 2010

The Justice Bill, protection for people whose homes are being compulsorily purchased by DSD and a review of multiple sclerosis services were all discussed yesterday in the Assembly Chamber.

The Justice Bill in particular was important: it’s the first justice legislation developed locally for 40 years and the largest Bill introduced into the Assembly since power was devolved in 2007.

Housing is always an emotive subject and the proposed purchase of homes by DSD provoked debate by MLAs. Special concern was raised for those who bought houses at the top of the market but have now lost value because of the decline in the housing market. MLAs were keen to find solutions to protect these vulnerable homeowners and asked that the Department for Finance and Personnel and Executive come up with some proposals before the forthcoming elections.

MLAs also debated the facilities available to those suffering from multiple sclerosis and agreed that the Minister for Health should review them, providing improvements where possible.

The Justice and Regional Development Ministers were in the spotlight at Question Time, with convictions for violent crime and flood preparations on the agenda.

Today, the Environment Committee’s special meeting on the number of seats for sale out of Belfast City Airport attracted a lot of interest. The public gallery at the meeting was packed and the media were out in force to interview the Chair of the Committee after the meeting.

The Agriculture and Rural Development Committee are also meeting today looking at the Dogs Amendment Bill and Welfare of Animals Bill.

Meanwhile in the Chamber MLAs are looking at Knife Crime, and the Ministers for Social Development; and Agriculture and Rural Development are up for Question Time.