The Alliance Party today announced our Legislative Programme for the next NI Assembly term 2011 to 2015. Alliance is the first party ever in Northern Ireland to publish a programme of this nature.
Party Leader David Ford MLA said: "Politics is about providing solutions, and that's why Alliance is launching our legislative programme today. Northern Ireland needs fresh ideas and strong leadership.
"We are the first party in Northern Ireland to ever publish specific plans for legislation for a future Assembly term. We are leading change.
"I believe that one of the essential ingredients to attracting investment and new jobs is stability in our political institutions. A key part of that stability is making it a duty of all Departments to co-operate and collaborate to meet general objectives. These could include promoting community safety and combating crime; promoting public health; working for sustainable development; and promoting a shared future.
"Alliance is also leading change in proposing a Shared and Integrated Education Bill. This legislation would deliver incentives to develop shared and integrated education. We have so much potential in this area to save precious public money and improve community relations.
"Alliance is also proposing a Bill to deliver more shared housing in Northern Ireland. Our vision is one of people living together, being educated together and working together, for the benefit of everyone here. Northern Ireland cannot afford to miss any more opportunities to transform our society to one that is shared on every level.
"We would also implement an Education and Skills Authority Bill. This bill is vitally important as it would establish the Education and Skills Authority that will replace the Education and Library Boards and other bodies. This body will save money through economies of scale and standardise school support across Northern Ireland. Other parties have failed to agree on this issue but we believe that this Bill presents an opportunity to reform our education system for the better and save £21million in its first two years.
"Look at the crisis which left tens of thousands of people without water over Christmas. We would create a NI Water Governance Bill to transform the organisation into a mutual company. The current status of NI Water as a government-owned company is not sustainable, and bringing NI Water back under the direct control of the Department would undermine efficiency drives and drain our Block Grant dry. In contrast the mutualisation of NI Water would enable investment to replace outdated infrastructure and help us deliver essential efficiencies.
"The same extreme weather conditions which caused the water crisis last year, left many people in Northern Ireland unable to leave homes because the vast majority of footpaths remained ungritted. The lack of clear guidance on gritting was disgraceful and Alliance will put forward a Bill to address the gaps in legislation to provide clarity and ensure this vital work is being carried out.
"Alliance is also leading change for a greener society. Northern Ireland is covered by the UK-wide Climate Change Act 2008. However, the legal framework in Northern Ireland is insufficient to effectively deliver upon the obligations arising from that Act. We would create a distinct Climate Change Bill for Northern Ireland. There is strong support from a cross-section of stakeholders on the benefits from clarity on climate change duties and responsibilities.
"Northern Ireland is seriously out of step with other parts of the EU in not having an independent Environmental Protection Agency, and as a consequence its environmental governance is not fit for purpose. Alliance would introduce a Bill to Create an Independent EPA. Northern Ireland has the potential to be a leader in sustainability.
"Alliance will create legislation to reform local government to deliver improved services and greater efficiency. Legislation is required to complete the delivery of the local government aspects of the Review of Public Administration. We want to deliver better, more joined-up government. Northern Ireland has too many politicians but not enough leaders! Potentially over £400m could be saved over the next 25 years if this important change to local government is delivered.
"This is our ambitious starting point as a programme for legislation in the new term. Alliance works, Alliance delivers and Alliance is leading change."
You will have your opportunity to elect for Dr Stephen Farry and Cllr Anne Wilson as Alliance Party MLAs in North Down committed to implementing this exciting Legislative Programme on 5 May 2011.
The document can be found at http://allianceparty.org/document/legislation