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Legislative Assembly is the name given in some countries to either a legislature, or to one of its chambers. The name is used by a number of member-states of Commonwealth of Nations, as well as in a number of Latin American countries.

Legislative Assemblies in the Commonwealth

A number of colonies in the British Empire were given a degree of involvement in running their own affairs by the creation of a representative body, often named the Legislative Assembly. Typically the Legislative Assembly was partially or wholly elected by popular vote; this was usually in contrast with the other chamber of the legislature, called the Legislative Council, whose membership was generally either nominated by the Governor, or indirectly elected. Conflict between the two chambers frequently led to the Legislative Council being reformed, or even abolished outright, thus leaving the Legislative Assembly as either the more powerful chamber in the parliament, or the only one.

A legislature is a type of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend and repeal laws.[1] The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. Legislatures are known by many names, the most common being parliament and congress, although these terms also have more specific meanings. In parliamentary systems of government, the legislature is formally supreme and appoints a member from its house as the prime minister which acts as the executive.[2] In separation of powers doctrine, the legislature in a presidential system is considered a power branch which is coequal to and independent of the both the judiciary and the executive.[3] In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise taxes and adopt the budget and other money bills.The primary components of a legislature are one or more chambers or houses: assemblies that debate and vote upon bills. A legislature with only one house is called unicameral. A bicameral legislature possesses two separate chambers, usually described as an upper house and a lower house, which often differ in duties, powers, and the methods used for the selection of members. Much rarer have been tricameral legislatures; the most recent existed in the waning years of white-minority rule in South Africa.In most parliamentary systems, the lower house is the more powerful house while the upper house is merely a chamber of advice or review. However, in presidential systems, the powers of the two houses are often similar or equal. In federations, it is typical for the upper house to represent the component states; the same applies to the supranational legislature of the European Union. For this purpose, the upper house may either contain the delegates of state governments, as is the case in the European Union and in Germany and was the case in the United States before 1913, or be elected according to a formula that grants equal representation to states with smaller populations, as is the case in Australia and the modern United States.Because members of legislatures usually sit together in a specific room to deliberate, seats in that room may be assigned exclusively to members of the legislature. In parliamentary language, the term seat is sometimes used to mean that someone is a member of a legislature. For example, saying that a legislature has 100 "seats" means that there are 100 members of the legislature, and saying that someone is "contesting a seat" means they are trying to get elected as a member of the legislature. By extension, the term seat is often used in less formal contexts to refer to an electoral district itself, as for example in the phrases "safe seat" and "marginal seat".

The modern-day Legislative Assembly in a Commonwealth country, either as a national or sub-national parliament, is in most cases an evolution of one of these colonial legislative chambers.

In a number of territories, the name House of Assembly is used instead.

Members of Commonwealth Legislative Assemblies

Members of a Legislative Assembly in a Commonwealth country are usually referred to as a Member of the Legislative Assembly, commonly abbreviated as MLA; however, in Canadamarker, members of the province of Ontariomarker's Legislative Assembly are known as a Member of the Provincial Parliament (MPP, Ontario).

Although Northern Irelandmarker's legislature is called the Northern Ireland Assembly, its members are also known as MLAs.

Examples of Legislative Assemblies in Commonwealth countries

In Indiamarker, the lower or sole house of each constituent state's parliament is called the Legislative Assembly, or Vidhan Sabha. The same name is also used for the lower house of the legislatures for two of the union territories, Delhimarker and Puducherrymarker (Pondicherry). The upper house in the six states with a bicameral legislature is called the Legislative Council, or Vidhan Parishad. Members of the former are called MLAs, and those of the latter MLCs.

The lower houses of the parliaments of the Australian states of New South Walesmarker, Victoriamarker and Western Australiamarker are called the Legislative Assembly. In contrast, the state of Queenslandmarker has abolished the former upper house of its parliament, leaving the Legislative Assembly as the sole chamber.

Former Legislative Assemblies

In Quebecmarker, the Legislative Assembly was renamed the National Assembly, following the abolition of the Legislative Council in 1968.

In Mauritiusmarker, the unicameral Parliament was known as the Legislative Assembly until 1992, when, following the establishment of a republic, it was renamed the National Assembly.

Legislative Assemblies in Brazil

In Brazilmarker, a legislative assembly is the state-level legislature. All legislative assemblies are unicameral, with elected members who are designated as state deputies, and who serve four-year terms.

See also

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