Legislative Assembly is the name given in some countries to either a legislature, or to one of its branch. The name is used by a number of member-states of the Commonwealth of Nations, as well as 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.
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 Canada, members of the province of Ontario’s Legislative Assembly are known as a “Member of the Provincial Parliament” (MPP, Ontario).
Although Northern Ireland’s legislature is called the Northern Ireland Assembly, its members are also known as MLA’s.
Examples of Legislative Assemblies in Commonwealth countries
In India, 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, Delhi and Puducherry. 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 Wales, Victoria and Western Australia are called the Legislative Assembly. In contrast, the state of Queensland has abolished the former upper house of its parliament, leaving the Legislative Assembly as the sole chamber. The sole house of parliament in the Australian Capital Territory is the Legislative Assembly.
In Malaysia, the State Legislative Assemblies of each individual states are known as Dewan Undangan Negeri. There are thirteen State Legislative Assemblies in Malaysia and it is a unicameral legislature.
Former Legislative Assemblies
In Quebec, the Legislative Assembly was renamed the National Assembly, following the abolition of the Legislative Council in 1968.
In Mauritius, the unicameral Parliament was known as the Legislative Assembly until 1992, when, following the establishment of a republic, it was renamed the National Assembly.