National Assembly for Wales
The National Assembly for Wales is a representative Assembly consisting of 60 elected Assembly Members (AMs). Forty members are elected in constituencies, using the ‘first-past-the-post’ system. The remaining twenty are elected to represent the five regions of Wales. The Assembly decides on its priorities and allocates the funds made available to it by the UK Government.
The Assembly’s functions, including those of making subordinate legislation, mainly transferred to the Welsh Ministers following the implementation of the Government of Wales Act 2006.
The National Assembly’s primary-law making powers were enhanced following a ‘yes’ vote in a referendum on 3 March 2011, making it possible for it to legislate in the 20 areas that are devolved.
The Welsh Government is the devolved executive of Wales. It consists of the First Minister, plus an eight-member Cabinet. The role of the executive is to make decisions, develop and implement policy, exercise executive functions and make statutory instruments. The Welsh Government is subject to democratic scrutiny by the National Assembly.
The Welsh Assembly Government is currently a Labour government.
Government of Wales Act 2006
The Government of Wales Act 2006 came info force following elections to the National Assembly in May 2007. It:
- legally separated the Welsh Assembly Government from the National Assembly for Wales, giving Welsh Ministers independent executive authority
- made new provision for the appointment of Welsh Ministers: the First Minister is now nominated by the National Assembly, but appointed by the queen, who also approves the First Minister’s choice of other Ministers
- enabled the National Assembly for Wales to gain enhanced legislative powers on matters approved by the Westminster Parliament. It also allowed for full legislative powers to be granted in the future if a referendum were to approve this
- changed the system for candidacy in National Assembly elections: from May 2007, each candidate was required to choose to stand either as a constituency representative or on a regional list.
The Wales Office
The Wales Office is a UK Government Department. Administratively it is located within the UK Ministry of Justice. The Wales Office undertakes certain reserved functions for Wales that have not been transferred to the National Assembly for Wales; it also secures funds for Wales as part of the annual budgetary settlement and is responsible for ensuring the smooth running of Welsh legislation through the UK Parliament.