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EDITIONS
BBC Parliament Monday, 14 October, 2002, 11:44 GMT 12:44 UK
Devolution to Wales
Rhodri Morgan
First Secretary of Wales, Rhodri Morgan
 Nations
 Nations
 Scotland
 Wales

'A Voice for Wales', the Government's White Paper for devolution in Wales, was published in July 1997.

It was endorsed in the referendum of September 1997 by a narrow "yes" vote (only 50.3% voted yes).

The White Paper provided for functions then exercised by Welsh Office ministers to be transferred to the Assembly as soon as the new body met.

The powers and functions of the Assembly were not contained in the White Paper, but came later in the form of Transfer Orders.

The Paper was limited compared to the Scottish devolution Bill. Its provisions included:

  • A directly elected assembly to deal with the seven billion pound budget then dispensed by the Secretary of State.

    Devolution will go down as one of the historic achievements of the Labour government

    Robin Cook MP
    April 2002

  • The assembly will be able to set policies and pass secondary legislation

  • It will have 60 members elected every four years

  • It will be headed by an Executive Committee and a Leader who will chair it
Legislation was passed through in the Parliamentary session 1997-98 resulting in the Government of Wales Act 1998.

The Legislation was implemented in 1999 when the first elections took place.

Government of Wales Act 1998

'An Act to establish and make provision about the National Assembly for Wales and the offices of Auditor General for Wales and Welsh Administration Ombudsman; to reform certain Welsh public bodies and abolish certain other Welsh public bodies; and for connected purposes'.
[31st July 1998]

The powers granted to Wales under the Act are considerably less extensive than those enjoyed by Scotland.

Seats won in Welsh elections in May 1999
Labour 28
Plaid Cymru 17
Liberal Democrats 6
Conservatives 9

The Cabinet is the primary decision-making body within the Assembly. Members of the Cabinet execute the majority of the Assembly's functions by authority of the Assembly as a whole.

Under the Act, the Assembly consists of 60 Members. Twenty are additional members elected from the Assembly electoral regions which are the five European constituencies in Wales.

The Assembly holds mainly executive and administrative functions; it also has a consultative role in relation to Westminster legislation and to certain public appointments.

An Executive Committee heads the Assembly. It consists of the Assembly First Secretary and the other Assembly Secretaries among others.

The Assembly is now responsible for several of the day-to-day issues that affect the people of Wales, including agriculture, the environment, health and health services, housing and tourism.

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