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EDITIONS
 Tuesday, 31 December, 2002, 12:10 GMT
Call to end AMs' royal pledge
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in Cardiff
AMs pledge allegiance to the Queen in private
Welsh Assembly members should not have to swear allegiance to the Queen, the body's presiding officer has said.

Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas also wants the word "royal" dropped by major cultural events like the Royal Welsh Show and the Royal National Eisteddfod.

The Plaid Cymru AM for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy was speaking to TribanCoch.com, a website affiliated to the party.

Role of Presiding Officer
Dafydd Elis-Thomas
Equivalent to Speaker of House of Commons
Chairs plenary debate sessions
Ensures fairness in debates
Aims to be impartial in business
Interprets standing orders

Lord Elis-Thomas, who has declined to expand on his comments to the BBC, made it clear in the website interview that he was giving his personal views, and not those of his office.

He said he would try in future to scrap the oath of allegiance at Cardiff Bay, where business is considered more relaxed than at Westminster.

Lord Elis-Thomas said the requirement to swear allegiance was "a technical necessity within the [Government of Wales] Act that I want removed".

"It doesn't happen in Northern Ireland and they shouldn't have it here," he told the website.

"It should not be a test of one's ability to represent the people of Wales to have to assent to an oath to the monarch.

"I do not believe in the monarchical system of governance.

Swearing oaths

"We can stop inviting the royal family. All we have got to do is by resolution decide we don't want to have anything to do with them."

He said he wanted to remove the requirement to swear the royal oath in a future version of the Government of Wales Act 1998 - the parliamentary legislation which gave birth to the assembly.

He added: "I am going to try at some stage."

Welsh Assembly chamber
AMs must swear their allegiance

Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas has, in his official role, strengthened the assembly's links with the royal family.

He welcomed the Queen in her Golden Jubilee visit to Cardiff Bay.

But in the interview with the website he made it clear he could not claim a friendship with the monarch.

"I am not a friend of the Queen because I don't see her often enough, but I am hopefully a friend of the Prince of Wales," he said.

Any subsequent legislation to amend the Government of Wales Act could come in the next assembly session, if calls for law-making powers grow.

Lord Elis-Thomas said he would not want a referendum on extra assembly powers because the "yes" camp would probably lose.

Unlike parliament, AMs who join Cardiff Bay at the May election will take the oath behind closed doors at the assembly clerk's office, under current rules.

'Simply wrong'

But Conservative AM David Melding said the presiding officer was "simply wrong" and "off-beam".

"Britain is a monarchy by popular demand, there is no significant republican movement," Mr Melding told BBC Radio Wales.

Interview quotes
"The next assembly should start making proper legislation"
"A referendum is a divisive thing - we would probably lose it, you know"
"I would love to serve in a Government led by Ieuan Wyn Jones"
"I am still a decentralist socialist ecologist"
"People can take allegiance to the Queen without actually supporting the monarchy - that is not a problem in a liberal democracy."

Lord Elis-Thomas's comments have also been questioned by the organiser of the Royal Welsh Show.

The show's agricultural society chairman Emrys Evans said dropping the "royal" title was "anathema" to Wales' foremost rural annual showcase.

"We have enjoyed royal patronage for 50 years and have benefited enormously," he said.

"Every time a member of the royal family comes to the show, the attendance goes up 15%."

See also:

26 May 99 | Politics
13 Jun 02 | Wales
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