Page last updated at 14:54 GMT, Tuesday, 31 May 2011 15:54 UK
Guide to the National Assembly for Wales



Advertisement

Introductory Video

On 18 September 1997, the people of Wales voted in a referendum on devolution.

They may have voted yes, but it was by the thinnest of margins - 50.3% to 49.7%. Nevertheless, a new dawn had broken, as the then-Welsh Secretary Ron Davies claimed.

Although wheels were set in motion for a National Assembly for Wales, those in favour had a huge task to convince those who had voted against it - and those who hadn't voted at all - that it would benefit the country.

With that challenge in mind, Mr Davies famously said that "devolution is a process, not an event."

Laws from scratch

That proved to be the case. The Government of Wales Act 1998 established the Assembly but it wasn't until a second act in 2006 that it gained the ability to make its own laws from scratch rather than adapting legislation created in Westminster.

However, the Assembly still had to ask MPs for permission to legislate in some areas, which led to bickering between Cardiff Bay and Westminster over the finer details of certain requests for the power to legislate.

Two areas that saw a tug-of-war along the M4 were the Welsh language and affordable housing.

The beginning of the fourth Assembly in May 2011 heralded a new legislative system in Wales.

In a referendum on 3 March 2011, voters in Wales decided that the Assembly have the power to pass laws on devolved issues without first having to ask Westminster.

The Assembly prides itself on avoiding the "yah-boo" politics of Westminster.

And although chamber sessions do get heated from time to time, the shouting and jeering associated with the House of Commons is kept to a minimum.

The Senedd , sited in the area formally known as Tiger Bay, plays home to the 60 AMs.

KEY FACTS
  • There are 60 Assembly Members, made up of 40 constituent AMs and 20 regional AMs
  • Plenary sessions are held twice a week on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons
  • Since the 2011 Assembly election, Labour has half the available seats
  • The Senedd houses the debating chamber and committee rooms

  • There are 12 subject committees, on issues such as Enterprise and Learning, and Sustainability
  • The Senedd was officially opened by the Queen on St David's Day in 2006
  • There are five legislative committees that scrutinise new Bills
  • The Senedd building was designed by the architect Lord Richard Rogers



SEE ALSO
Cyflwyniad i'r Cynulliad
31 Oct 09 |  Cymru

RELATED INTERNET LINKS

More from BBC Democracy Live
Compare who does what across the UK and Europe
Our A-Z of words used in the business of politics
Discover what BBC Democracy Live has to offer you

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific