Page last updated at 14:53 GMT, Tuesday, 31 May 2011 15:53 UK
Guide to the National Assembly for Wales



The ability to make laws is a modern development for the National Assembly for Wales.

For its first eight years of existence, most of the power to govern Wales remained at Westminster.

But following the 2007 Assembly election, the Government of Wales Act 2006 came into force, ushering in a new chapter in Welsh devolution.

Although the Assembly had responsibility over the same areas of policy as before - areas like health, education, economic development, local government funding, rural affairs and the Welsh language - the 2006 Act allowed the Assembly to acquire more powers to make its own laws.

General view of the Senedd, the Welsh National Assembly building in Cardiff
The Assembly has to gain permission to make laws

But crucially, each time the Assembly wanted to take on responsibility for creating laws in a particular area of devolved powers it had to gain permission from both houses of Parliament.

The Assembly requested these powers from Westminster through a Legislative Competence Order (also known as an LCO).

This process was criticised for being both cumbersome and time consuming.

The process also led to tensions between Cardiff Bay and Westminster at times.

A majority of Welsh voters decided in a referendum on 3 March 2011, that the power to legislate on devolved areas should fully transfer to Cardiff Bay, thereby doing away with the need to seek permission from Westminster.

The LCO system has been abandoned from the beginning of the fourth Assembly.

The new system gives the Welsh Assembly similar legislative powers to the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Irish Assembly.

BILLS AND ACTS

Under the new legislative system, laws made in Wales on the devolved issues outlined in the Government of Wales Act 2006 are known as Acts.

A Bill is a proposed law and may be introduced by the Assembly government, an Assembly committee, an individual AM or the Assembly Commission.

There is generally a four-stage process for the consideration of a Bill involving:

  • Stage 1 - consideration of the general principles of the Bill by a committee, and the agreement of those general principles by the Assembly;
  • Stage 2 - detailed consideration by a committee of the Bill and any amendments tabled to that Bill;
  • Stage 3 - detailed consideration, by the Assembly, of the Bill and any amendments tabled to that bill;
  • Stage 4 - a vote by the Assembly to pass the final text of the Bill.

Once a Bill has been passed by the Assembly and given Royal Assent, it becomes an Act of the Assembly.

There is an optional, additional amending stage, called the Report stage, which can take place between stages 3 and 4, if proposed by the AM responsible for the Bill and agreed by the Assembly.

From time to time, the Presiding Officer will hold a ballot to determine the name of an AM who may, with the agreement of the Assembly, introduce their own Bill.




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