The National Assembly for Wales began its work in 1999 following the 1997 yes vote for devolution. It is our legislature made up of 60 elected Assembly Members (AMs) which makes decisions affecting Wales. They meet in the Senedd building in Cardiff Bay, which opened in 2006 and has won awards for its sustainability and green credentials.
The Welsh Government is made up of Assembly Ministers drawn from these elected members and is headed by the First Minister of Wales. The Welsh Government has responsibility for policy and budget priorities and is scrutinised by the legislature, the National Assembly for Wales.
In May 2007, separation between the legislative National Assembly for Wales and the executive Welsh Government took effect under the Government of Wales Act 2006. The Act created a new category of legislation called Measures of the National Assembly and increased the National Assembly’s law making powers.
A yes vote in a referendum in March 2011 secured further law making powers for the National Assembly, which now means Wales is able to pass laws on all subjects in the 20 devolved areas without first needing the agreement of the UK Parliament. Proposed laws are called Bills and enacted laws are called Acts. The first Welsh bill passed under the National Assembly’s new legislative powers received Royal Assent on 13 November 2012. The National Assembly for Wales (Official Languages) Act became law when the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones applied the Welsh Seal to the letter's patent. The Act ensures that the languages of Welsh and English are treated as equal in the Assembly.
[The Senedd building, Cardiff Bay]
The Wales Act 2014 devolved a range of tax and increased borrowing powers to Wales including stamp duty, land tax and landfill tax. The Act also gave Welsh Ministers the powers to vary income tax with the introduction of a Welsh rate to help grow and strengthen the Welsh economy.
More recently in 2017, the Wales Act 2017 led the way to more powers relating to road travel, ports, railways, marine licensing and energy consents. Following a public consultation, the Assembly is now expected to be renamed the Welsh Parliament before the end of the current Assembly in May 2021.
In Wales, we also elect 40 members to the UK Parliament where responsibility for some non devolved policy areas for Wales resides. On a European level, we elect four members to the European Parliament which produces legislation for member states of the European Union.
To find out more about law making powers in Wales visit the National Assembly for Wales website.
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