The Senedd (Welsh Parliament) is the democratically elected body that represents the interests of Wales and its people, makes laws for Wales, agrees Welsh taxes and holds the Welsh Government to account.
The Llywydd is similar to the UK Parliament' House of Commons Speaker and is the highest authority in the Senedd. The Llywydd chairs Plenary, which is the meeting of all 60 Members of the Senedd, and must remain politically impartial at all times.
The Welsh Government is the devolved government for Wales. It is formed after an election and is made up from a single or a coalition of the political parties represented in the Assembly. It delivers policies and proposes laws on devolved subjects such as health, education, public services and the environment.
The First Minister of Wales is the leader of the Welsh Government and is appointed by HM the Queen following nomination by Members of the Senedd.
The Welsh Assembly was established after a referendum of the Welsh people in 1997, with the first Assembly elected in May 1999. On the 6th of May 2020 the National Assembly for Wales became the Welsh Parliament, commonly known as the Senedd. Members of the Assembly (AM's) are now Members of the Senedd (MS').
Sixty Members of the Senedd (MS') sit in the Siambr (Chamber, similar to the House of Commons Chamber) at the Senedd (the name for the building and the institution) in Cardiff Bay and each of the four main political parties in Wales is represented. Forty of these members are elected using the same first-past-the-post method and constituency boundaries as UK MP's elected to the UK Parliament in Westminster. The remaining twenty AMs are elected on a proportional representation basis to represent one of five regions in Wales .
Through the process of Devolution the Welsh Government now governs and the Senedd legislates over most policy areas that affect us daily, including
- Agriculture, fisheries, forestry and rural development
- Ancient monuments and historical buildings
- Economic development
- Education and training
- Fire and rescue services and promotion of fire safety
- Health and health services
- Highways and transport
- Local government
- Welsh Parliament/Senedd Cymru
- Public administration
- Social welfare
- Sport and recreation
- Town and country planning
- Water and flood defences
- Welsh language
The UK Government governs and the UK Parliament in Westminster currently legislates over some areas which are not devolved, including
- the EU's Single Market and relations with the EU
- Defence of the realm
- Sale and supply of alcohol
- Regulation of package holidays
- Post offices
- Sunday trading
- Supply of electricity
- Oil and gas
- Nuclear energy
- Road traffic offences
- Regulation of doctors and dentists
- Employment and industrial relations
- Legal aid
Through the UK’s past membership of the European Union, Wales is also subject to decisions about legislation made by the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg and which were implemented and governed by the European Commission in Brussels. This remains applicable to the UK during the withdrawal period ending on December 31st 2020, following the UK's departure from the EU on 31st January 2020. The future relationship is currently being negotiated between the UK Government and the European Commission. The Welsh Government is providing input and has already begun the process of replacing EU legislation such as the Common Agricultural Policy or 'CAP'.
Local authorities (city, borough and county councils)
Local authorities provide statutory services as set out in legislation and are empowered by laws made at the UK and Welsh levels to provide other services. They provide some of these services directly, work in partnership with other organisations, and commission others to provide services on their behalf. They receive the majority of their funding directly from the Welsh Government.
Although the services provided by local authorities are subject to laws, strategies and targets set and monitored mainly by the Welsh Government, they do have discretion in providing and delivering those services in their areas.
The responsibilities of local authorities are extensive and are found in numerous pieces of primary and secondary legislation passed by the UK Parliament and the National Assembly.
The list below provides a non-exhaustive overview of their general powers and responsibilities:
- civil registration services (births, deaths and marriages);
- cremation and burials;
- economic development and regeneration (including powers to provide grants and support businesses);
- education (including the provision of nursery, primary, secondary, full-time 16-19 year old education and post 19 year old education apart from Higher Education);
- environment (including public health, animal welfare, noise and light pollution, dog fouling, abandoned vehicles, maintenance of grounds and parks and litter etc.);
- emergency planning;
- fire and rescue services;
- food safety;
- certain highways (under provisions outlined in the Highways Act 1980);
- leisure and recreation;
- licensing (including responsibility for alcohol licensing, taxis, public entertainment and gambling);
- national parks;
- social services;
- strategic planning;
- trading standards; and
You can find more information on the Welsh Parliament's website here: https://www.assembly.wales/en/abthome/role-of-assembly-how-it-works/Pages/role-of-assembly-how-it-works.aspx
For updates on Brexit and what this means for the Welsh Government and Senedd: http://senedd.assembly.wales/mgIssueHistoryHome.aspx?IId=16035
Y Senedd (Senedd Cymru) yw'r corff a etholir yn ddemocrataidd sy'n cynrychioli buddiannau Cymru a'i phobl, yn gwneud deddfau i Gymru, yn cytuno ar drethi Cymru ac yn dwyn Llywodraeth Cymru i gyfrif.