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The History of Wales Welsh Parliament (Senedd)

The History of Wales Welsh Parliament (Senedd)

The establishment and evolution of the Welsh Parliament, known as the Senedd, is a significant part of Wales’ political history. Here is a detailed overview of the history of the Welsh Parliament:

Devolution Referendum (1997): The journey toward the creation of the Welsh Parliament began with the devolution referendum held in 1997. The referendum sought public approval for the establishment of a devolved legislature in Wales. The majority of Welsh voters supported devolution, paving the way for the creation of the National Assembly for Wales.

Government of Wales Act 1998: The Government of Wales Act 1998 provided the legal framework for devolution in Wales. It established the National Assembly for Wales, a devolved legislature with limited powers at the time. The Assembly’s primary role was to scrutinize the work of the executive (the Welsh Office) and to represent the interests of the people of Wales.

First Assembly Elections (1999): The first elections to the National Assembly for Wales took place on May 6, 1999. The Assembly had 60 members, known as Assembly Members (AMs), who were elected through an additional member system. Alun Michael became the first First Secretary of Wales, later renamed the First Minister.

Government of Wales Act 2006: The Government of Wales Act 2006 marked a significant development in the devolution process. It conferred additional legislative powers on the National Assembly, allowing it to pass laws on specified policy areas without seeking approval from the UK Parliament. The position of First Secretary was renamed as First Minister.

Renaming to the Senedd – May 2020: In May 2020, the National Assembly for Wales was officially renamed the Senedd, reflecting its status as a national parliament. The term “Senedd” is Welsh for parliament or senate.

Welsh Parliament (Senedd) Elections: The Senedd elections take place every five years. The most recent Senedd elections were held in May 2021. Members of the Senedd (MS) are elected to represent constituencies and regions across Wales.

Powers and Functions: The Senedd has legislative powers over devolved matters, including health, education, transportation, and local government. The reserved matters, such as defense and foreign affairs, remain under the control of the UK Parliament.

Reserved Powers Model – Wales Act 2017: The Wales Act 2017 introduced a reserved powers model, clarifying the devolved powers and specifying those reserved to the UK Parliament.

The Senedd plays a crucial role in shaping policies and legislation that directly impact the people of Wales, and its history reflects the ongoing evolution of devolution in the United Kingdom. For the most current information on the Senedd, please refer to recent sources or official government websites.

The Wales Devolution Referendum in 1997 was a crucial moment in the political history of Wales, leading to the establishment of the National Assembly for Wales. Here’s a detailed overview of the history and key events surrounding the Wales Devolution Referendum:


  • In the late 20th century, there was a growing demand for devolution in various parts of the United Kingdom, including Wales.
  • The Labour Party, led by Tony Blair, had included a commitment to devolution in its manifesto for the 1997 general election.

Election of 1997

The Labour Party won the general election in May 1997 with a landslide victory, leading to Tony Blair becoming the Prime Minister.

Publication of White Paper

In July 1997, the UK government published a White Paper titled “A Voice for Wales”, outlining proposals for devolution in Wales.

Devolution Referendum Act 1998

The UK Parliament passed the Devolution Referendums Act 1998, which paved the way for referendums on devolution in both Scotland and Wales.

Question in the Referendum

The question posed to voters in the Wales Devolution Referendum was: “Do you agree that there should be a Welsh Assembly as proposed by the Government?”

Date of the Referendum

The Wales Devolution Referendum took place on September 18, 1997, the same day as the Scottish Devolution Referendum.

Result of the Referendum

The majority of voters in Wales supported the establishment of a Welsh Assembly. The final result was 50.3% in favor of devolution and 49.7% against, with a turnout of 50.1%.

Establishment of the National Assembly for Wales

  • Following the positive referendum result, the UK Parliament passed the Government of Wales Act 1998, which received Royal Assent on July 31, 1998.
  • The National Assembly for Wales was established as a devolved legislature with the power to make decisions on certain policy areas, such as health and education.

First Assembly Elections (1999)

The first elections to the National Assembly for Wales were held on May 6, 1999. Alun Michael became the first leader of the devolved government.

The Wales Devolution Referendum of 1997 marked a significant step toward the establishment of the devolved government in Wales. It reflected a desire for greater decision-making powers within the country and paved the way for the development of Welsh political institutions.

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