Devolved powers

The Government of Wales Act 1998 did not empower the Welsh Assembly with primary law-making powers and hence its powers were originally limited to those of an executive and secondary law-making nature, with primary legislation being passed by the Westminster Parliament.  But since the coming into force of the Wales Act 2017 on 31 January 2017 the Welsh Assembly (Parliament since May 2020) has had primary law-making powers.

Since 2017 the reserved powers model, as used in Scotland, has been adopted.  The main differences are that in Wales:

  • Justice is a general reservation, so as to preserve the single legal jurisdiction of England and Wales, and
  • the specific reservations are more extensive.

Welsh Parliament

The Welsh Parliament or Senedd has 60 members (MSs, rather than MPs) of which 60 are elected to represent Welsh constituencies and a further 20 are elected to represent five electoral regions, based on a system of proportional representation.

Welsh Government

  • is headed by the First Minster (rather than Prime Minister), appointed by the Monarch after being nominated by the Senedd,
  • has a cabinet of up to 12 ministers who are appointed by the First Minister with the Monarch’s approval,[1] and
  • has a law officer known as the Counsel General (rather than Attorney General).

Legislative competence

As with the Scottish Parliament, an act outside the Senedd’s legislative competence is not law and very similar provisions apply to require or empower four officers to consider the issue of legislative competence.[2]

[1] The personnel of the Welsh government are listed here.

[2] Government of Wales Act 2006, s108A.