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National Assembly for Wales
The National Assembly for Wales (or NAW) (Welsh: Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru) was established in 1998, following a 1997 referendum in which a small majority of voters (but not the electorate) voted in favour of the Labour Government's plans for devolution.
Unlike the Scottish Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly, the National Assembly for Wales cannot pass its own primary legislation, nor can it raise its own taxes, as these powers remain with Westminster. This is because unlike those other parts of the United Kingdom, Wales has had the same legal and administrative system as England. However, supporters of the Assembly argue that it is more democratically accountable than the Welsh Office, which was represented in the British Cabinet by a Secretary of State who often did not even represent a Welsh constituency at Westminster.
In July 2002 the Welsh Assembly Government established an independent commission, with Lord Ivor Richard (former leader of the House of Lords) as chair, into the powers and electoral arrangements of the National Assembly in order to ensure that it is able to operate in the best interests of the people of Wales. The Richard Commission reported in March 2004. It recommended that the National Assembly should have powers to legislate in certain matters, while other matters would be retained by Westminster. It also recommended changing the electoral system to the single transferable vote (STV) which can produce more proportional representation . The matter is still under discussion.
The Assembly is composed of 60 Assembly Members, known as AMs (in Welsh, Aelodau'r Cynulliad, ACau). Under the Additional Member System , 40 of the AMs are elected from single-member constituencies on a First Past the Post (more accurately termed single member plurality or SMP) basis, the constituencies being equivalent to those used for the House of Commons, while the remaining 20 AMs are elected from regional closed lists using an alternative party vote. This attempts to achieve a somewhat more proportional result than SMP, though there are too few 'top-up' seats to achieve any true proportionality. The Assembly sits in Cardiff, and will have a new, high-end assembly chamber in Cardiff Bay once construction is finished.
There have thus far been two elections to the Assembly, the first taking place in 1999 and the second in 2003. The second election produced the first ever democratically elected legislature in which 50 per cent of its members were women.
|Party||Seats||Current Assembly (elected in 2003)|
- Welsh Assembly Election 2003
- Welsh Assembly Election 1999
- UK topics
- Members of the National Assembly for Wales
- Government of Wales Act 1998
- Assembly website in English
- Assembly website in Welsh/Gwefan y Cynulliad yn Gymraeg
- Richard Commission
- Government of Wales Act 1998
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