Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve pulled together some of the most frequently asked questions and their answers into this area of the site. Keep checking for new questions as we’ll be updating them regularly. If you’d like an answer to a question that hasn’t been covered then get in touch via the contact us section.
1. What exactly will the Convention do?
The All Wales Convention will explain to the Welsh public about the powers currently available to the National Assembly for Wales and to the Welsh Ministers (or ‘ the system of government in Wales’) and also assess the implications of moving towards full law making powers, considering the arguments for and against a move in this direction.
The All Wales Convention will aim to give a wide range of people across Wales, the opportunity to share their views on this subject, so that the question of full law making powers can be explored thoroughly with a full appreciation of people’s views and concerns. These views will then be considered as part of a report that will be presented to the Welsh Assembly Government so they can make a fully informed decision on whether Wales is ready for a referendum.
The specific objectives of the All Wales Convention are to:
- Raise awareness and improve understanding of the current arrangements for devolved government in Wales and of the provisions of Part 4 of the Government of Wales Act 2006, and their future implications for the governance of Wales.
- Facilitate and stimulate a widespread, thorough and participative consultation at all levels of Welsh society on the issue of full law making powers.
- Prepare an analysis of the views expressed and the evidence presented through this process.
- Assess the level of public support for giving the National Assembly for Wales primary law making powers.
- Report to the Welsh Assembly Government on its findings, with recommendations relevant to the holding of a referendum.
2. What are the current law making powers of the National assembly for Wales?
The existing law making powers of the National Assembly for Wales (the Assembly) are set out in Part 3 of the Government of Wales Act (GOWA) 2006. These came into force following the National Assembly elections in May 2007.
The National Assembly for Wales has powers to pass laws called Assembly Measures. Measures can only be passed in defined policy areas called Matters. Matters are listed in Schedule 5 to the Government of Wales Act (GOWA) 2006, under broad policy area descriptions called fields.
Further Matters can be added to Schedule 5, provided they relate to one of the devolved policy areas that are set out in that schedule. They can be added either:
- through inclusion in a UK Parliamentary Act, or
- by an Order in Council (called a Legislative Competence Order (LCO)).
Whichever route is used, new matters can be included in Schedule 5 only with the agreement of the UK Parliament. This means that areas of policy in which the National Assembly will be able to pass laws will be added to Schedule 5 gradually, on a case by case basis, by agreement with Parliament.
3. What would it mean if the National Assembly for Wales had full law making powers under Part 4 of the Government of Wales Act (GOWA) 2006?
If the National Assembly had full law making powers, it would be able to pass laws, called Acts, in the full range of devolved policy areas. It would acquire these powers all at once, if and when Part 4 came into force.
The National Assembly would, therefore, have unrestricted powers to pass Acts in all devolved policy areas. It would no longer need to seek Parliament’s agreement, on a case by case basis.
The areas of policy where the National Assembly would be able to pass Acts, i.e., the full range of devolved policy areas, are set out in Schedule 7 to GOWA 2006.
4. How and when could the National Assembly for Wales acquire full law making powers?
Currently, the Assembly does not have full law making powers, as Part 4 and Schedule 7 of the Government of Wales Act (GOWA) 2006 are not in force.
To enable the transfer of full law making powers, two thirds of the National Assembly Members and a majority of Members of Parliament, together with the Secretary of State for Wales, would need to agree to call a referendum on the issue.
If a majority of those who voted in a referendum were in favour, the National Assembly would be given the power to make laws in all the areas set out in Schedule 7 (i.e. in the full range of devolved policy areas) without needing to seek permission from Westminster on a case by case basis.
5. What is the difference between the National Assembly for Wales’ powers to pass Measures, and the executive powers of the Welsh Assembly Government?
The National Assembly for Wales can pass Measures under new powers in the Government of Wales Act (GOWA) 2006, Part 3. Such Measures have an effect similar to an Act of Parliament. The Assembly cannot pass Measures in the full range of devolved policy areas, but only in those areas where it has acquired the powers through an LCO or UK Bill.
The Welsh Ministers, who form the Welsh Assembly Government (along with the Counsel General and Deputy Welsh Ministers), have executive powers in a wide range of policy areas – basically, in the policy areas which are devolved in Wales.
These executive powers include powers to pass subordinate legislation (i.e., legislation which is subordinate to Acts of Parliament or Measures); issue guidance and set policy direction in devolved policy areas in Wales.
Sometimes, the Welsh Assembly Government does not have enough executive powers to take forward its policies in devolved policy areas. At such times, it needs to acquire further powers through either Acts of Parliament or Assembly Measures.