The National Assembly for Wales began in 1999. It is our political body made up of 60 elected Assembly Members (AMs) which makes decisions affecting Wales. They meet in the Senedd building in Cardiff Bay, which opened in 2006 and has won awards for its sustainability and green credentials.
The Welsh Government is made up of Assembly Ministers drawn from these elected members and is headed by the First Minister of Wales. The Welsh Government has responsibility for policy and budget priorities and is scrutinised by the legislature, the National Assembly for Wales.
In May 2007, separation between the legislative National Assembly for Wales and the executive Welsh Government took effect under the Government of Wales Act 2006. The Act created a new category of legislation called Measures of the National Assembly and increased the National Assembly’s law making powers.
A yes vote in a referendum in March 2011 secured further law making powers for the National Assembly, superceeding the need for Assembly measures. The National Assembly for Wales is able to pass laws on all subjects in the 20 devolved areas without first needing the agreement of the UK Parliament. Proposed laws are called Bills and enacted laws are called Acts.
The first Welsh bill passed under the National Assembly’s new legislative powers received Royal Assent on 13 November, 2012. The National Assembly for Wales (Official Languages) Act became law when the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones applied the Welsh Seal to the letters patent. The Act ensures that the languages of Welsh and English are treated as equal in the Assembly.
More recently, the Wales Act 2014 devolves a range of tax and increased borrowing powers to Wales including stamp duty, land tax and landfill tax. The Act also, subject to a referendum, gives Welsh Ministers the powers to vary income tax with the introduction of a Welsh rate to help grow and strengthen the Welsh economy.
In Wales we also elect 40 members to the UK Parliament where responsibility for some non devolved policy areas for Wales resides. On a European level, we elect four members to the European Parliament which produces legislation for member states of the European Union.
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