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Introduction to law in Wales
Introduction to law in Wales

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3.4 The Government of Wales Act 2006

The 2006 Act in effect amended the devolved powers of the Welsh Assembly and illustrated that devolution in Wales was a ‘process and not an event’.

The 2006 Act made a number of significant changes, such as:

  • creating powers for the Assembly to seek permission to create legislation on devolved issues (these take the form of Assembly Measures), which enabled enhanced legislative powers to be gained
  • separating the executive and legislature
  • establishing the Welsh government as an executive body – at the time of writing there are eleven Cabinet Ministers whose work affects areas such as health, education, transport and local government
  • making provision for further referendums on extending the powers of the Welsh Assembly.

The Welsh government comprises the First Minister, Welsh Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Counsel General. They have responsibility for making and implementing policy, and subordinate executive. The 2006 Act in effect created a separate legislature whose decisions can now be kept in check by the National Assembly. The role of the Assembly is to make laws and represent the people of Wales.

The National Assembly now had the power to make laws for Wales in defined areas. This was usually done through Legislative Competence Orders approved by the National Assembly and by both Houses of the UK Parliament. It was also done by framework powers conferred directly on the National Assembly through sections that were included in Acts of the UK Parliament.