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Understanding devolution in Wales
Understanding devolution in Wales

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4.3 Wales’ Commissioners

Offering some more scrutiny of the Welsh Government are Wales’ Commissioners. Although funded by government, Commissioner appointments are approved by the Senedd.

  • Older People’s Commissioner
  • Children’s Commissioner
  • Welsh Language Commissioner
  • Future Generations Commissioner

Each individual is tasked with representing the interests of a particular group within Wales and advising public bodies in what their statutory duties entail. They all have offices and staff to assist them in this duty. They are often statutory consultees on Welsh legislation.

Wales was the first nation in the world to appoint a Future Generations Commissioner – a so-called ‘minister for the future’ – who ensures the policy makers have regard for the impact of their decisions on people who aren’t born yet.

It was also the first of the UK nations to appoint a Children’s Commissioner to protect and promote the rights of children in Wales. This work is underpinned by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

  • What difference do you think a more active media in Wales would make? Why does ‘forensic scrutiny’ matter?

  • The role of the media has historically been to inform the public, criticise the powerful and stimulate debate. Wales lacks a strong, independent media. While BBC Wales offers comprehensive, impartial reporting of politics in Wales, there are no major, well-funded outlets with the power to conduct investigations, “break” big stories or regularly subject politicians to rigorous and in-depth interviews. As such, politicians in Wales do not face the sort of scrutiny which is commonplace in other polities. That is not to say politicians in Wales behave improperly, but it does mean that the shortcomings in their policies and conduct are not always widely known.