The government was established in 1999 as the Welsh Assembly Government by the Government of Wales Act 1998, which created a devolved administration for Wales in line with the result of the 1997 referendum on Welsh devolution. The government consists of cabinet secretaries, who attend cabinet meetings, and ministers who do not, and also of a counsel general. It is led by the first minister, usually the leader of the largest party in the National Assembly, who selects cabinet secretaries, ministers and deputy ministers with the approval of the assembly. The government is responsible for tabling policy in devolved areas for consideration by the assembly and implementing policy that has been approved by it.
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As initially established, the Welsh Government had no independent executive powers in law (unlike, for instance, the Scottish ministers and British government ministers). The National Assembly was established as a body corporate by the Government of Wales Act 1998 and the executive, as a committee of the assembly, only had those powers that the assembly as a whole voted to delegate to ministers.
The Government of Wales Act 2006 formally separated the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Government, giving Welsh ministers independent executive authority, this taking effect after the May 2007 elections. Following separation, the Welsh ministers exercise functions in their own right. Further transfers of executive functions from the British government can be made directly to the Welsh ministers (with their consent) by an Order in Council approved by the British parliament.
Separation was designed to clarify the respective roles of the assembly and the government. Under the structures established by the Government of Wales Act 2006, the role of Welsh ministers is to make decisions; develop and implement policy; exercise executive functions and make statutory instruments. The 60 assembly members in the National Assembly scrutinise the government's decisions and policies; hold ministers to account; approve budgets for the Welsh Government's programmes; and enact acts of assembly on subjects that have been devolved to the Welsh administration.
The new arrangements provided for in the Government of Wales Act 2006 created a formal legal separation between the National Assembly for Wales, comprising 60 assembly members, and the Welsh Government, comprising the First Minister, Welsh ministers, deputy ministers and the counsel general. This separation between the two bodies took effect on the appointment of the First Minister by Queen Elizabeth II following the assembly election on 3 May 2007.
Separation was meant to clarify the respective roles of the assembly and the government. The role of the government is to make decisions; develop and implement policy; exercise executive functions and make statutory instruments. The 60 assembly members in the National Assembly scrutinise the Welsh Government's decisions and policies; hold ministers to account; approve budgets for the Welsh Government's programmes; and have the power to enact assembly measures on certain matters. Assembly measures can now go further than the subordinate legislation which the assembly had the power to make prior to 2007.
The assembly's functions, including that of making subordinate legislation, in the main, transferred to the Welsh ministers upon separation. A third body was also established under the 2006 Act from May 2007, called the National Assembly for Wales Commission. It employs the staff supporting the new National Assembly for Wales, and holds property, enters into contracts and provides support services on its behalf.
The 2006 Act made new provision for the appointment of Welsh ministers. The First Minister is nominated by the Assembly and then appointed by Her Majesty the Queen. The First Minister then appoints the Welsh Ministers and the Deputy Welsh Ministers, with the approval of Her Majesty. The Act created a new post of Counsel General for Wales, the principal source of legal advice to the Welsh Government. The Counsel General is appointed by the Queen, on the nomination of the First Minister, whose recommendation must be agreed by the National Assembly. The Counsel General may be, but does not have to be, an Assembly Member. The Act permits a maximum of 12 Welsh Ministers, which includes Deputy Welsh Ministers, but excludes the First Minister and the Counsel General. Accordingly, the maximum size of the Welsh Government is 14.
Following the "yes" vote in the referendum on further law-making powers for the assembly on 3 March 2011, the Welsh Government is now entitled to propose bills to the National Assembly for Wales on subjects within 20 fields of policy. Subject to limitations prescribed by the Government of Wales Act 2006, Acts of the National Assembly may make any provision that could be made by Act of Parliament. The 20 areas of responsibility devolved to the National Assembly for Wales (and within which Welsh ministers exercise executive functions) are:
The government is composed of cabinet secretaries and ministers. The counsel general attends cabinet meetings. The current government is formed by Welsh Labour, the sole Liberal Democrats Assembly Member, Kirsty Williams and Independent AM Dafydd Elis-Thomas.
|First Minister||Rt. Hon Carwyn Jones AM||2009–||Labour|
|Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport||Ken Skates AM||2017–||Labour|
|Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services||Vaughan Gething AM||2017–||Labour|
|Cabinet Secretary for Education||Kirsty Williams AM||2016–||Liberal Democrats|
|Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Public Services||Alun Davies AM||2017–||Labour|
|Cabinet Secretary for Finance||Mark Drakeford AM||2017–||Labour|
|Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs||Lesley Griffiths AM||2017–||Labour|
|Leader of the House and Chief Whip||Julie James AM||2017–||Labour|
|Minister for Children and Social Care||Huw Irranca- Davies AM||2017–||Labour|
|Minister for Welsh Language & Lifelong Learning||Rt. Hon Eluned Morgan AM||2017–||Labour|
|Minister for Environment||Hannah Blythyn AM||2017–||Labour|
|Minister for Housing and Regeneration||Rebecca Evans AM||2017–||Labour|
|Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport||Rt. Hon Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM||2017-||Independent|
|Counsel General for Wales||Jeremy Miles AM||2017–||Labour|
The Welsh Government also includes a civil service that supports the Welsh ministers. As of September 2017, there are 4,957 full-time equivalent civil servants working across Wales. The civil service is a matter reserved to the British parliament at Westminster: Welsh Government civil servants work within the rules and customs of Her Majesty's Civil Service, but serve the devolved administration rather than the British government.
The permanent secretary heads the civil service of the Welsh Government and chairs the Strategic Delivery and Performance Board.
The permanent secretary is a member of the Her Majesty's Civil Service, and therefore takes part in the permanent secretaries management group of the Civil Service and is answerable to the most senior civil servant in Britain, the cabinet secretary, for his or her professional conduct. He or she remains, however, at the direction of the Welsh ministers.
The Strategic Delivery and Performance Board translates the strategic direction set by the Welsh cabinet and its committees into work that is joined up across Welsh Government departments and makes the best use of its resources. The board is made up of four directors general, four directors and 3 non-executive directors, and is chaired by the permanent secretary.
Board members are appointed at the discretion of and by the permanent secretary. Membership is not wholly dependent on functional responsibilities; it is designed to provide balanced advice and support to the permanent secretary, and collective leadership to the organisation as a whole.
|Permanent Secretary||Dame Shan Morgan, CMG|
|Director General – Education and Public Services Group||Tracey Burke|
|Director General – Economy, Skills & Natural Resources Group||Andrew Slade|
|Director General, Health & Social Services and Chief Executive of NHS Wales||Dr. Andrew Goodall|
|Director General, Office of the First Minister & Brexit Group||Des Clifford|
|Director, Legal Services||Jeff Godfrey|
|Director, Governance & Performance||David Richards|
|Director, Finance||Gawain Evans|
|Director, HR & Corporate Services||Peter Kennedy|
|non-executive director||Elan Closs Stephens|
|non-executive director||James Turner|
|non-executive director||Ann Keane|
|non-executive director||Jeff Fararr|
|non-executive director||Ellen Donovan|
The Welsh Government is responsible for a number of Welsh Government sponsored bodies (WGSBs). These are, respectively,
WGSBs are staffed by public servants rather than civil servants.
The Welsh Government is also responsible for some public bodies that are not classed as WGSBs, such as NHS Wales, and the Welsh Offices of England and Wales legal offices.
The Welsh Government has a total of 22 core offices across Wales. It also has an office based in Westminster in London. The Government also has 15 offices located in 7 countries outside the United Kingdom, including China, India, United Arab Emirates and the United States.
Historically, most Welsh Office staff were based in Cardiff, especially in Cathays Park. However, in 2002, the Fullerton Review concluded that "the Assembly could no longer sustain having the majority of its operational functions located in and around Cardiff". Since 2004, Welsh Government civil servants have been relocated across Wales as part of the Location Strategy, which involved the creation of new offices at Merthyr Tydfil, Aberystwyth and Llandudno Junction. In 2006, the mergers of ELWa, the Wales Tourist Board and the Welsh Development Agency into the Welsh Government brought these agencies' offices into the Welsh Government estate.
The office of the First Minister is in Tŷ Hywel in Cardiff Bay; an office is also kept at the Welsh Government building in Cathays Park where the majority of Cardiff-based Welsh Government civil servants are located.
The old Crown Building in Cathays Park – original home of the Welsh Office