The National Assembly for Wales is the devolved legislature for Wales. The Assembly was established in 1998 following the passage of the Government of Wales Act 1998. It consists of one chamber, and has power to legislate in a variety of policy areas that are not explicitly reserved to the Westminster Parliament, and to appoint the Welsh Assembly Government. The Assembly sits in Cardiff.
Elections to the National Assembly for Wales are conducted using a Proportional Representation election system called the Additional Member System (AMS). AMS is a hybrid voting system. It combines elements of
First Past the Post used for elections to the Westminster Parliament, and proportional representation, where voters select from a list of candidates for each party who represent a larger regional constituency.
Under AMS, each voter typically gets two votes – one for a candidate and one for a party. Each constituency returns a single candidate, in the style of First Past the Post. The votes for the party list candidates are then allocated on top of these constituency seats to ‘top up’ the number of seats won by each party to represent their share of the votes proportionally. These are the ‘additional members’.
In Wales 40 AMs are elected in single-member constituencies while 20 AMs are elected under Proportional Representation to represent one of five regions in Wales. This means that four AMs represent each Welsh region.
60 AMs are elected to sit in the National Assembly for Wales. Currently in Wales there is one AM per 38,000 constituents (approx). 40% of Welsh AMs are women.
The National Assembly for Wales only has the power to enact legislation in areas where power has been transferred to it from the Westminster Parliament. At the current time the Assembly has the power to legislate with regard to twenty subjects set out in Schedule 7 of the Government of Wales Act 2006. This can be found here.
How laws are passed
Introduction of the Bill: The Bill is formally introduced to the Assembly by a Minister, an individual AM or an assembly committee.
• Stage One: This stage involves the consideration of the general principles of a Bill by a committee (or committees), followed by the agreement of the general principles by the Assembly.
• Stage Two: This stage involves the detailed consideration, by a committee, of a Bill and any amendments (proposed changes to a bill) proposed by AM’s. Any AM can propose amendments to a bill. This stage ends when all amendments have been considered.
• Stage Three: This stage involves the detailed consideration, by the Assembly, of the Bill and any amendments proposed by Assembly Members.
• Stage Four: At this stage, there is a vote by the Assembly to pass the final text of the Bill.
• Royal Assent: Following all its stages in the Assembly, a Bill must receive Royal Assent before it can become an Act of the National Assembly of Wales.
For more information: www.assemblywales.org.