Monarchy of the United Kingdom
The monarchy of the United Kingdom referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom, its dependencies and its overseas territories. The current monarch and head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who ascended the throne in 1952; the monarch and their immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial and representational duties. As the monarchy is constitutional, the monarch is limited to non-partisan functions such as bestowing honours and appointing the Prime Minister; the monarch is commander-in-chief of the British Armed Forces. Though the ultimate executive authority over the government is still formally by and through the monarch's royal prerogative, these powers may only be used according to laws enacted in Parliament and, in practice, within the constraints of convention and precedent; the British monarchy traces its origins from the petty kingdoms of early medieval Scotland and Anglo-Saxon England, which consolidated into the kingdoms of England and Scotland by the 10th century.
England was conquered by the Normans in 1066, after which Wales too came under control of Anglo-Normans. The process was completed in the 13th century when the Principality of Wales became a client state of the English kingdom. Meanwhile, Magna Carta began a process of reducing the English monarch's political powers. From 1603, the English and Scottish kingdoms were ruled by a single sovereign. From 1649 to 1660, the tradition of monarchy was broken by the republican Commonwealth of England, which followed the Wars of the Three Kingdoms; the Act of Settlement 1701 excluded Roman Catholics, or those who married them, from succession to the English throne. In 1707, the kingdoms of England and Scotland were merged to create the Kingdom of Great Britain, in 1801, the Kingdom of Ireland joined to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; the British monarch was the nominal head of the vast British Empire, which covered a quarter of the world's surface at its greatest extent in 1921. In the early 1920s the Balfour Declaration recognised the evolution of the Dominions of the Empire into separate, self-governing countries within a Commonwealth of Nations.
After the Second World War, the vast majority of British colonies and territories became independent bringing the Empire to an end. George VI and his successor, Elizabeth II, adopted the title Head of the Commonwealth as a symbol of the free association of its independent member states; the United Kingdom and fifteen other independent sovereign states that share the same person as their monarch are called Commonwealth realms. Although the monarch is shared, each country is sovereign and independent of the others, the monarch has a different and official national title and style for each realm. In the uncodified Constitution of the United Kingdom, the monarch is the head of state; the Queen's image is used to signify British sovereignty and government authority—her profile, for instance, appearing on currency, her portrait in government buildings. The sovereign is further both mentioned in and the subject of songs, loyal toasts, salutes. "God Save the Queen" is the British national anthem. Oaths of allegiance are made to her lawful successors.
The monarch takes little direct part in government. The decisions to exercise sovereign powers are delegated from the monarch, either by statute or by convention, to ministers or officers of the Crown, or other public bodies, exclusive of the monarch personally, thus the acts of state done in the name of the Crown, such as Crown Appointments if performed by the monarch, such as the Queen's Speech and the State Opening of Parliament, depend upon decisions made elsewhere: Legislative power is exercised by the Queen-in-Parliament, by and with the advice and consent of Parliament, the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Executive power is exercised by Her Majesty's Government, which comprises ministers the prime minister and the Cabinet, technically a committee of the Privy Council, they have the direction of the Armed Forces of the Crown, the Civil Service and other Crown Servants such as the Diplomatic and Secret Services. Judicial power is vested in the various judiciaries of the United Kingdom, who by constitution and statute have judicial independence of the Government.
The Church of England, of which the monarch is the head, has its own legislative and executive structures. Powers independent of government are granted to other public bodies by statute or Statutory Instrument such as an Order in Council, Royal Commission or otherwise; the sovereign's role as a constitutional monarch is limited to non-partisan functions, such as granting honours. This role has been recognised since the 19th century; the constitutional writer Walter Bagehot identified the monarchy in 1867 as the "dignified part" rather than the "efficient part" of government. Whenever necessary, the monarch is responsible for appointing a new prime minister. In accordance with unwritten constitutional conventions, the sovereign must appoint an individual who commands the support of the House of Commons the leader of the party or coalition that has a majority in that House; the prime minister takes office by attending the monarch in private audience, after "kissing hands" that appointment is effective without any other f
The Welsh Government is the devolved government of Wales. It was established by the Government of Wales Act 1998, which created a devolved administration for Wales in line with the result of the 1997 referendum on devolution; the Welsh Government formally separated from the Assembly in 2007 following the passage of the Government of Wales Act 2006. The government consists of ministers, who attend cabinet meetings, deputy ministers who do not, of a counsel general, it is led by the first minister the leader of the largest party in the National Assembly, who selects 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, approved by it; the current Welsh Government is a Labour led administration, following the 2016 National Assembly for Wales election. Mark Drakeford has been the First Minister of Wales since December 2018; as established, the Welsh Government had no independent executive powers in law.
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 by an Order in Council approved by the British parliament. Separation was designed to clarify the respective roles of the government. Under the structures established by the Government of Wales Act 2006, the role of Welsh ministers is to make decisions; the 60 assembly members in the National Assembly scrutinise policies. The result mirrored much more the relationship between the British government and British parliament and that between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament.
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, the Welsh Assembly 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 government; the role of the government is to make decisions. The 60 assembly members in the National Assembly scrutinise the Welsh Government's decisions and policies. 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 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, 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 appointed by Her Majesty the Queen. The First Minister 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 are: Agriculture, fisheries and rural development Ancient monuments and historical buildings Culture Economic development Education and training Environment Fire and rescue services and promotion of fire safety Food Health and health services Highways and transport Housing Local government National Assembly for Wales Public administration Social welfare Sport and rec
A Queen's Counsel, or King's Counsel during the reign of a king, is an eminent lawyer, appointed by the monarch to be one of "Her Majesty's Counsel learned in the law." The term is recognised as an honorific. The position exists in some Commonwealth jurisdictions around the world, but other Commonwealth countries have either abolished the position, or re-named it to eliminate monarchical connotations, such as "Senior Counsel" or "Senior Advocate". Queen's Counsel is an office, conferred by the Crown, recognised by courts. Members have the privilege of sitting within the bar of court; as members wear silk gowns of a particular design, appointment as Queen's Counsel is known informally as taking silk, hence QCs are colloquially called silks. Appointments are made from within the legal profession on the basis of merit rather than a particular level of experience. However, successful applicants tend to be barristers, or advocates with 15 years of experience or more; the Attorney General, Solicitor-General and King's Serjeants were King's Counsel in Ordinary in the Kingdom of England.
The first Queen's Counsel Extraordinary was Sir Francis Bacon, given a patent giving him precedence at the Bar in 1597, formally styled King's Counsel in 1603. The new rank of King's Counsel contributed to the gradual obsolescence of the more senior serjeant-at-law by superseding it; the Attorney-General and Solicitor-General had succeeded the King's Serjeants as leaders of the Bar in Tudor times, though not technically senior until 1623 and 1813, respectively. But the King's Counsel emerged into eminence only in the early 1830s, prior to when they were few in number, it became the standard means to recognise a barrister as a senior member of the profession, the numbers multiplied accordingly. It became of greater professional importance to become a KC, the serjeants declined; the KCs inherited the prestige of their priority before the courts. The earliest English law list, published in 1775, lists 165 members of the Bar, of whom 14 were King's Counsel, a proportion of about 8.5%. As of 2010 the same proportion existed, though the number of barristers had increased to about 12,250 in independent practice.
In 1839 the number of Queen's Counsel was seventy. In 1882, the number of Queen's Counsel was 187; the list of Queen's Counsel in the Law List of 1897 gave the names of 238, of whom hardly one third appeared to be in actual practice. In 1959, the number of practising Queen's Counsel was 181. In each of the five years up to 1970, the number of practising Queen's Counsel was 208, 209, 221, 236 and 262, respectively. In each of the years 1973 to 1978, the number of practising Queen's Counsel was 329, 345, 370, 372, 384 and 404, respectively. In 1989, the number of practising Queen's Counsel was 601. In each of the years 1991 to 2000, the number of practising Queen's Counsel was 736, 760, 797, 845, 891, 925, 974, 1006, 1043, 1072, respectively; the title traditionally depends on the sex of the sovereign. The current Queen, Elizabeth II has had a long reign, few if any people appointed as King's Counsel survive, it can be assumed that, should the Queen die and the reign pass to a descendant, holders of the title will again become KC, as the next three in line to the throne are male heirs.
Queen's Counsel and serjeants were prohibited, at least from the mid-nineteenth century onward, from drafting pleadings alone. They were not permitted to appear in court without a junior barrister, they had to have chambers in London. From the beginning, they were not allowed to appear against the Crown without a special licence, but this was given as a formality; this stipulation was important in criminal cases, which are brought in the name of the Crown. The result was that, until 1920 in England and Wales, King's and Queen's Counsel had to have a licence to appear in criminal cases for the defence; these restrictions had a number of consequences: they made the taking of "silk" something of a professional risk, because the appointment abolished at a stroke some of the staple work of the junior barrister. By the end of the twentieth century, all of these rules had been abolished one by one. Appointment as QC is now a matter of prestige only, with no formal disadvantages. Queen's Counsel were traditionally selected from barristers, rather than from lawyers in general, because they were counsel appointed to conduct court work on behalf of the Crown.
Although the limitations on private instruction were relaxed, QCs continued to be selected from barristers, who had the sole right of audience in the higher courts. The first woman appointed King's Counsel was Helen Kinnear in Canada in 1934; the first women to be appointed as King's Counsel in the United Kingdom were Helena Normanton and Rose Heilbron in 1949. In 1994 solicitors of England and Wales became entitled to gain rights of audience in the higher courts, some 275 were so entitled in 1995. In 1995, these solicitors alone became entitled to apply for appointment as Queen's Counsel, the first two solicitors were appointed on 27 March 1997, out of 68 new QCs; these were Arthur Marriott, partner of the London office of the American law firm of Wilmer Cutler and Pickering based in Washington, D. C. and Law
A unitary authority is a type of local authority that has a single tier and is responsible for all local government functions within its area or performs additional functions which elsewhere in the relevant country are performed by national government or a higher level of sub-national government. Unitary authorities cover towns or cities which are large enough to function independently of county or other regional administration. Sometimes they consist of national sub-divisions which are distinguished from others in the same country by having no lower level of administration. In Canada, each province creates its own system of local government, so terminology varies substantially. In certain provinces there is only one level of local government in that province, so no special term is used to describe the situation. British Columbia has only one such municipality, Northern Rockies Regional Municipality, established in 2009. In Ontario the term single-tier municipalities is used, for a similar concept.
Their character varies, while most function as cities with no upper level of government, some function as counties or regional municipalities with no lower municipal subdivisions below them. They exist as individual census divisions, as well as separated municipalities. In Germany, kreisfreie Stadt is the equivalent term for a city with the competences of both the Gemeinde and the Kreis administrative level; the directly elected chief executive officer of a kreisfreie Stadt is called Oberbürgermeister. The British counties have no directly corresponding counterpart in Germany; this German system corresponds in the Czech Republic. Until 1 January 2007, the municipalities of Copenhagen and Bornholm were not a part of a Danish county. In New Zealand, a unitary authority is a territorial authority that performs the functions of a regional council. There are five unitary authorities; the Chatham Islands, located east of the South Island, have a council with its own special legislation, constituted with powers similar to those of a regional authority.
In Poland, a miasto na prawach powiatu, or shortly powiat grodzki is a big, city, responsible for district administrative level, being part of no other powiat. In total, 65 cities in Poland have this status. In the United Kingdom, "unitary authorities" are English local authorities set up in accordance with the Local Government Changes for England Regulations 1994 made under powers conferred by the Local Government Act 1992 to form a single tier of local government in specified areas and which are responsible for all local government functions within such areas. While outwardly appearing to be similar, single-tier authorities formed using older legislation are not Unitary Authorities thus excluding e.g. the Isle of Wight Council or any other single-tier authority formed under the Local Government Act 1972 or older legislation. This is distinct from the two-tier system of local government which still exists in most of England, where local government functions are divided between county councils and district or borough councils.
Until 1996 two-tier systems existed in Scotland and Wales, but these have now been replaced by systems based on a single-tier of local government with some functions shared between groups of adjacent authorities. A single-tier system has existed in Northern Ireland since 1973. For many years the description of the number of tiers in UK local government arrangements has ignored any current or previous bodies at the lowest level of authorities elected by the voters within their area such as parish or community councils. Northern Ireland is divided into 11 districts for local government purposes. In Northern Ireland local councils have no responsibility for road building or housing, their functions include waste and recycling services and community services, building control and local economic and cultural development. Since their reorganisation in 2015 councils in Northern Ireland have taken on responsibility for planning functions; the collection of rates is handled by the Property Services agency.
Category: Subdivisions of Northern Ireland Local authorities in Scotland are unitary in nature but not in name. The Local Government etc. Act 1994 created a single tier of local government throughout Scotland. On 1 April 1996, 32 local government areas, each with a council, replaced the previous two-tier structure, which had regional and district councils. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar uses the alternative Gaelic designation Comhairle; the phrase "unitary authority" is not used in Scottish legislation, although the term is encountered in publications and in use by United Kingdom government departments. Local authorities in Wales are unitary in nature but are described by the Local Government Act 1994 as "principal councils", their areas as principal areas. Various other legislation (e.g. s.9
Secretary of State for Wales
Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Wales is the principal minister of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom with responsibilities for Wales. He or she is the head of the Wales Office, he or she is responsible for ensuring Welsh interests are taken into account by Her Majesty's Government, representing the government within Wales and overseeing the passing of legislation, only for Wales. The current Secretary of State for Wales is Alun Cairns, following his appointment in 2016. In the first half of the 20th century, a number of politicians had supported the creation of the post of Secretary of State for Wales as a step towards Home Rule for Wales. A post of Minister of Welsh Affairs was created in 1951 under the Home Secretary and was upgraded to Minister of State level in 1954; the Labour Party proposed the creation of a Welsh Office run by a Secretary of State for Wales in their manifesto for the 1959 general election. When they came to power in 1964 this was soon put into effect.
The post of Secretary of State for Wales came into existence on 17 October 1964. The position entailed responsibility for Wales, expenditure on certain public services was delegated from Westminster. In April 1965 administration of Welsh affairs, divided between a number of government departments, was united in a newly created Welsh Office with the Secretary of State for Wales at its head, the Welsh Secretary became responsible for education and training, health and industry, environment and agriculture within Wales. During the 1980s and 1990s, as the number of Conservative MPs for Welsh constituencies dwindled to zero, the office fell into disrepute. Nicholas Edwards, MP for Pembrokeshire, held the post for eight years. On his departure, the government ceased to look within Wales for the Secretary of State, the post was used as a way of getting junior high-fliers into the Cabinet. John Redwood in particular caused embarrassment when he publicly demonstrated his inability to sing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau", the Welsh national anthem, at a conference.
The introduction of the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Government, after the devolution referendum of 1997, was the beginning of a new era. On 1 July 1999 the majority of the functions of the Welsh Office transferred to the new assembly; the Welsh Office was disbanded, but the post of Secretary of State for Wales was retained, as the head of the newly created Wales Office. Since 1999 there have been calls for the office of Welsh Secretary to be scrapped or merged with the posts of Secretary of State for Scotland and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, to reflect the lesser powers of the role since devolution. Colour key Conservative National Liberal Labour Note First Minister for Wales Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Secretary of State for Scotland Labour Party in Wales – covers the history of the post Hain promoted in Brown's cabinet, BBC News Online, 28 June 2007 Hain takes work and pensions job, BBC News Online, 28 June 2007
NHS Wales is the official corporate name of the Welsh National Health Service, a publicly funded healthcare system, the responsibility of the Welsh Government. NHS Wales was formed as part of the public health system for England and Wales created by the National Health Service Act 1946 with powers over the NHS in Wales coming under the Secretary of State for Wales in 1969; that year, the latter took over much of the responsibility for health services in Wales, being supported in this by the Welsh Office, established in 1964. Following the pre-legislative Welsh devolution referendum of 18 September 1997, Royal Assent was given on 31 July to the Government of Wales Act 1998; this created the National Assembly for Wales, to which overall responsibility for NHS Wales was devolved in 1999. Responsibility, for NHS Wales was passed to the Welsh Government under devolution in 1999 and has since been the responsibility of the Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services. NHS Wales provides emergency services and a range of primary and specialist tertiary care services.
District General Hospitals provide outpatient and accident and emergency services, there is a network of community hospitals run by GPs. Specialist hospitals provide services such as plastic and cardiac surgery. NHS Wales funds GP services, dental services and sexual health services. Community services are provided which includes district nurses, health visitors and community-based speech therapists and occupational therapists; the NHS delivers services through seven health boards and four NHS trusts in Wales. The seven local health boards in Wales are: Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board Aneurin Bevan Local Health Board Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board Cardiff & Vale University Health Board Cwm Taf University Health Board Hywel Dda Local Health Board Powys Teaching Health BoardEach LHB is responsible for delivering all NHS healthcare services within a geographical area. Four NHS trusts, called ` all-Wales trusts', operate nationwide services; these are: the Welsh Ambulance Service Velindre University NHS Trust, which operates the Velindre Cancer Centre and the Welsh Blood Service Public Health Wales Health Education & Improvement WalesThe current health boards were created on 1 October 2009 following a reorganisation of NHS Wales that saw the abolition of 22 local health boards and seven NHS trusts that had existed since 2003.
Since the reorganisation health boards are responsible for delivering all NHS services, rather than the two-tiered trust and LHB system that existed previously. Wales' largest teaching hospital, the University Hospital of Wales based in Cardiff is the largest hospital outside London and third-largest in the United Kingdom. Five of the health boards paid for spot contracts with private healthcare providers costing a total of more than £6 million between 2013 and 2015 to carry out NHS work on elective surgery. Another important organisation in the structure is Health Commission Wales; this is an executive agency of the Welsh Government whose primary role is to centrally organise and fund all tertiary care and other specialist services. It provides advice and guidance about specialist services to other parts of NHS Wales; the NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership supports NHS Wales through the provision of a range of support functions and services at an NHS Wales wide scale. It is hosted within Velindre University NHS Trust, as well as being governed by the Shared Services Partnership Committee NHS Wales Informatics Service, established in April 2010 is a national organisation responsible for the strategic development of Information Communications Technology, the delivery of operational ICT services and information management It is'hosted unit' of Velindre University NHS Trust.
NHS Direct Wales/Galw Iechyd Cymru provides a non-emergency telephone health advice and information service. It operates 24 hours a day every day of the year with callers being given the option of communicating in Welsh or English. NHS Direct Wales is part of the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust. There are eight Community Health Councils in Wales which monitor the quality of the NHS services provided within a Health Board area and provide information about available services to the public. NHS Wales provides public healthcare in Wales and directly employs some 72,000 staff, making it Wales's biggest employer, it employs a wide range of staff such as doctors, nurses and paramedics as well as allied health professionals such as technicians, microbiologists and pharmacists. Staff in its support services include administrative staff and management staff and domestic support staff. In April 2018 there were 1,926 general practitioners working in Wales, 83 less than in 2017. Most staff working for NHS Wales, including non-clinical staff and GPs, are eligible to join the NHS Pension Scheme which, from 1 April 2015, is a career salary-average defined benefit scheme.
The Welsh Health Minister Mark Drakeford decided that from September 2014 NHS Wales staff would be paid at least the living wage, resulting in about 2,400 employees receiving an increase in salary of up to £470 above UK wide Agenda for Change rates. The pay deal for NHS staff in Wales for 2018-21 was said to be better than that for England because it guaranteed basic pay awards for the next three years to staff who are at the top of their bands; the geography of Wales means. The population of north Wales is too small to support specialist units, so patients tra
National Assembly for Wales
The National Assembly for Wales is the devolved parliament of Wales, with power to make legislation, vary taxes and scrutinise the Welsh Government. The Assembly comprises AMs. Since 2011, Members are elected for five-year terms under an additional members system, in which 40 AMs represent geographical constituencies elected by the plurality system, 20 AMs represent five electoral regions using the d'Hondt method of proportional representation; the largest party in the Assembly forms the Welsh Government. The Assembly was created by the Government of Wales Act 1998, which followed a referendum in 1997; the Assembly had no powers to initiate primary legislation until limited law-making powers were gained through the Government of Wales Act 2006. Its primary law-making powers were enhanced following a Yes vote in the referendum on 3 March 2011, making it possible for it to legislate without having to consult the UK parliament or the Secretary of State for Wales in the 20 areas that are devolved.
Legislation has been introduced by the Assembly Commission which will change the name of the institution from National Assembly for Wales to the Senedd, which may be known as the Welsh Parliament. An appointed Council for Wales and Monmouthshire was established in 1949 to "ensure the government is adequately informed of the impact of government activities on the general life of the people of Wales"; the council had 27 members nominated by local authorities in Wales, the University of Wales, National Eisteddfod Council and the Welsh Tourist Board. A post of Minister of Welsh Affairs was created in 1951 and the post of Secretary of State for Wales and the Welsh Office were established in 1964 leading to the abolition of the Council for Wales; the establishment of the Welsh Office created the basis for the territorial governance of Wales. The Royal Commission on the Constitution was set up in 1969 by Harold Wilson's Labour Government to investigate the possibility of devolution for Scotland and Wales.
Its recommendations formed the basis of the 1974 White Paper Democracy and Devolution: proposals for Scotland and Wales, which proposed the creation of a Welsh Assembly. However, Welsh voters rejected the proposals by a majority of four to one in a referendum held in 1979. After the 1997 general election, the new Labour Government argued that an Assembly would be more democratically accountable than the Welsh Office. For eleven years prior to 1997 Wales had been represented in the Cabinet of the United Kingdom by a Secretary of State who did not represent a Welsh constituency at Westminster. A second referendum was held in Wales on 18 September 1997 in which voters approved the creation of the National Assembly for Wales with a total of 559,419 votes, or 50.3% of the vote. The following year the Government of Wales Act was passed by the United Kingdom parliament, establishing the Assembly. In July 2002, the Welsh Government established an independent commission, with Lord Richard as chair, to review the powers and electoral arrangements of the National Assembly to ensure that it is able to operate in the best interests of the people of Wales.
The Richard Commission reported in March 2004. It recommended that the National Assembly should have powers to legislate in certain areas, whilst others would remain the preserve of Westminster, it recommended changing the electoral system to the single transferable vote which would produce greater proportionality. In response, the British government, in its Better Governance for Wales White Paper, published on 15 June 2005, proposed a more permissive law-making system for the Welsh Assembly based on the use of Parliamentary Orders in Council. In so doing, the Government rejected many of the cross party Richard Commission's recommendations; this has attracted criticism from opposition others. The Government of Wales Act 2006 received Royal Assent on 25 July 2006, it conferred on the Assembly legislative powers similar to other devolved legislatures through the ability to pass Assembly Measures concerning matters that are devolved. Requests for further legislative powers made through legislative competence requests were subject to the veto of the Secretary of State for Wales, House of Commons or House of Lords.
The Act reformed the assembly to a parliamentary-type structure, establishing the Welsh Government as an entity separate from, but accountable to the National Assembly. It enables the Assembly to legislate within its devolved fields; the Act reforms the Assembly's electoral system. It prevents individuals from standing as candidates in regional seats; this aspect of the act was subject to a great deal of criticism, most notably from the Electoral Commission. The Act was criticised. Plaid Cymru, the Official Opposition in the National Assembly from 1999–2007, attacked it for not delivering a fully-fledged parliament. Many commentators have criticised the Labour Party's partisan attempt to alter the electoral system. By preventing regional Assembly Members from standing in constituency seats the party has been accused of changing the rules to protect constituency representatives. Labour had 29 members in the Assembly at the time; the changes to the Assembly's powers were commenced on 4 May 2007, after the election.
Following a referendum on 3 March 2011, the Welsh Assembly gained direct law making powers, without the need to consult Westminster. The Conservative-Liberal coalition government created the Commission on Devolution in Wales