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
Office of the Secretary of State for Wales
The Office of the Secretary of State for Wales, informally known as the Wales Office, is a United Kingdom government department. It replaced the former Welsh Office, which had extensive responsibility for governing Wales prior to Welsh devolution in 1999. In the past it has been called "Wales' voice in Westminster and Westminster's voice in Wales". However, it is less powerful since the Government of Wales Act 2006: it is responsible for carrying out the few functions remaining with the Secretary of State for Wales that have not been transferred to the National Assembly for Wales; the Secretary of State for Wales has overall responsibility for the office but it is located administratively within the Ministry of Justice. The ministers in the Office of the Secretary of State for Wales are as follows: Unlike Scotland and Northern Ireland, Wales does not have its own Law Officers of the Crown; the Attorney General for England and Wales therefore advises the United Kingdom Government on its law. His deputy is the Solicitor General for Wales.
Following the'yes' vote in the 2011 referendum on giving the Assembly direct law-making powers, some politicians in Wales from Plaid Cymru, have called for the abolition of the Wales Office. Lord Elis-Thomas, Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales said: I think it would be useful to before we start the next Assembly; the relationship would be inter-governmental and inter-parliamentary. In other words it would be between the National Assembly and the Parliament at Westminster, where there are issues on laws which are made in Westminster which impinge on Wales and vice versa. However, Lord Elis-Thomas was accused of following a "separatist agenda" by the Conservative Cheryl Gillan Secretary of State for Wales, she was supported by her Labour predecessor Peter Hain, who declared that Wales "still needs a voice around the Cabinet in Westminster". Official website
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
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
First Minister of Wales
The First Minister of Wales is the leader of the Welsh Government, Wales' devolved administration. The First Minister is responsible for the exercise of functions by the Cabinet of the Welsh Government; the official office of the First Minister is in Tŷ Hywel known as Crickhowell House, the Senedd in Cardiff Bay. An office is kept at the Crown Buildings, Cathays Park, Cardiff; when set up under the Government of Wales Act 1998, Section 53, the post was known as Assembly First Secretary, as Wales was given a less powerful assembly and executive than either Northern Ireland or Scotland. The choice of title was attributed to the fact that the Welsh term for First Minister, Prif Weinidog, may be translated as Prime Minister, so a different title was chosen to avoid confusion with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; the change of title occurred after the Liberal Democrats formed a coalition government with Labour in the Welsh Assembly in October 2000. The Government of Wales Act 2006 allowed for the post to be known as the First Minister and made the First Minister Keeper of the Welsh Seal.
Candidates for the position of First Minister are nominated by the members of the National Assembly for Wales. The members elect the nominee for the First Minister by majority vote. If no one is elected by a majority of votes cast with the first set of nominations, the process continues until a majority decide to cast their vote for one candidate; this process does not require an absolute majority of the National Assembly Once this process has occurred the Presiding Officer shall formally send a letter to the Current Monarch who must appoint that nominee to the position of First Minister. Under the arrangements in the Government of Wales Act 1998, executive functions are conferred on the National Assembly for Wales and separately delegated to the First Minister and to other Cabinet Ministers and staff as appropriate; until the Government of Wales Act 2006, these were delegated powers of the UK government. Since that Act came into force in May 2007, the First Minister is appointed by the monarch and represents the Crown in Wales.
Whilst this has little practical difference, it was a huge symbolic shift as for the first time the head of government in Wales is appointed by the Crown on the advice of the elected representatives of the Welsh people. The First Minister appoints the Welsh Ministers, Deputy Welsh Ministers and the Counsel General for Wales, with the approval of Her Majesty. Following separation between the legislative and the executive on the enactment of the Government of Wales Act 2006, the Welsh Ministers exercise functions in their own right. Any further transfers of executive functions from the UK Government will be made directly to the Welsh Ministers by an Order in Council approved by Parliament; the First Minister is accountable and responsible for: Exercise of functions by the Cabinet of the Welsh Government. Policy development and coordination of policy; the relationships with the rest of the United Kingdom and Wales Abroad. Staffing/Civil Service List of current heads of government in the United Kingdom and dependencies Deputy First Minister for Wales Welsh Government Dates are from World Statesmen and various BBC News Online articles from 1999 to 2003.
Roles and Responsibilities. Welsh Government: Cabinet and ministers
Counsel General for Wales
The Counsel General for Wales is the Welsh Government's Law Officer, which means the Government's chief legal adviser and representative in the courts. In addition to these "lawyer" roles the Counsel General works to uphold the rule of law and integrity of the legal community in Wales, has a number of important specific statutory functions, some of which are to be exercised independently of government and in the public interest; the Counsel General is appointed by the sovereign on the recommendation of the First Minister of Wales. The recommendation of the First Minister to appoint or remove the Counsel General can only be made if approved by the National Assembly for Wales; the Counsel General is a member of the Welsh Government and attends Cabinet meetings at the invitation of the First Minister. Although not a Minister, the Counsel General is bound by the Ministerial Code which makes some specific provision in relation to the role; the Counsel General's statutory responsibilities are found in the Government of Wales Act 2006 Like the Welsh Ministers and the First Minister, the Counsel General may make representations about any matter affecting Wales.
The Counsel General may bring, defend or appear in legal proceedings, in the name of the Counsel General, if he considers it appropriate to do so to promote or protect the public interest. This is a function; the Counsel General may refer a provision of an Assembly Bill to the Supreme Court for a ruling on whether it is within the Assembly's legislative competence, may respond where any such reference is made by another Law Officer. This is another function; the Counsel General can require devolution issues to be referred to the Supreme Court for a decision. Like the Welsh Ministers, the First Minister and Assembly Members, the Counsel General can introduce a Bill into the Assembly; the Counsel General is accountable to the Assembly for the exercise of his independent statutory functions. He answers questions in the Assembly once every four weeks. Providing legal advice to the Welsh Government in and representing it in legal proceedings; the Counsel General may play a role in the development of Welsh Government policy on legal matters.
For example, he led with the First Minister in consulting for the public on a separate Welsh legal jurisdiction and preparing the Welsh Government's submissions to the Silk Commission on this issue. From 1998 to October 2003, Winston Roddick CB QC fulfilled the role of chief legal adviser to the National Assembly for Wales; this was, therefore non-statutory and non-governmental role. Mr Roddick is, however, to be credited with suggesting the title "Counsel General", as "Counsel General" in that form he had responsibility for advising the National Assembly on all legal matters. From the coming into force of the 2006 Act a Welsh Assembly Government was created to provide a conventional parliamentary division between legislature and executive, the statutory and governmental position of Counsel General was created
Cwmbran is a new town in Wales. Lying within the historic boundaries of Monmouthshire, it forms part of the county borough of Torfaen. Cwmbran was designated as a new town in 1949 to provide new employment opportunities in the south eastern portion of the South Wales Coalfield. Cwmbran means Crow Valley. Cwmbran is twinned with Bruchsal in Carbonne in France. Comprising the villages of Old Cwmbran, Upper Cwmbran, Croesyceiliog and Llanyrafon, its population had grown to 48,535 by 2011; this makes it the sixth largest urban area in Wales. Cwmbran is a new town, designated in 1949 to provide new employment opportunities in the south eastern portion of the South Wales Coalfield. There is evidence that Neolithic and Bronze Age people used the area, with the Iron Age Silures tribe occupying the region before being subdued by the Roman legions based at nearby Usk and Caerleon. Around 1179, Lord of Caerleon gave a gift of money and land to found the Cistercian abbey at Llantarnam. At the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII the abbey was closed and was bought by a succession of wealthy landowners.
By the 18th century the abbey had passed into the ownership of the Blewitt family, who were to become key figures in the early industrialisation of Cwmbran. Brick making, lime kilns, iron ore mining and coal mining were established during this period, along with a canal to transport goods to the docks at Newport. In 1833 the Ordnance Survey map of Monmouthshire shows Cwmbran as a farm situated in the area now known as Upper Cwmbran, in the valley named Cwm Brân. Cwmbran now covers about 3,000 acres and has a population of around 50,000. Following some investigation by local residents Richard Davies and Mike Price, the Ancient Cwmbran & The Cistercian project was created and a £48,000 grant has been provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund to explore some unrecorded sites of interest in the Greenmeadow and Thornhill areas; the Cistercian Way passes through Llantarnam, Old Cwmbran and Thornhill before reaching the ancient chapel of Llanderfel on Mynydd Maen, onwards to Twmbarlwm. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Cwmbran was the site of heavy industrial development.
Coal and iron ore were extracted on Mynydd Maen, moved by inclined planes and tramways into the Eastern Valley for use in factories such as the Patent Nut and Bolt Company, various tin plate works and brickworks. This industry drove the creation of the Monmouthshire Canal, the Newport and Pontypool Railway and the Pontypool and Newport Railway. Little of this industrial heritage remains today, though many of today's light industrial or retail estates were created on the sites. Following the 1946 New Towns Act and county councils were asked to nominate sites for housing. For Wales, the Ministry of Housing and Local Government proposed Church Cwmbran; the Church Village proposal was vetoed by the Ministry of Power as new housing there would have interfered with plans for the expansion of coal mining in the area. The name of the town derives from the Welsh "Cwm Brân", meaning "valley of the river Brân"; this was the name of a village located in the valley, which had grown up around the tinplate works of the Cwmbran Iron Company.
"Brân" means "crow", which could be allusion to the dark waters of the river, or may have been the personal name of someone associated with the area. Sitting as it does at the corner of the South Wales Coalfield, it has a hilly aspect to its western and northern edges, with the surrounding hills climbing to over 1,000 feet; the Afon Llwyd forms the major river valley, although the most significant water course is the remains of the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal. To the east of Cwmbran the land is less hilly, forming part of the Usk valley; the longest established employer in Cwmbran is biscuit maker Burton's Foods, who employ 1000 people to make its Jammie Dodgers and Wagon Wheels biscuits. As of 2005, the Cwmbran plant produces over 400 million Wagon Wheels a year. Safran Seats Great Britain is the current owner of a factory in Cwmbran in 2000, employed 1000 people manufacturing aircraft seats. Constructed from 1959 to 1981, the pedestrianised Centre hosts supermarkets, high street retailers, theatre, bowling alley, creche, trampoline park, police station, magistrates court, youth centre, library, arts centre and office space.
The 170+ shops can be accessed by the bus station located in the Centre, a train station a few minutes walk north-east or with the 3000 free parking spaces located around the Centre's ring road. SME-businesses include the Cwmbran Brewery in Upper Cwmbran, which opened in 1996 as Cottage Spring Brewery; the town has two secondary education schools: Cwmbran High School. There are numerous primary and nursery schools including a Welsh medium primary school, Ysgol Gymraeg Cwmbrân. Cwmbran Stadium was home to international athletics events in the 1980s. British athletics coach Malcolm Arnold used to train some of his athletes at Cwmbran in the 80s and early 90s while he was the Welsh National Coach. Athletes who trained there under Malcolm include former World 110m Hurdle Champion and World Record Holder, Colin Jackson; the 1999 World Indoor 400m Champion Jamie Baulch used the stadium as a regular training track under