This is the first of a series of posts trying to de-mystify politics for everyday people.
Wales is one of the countries that makes up the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, it is bordered to the east by England, the south by the Bristol Chanel and north and west by the Irish Sea. It has a population of just over three million people, English is the main language, although Welsh is commonly used (if not spoken), the currency is pound sterling and the capital city is Cardiff.
When it comes to the governance of Wales there are 5 levels of government (four after brexit finally transpires and Britain leaves the European Union) and they are:
- Community: The over 800 Town, Parish and Community Councils throughout Wales.
- Local: Unitary authorities comprising of County, City and Borough Councils (Of which there are 22) [another blog about this will be forthcoming].
- Regional: The National Assembly for Wales is the directly elected parliament for Wales with 60 directly elected assembly members with responsibility for, healthcare, education, transport, business, tourism and agriculture and various devolved monetary policies.
- National: The UK government in Westminster which influences Wales by controlling aspects of foreign policy, defence policy and some aspects of tax policy. [another blog about this will be forthcoming]
- European: Governs 28 nations including the UK, with directly elected members of the European Parliament, European Commissioners and Councillors appointed by each of the member states. Handles regulatory matters and Human Rights. [find more here]
Wales finally got its own government as a result of a referendum held in 1997. 60 Assembly members were elected to the first term of the National Assembly For Wales in 1999, 40 members elected from first past the post style constituency elections and 20 members elected from five proportionally represented regions.
As of 2011 the Welsh Government is responsible for making policy and laws for the following areas:
- Agriculture, fisheries, forestry and rural development
- Ancient monuments and historical buildings
- Economic development
- Education and training
- Fire and rescue services and promotion of fire safety
- Health and health services
- Highways and transport
- Local government
- National Assembly for Wales
- Public administration
- Social welfare
- Sport and recreation
- Town and country planning
- Water and flood defences
- Welsh language
The way laws are made in the Welsh Assembly is as follows:
Hopefully that helps to shed a little light on how the governance of Wales works (or works in theory).