Transition to the Fifth Assembly: Early Business
The Fifth Assembly election was held on 5 May 2016. What happens next?
Analysis of the new make-up of the Senedd will be available following the results. For the latest updates about what's happening, follow @seneddwales on Twitter or visit www.senedd.wales/election.
The Return of Electoral Certificates
Following the Returning Officer's declaration of the election result in the constituency, he/she is required by law to send an electoral certificate to the Chief Executive and Clerk of the Senedd informing her of the result. This certificate is the signal for Senedd staff to prepare for the newly elected Member's oath taking or affirmation ceremony. Members cannot take the oath until the certificate has been received.
Both the Government of Wales Act 2006 and the Senedd's Standing Orders, the rules about how it should conduct its business, state that Members must take the oath of allegiance or corresponding affirmation of allegiance, 'as soon as reasonably practicable' after being returned as a Member of the Senedd.
Until they have taken the oath or made the affirmation, Members cannot perform any Member of the Senedd duties, other than participate in the election of the Presiding Officer or Deputy Presiding Officer.
No salary, allowance, gratuity or payment towards a pension can be paid until the oath or the corresponding affirmation has been made.
What is the oath/affirmation?
The exact wording of the oath and affirmation are set out in the Promisory Oaths Act 1868 and Members of the Senedd can take the oath or make the affirmation through the medium of Welsh or English.
Members of the Senedd can choose whether to swear the oath on their preferred religious text - Y Beibl Cymraeg, the Koran, the Old Testament and the King James Bible are available - or they can make the corresponding secular affirmation during a short ceremony. They are required to recite the words out loud and are asked to sign two copies of either the oath or affirmation certificate.
"Yr wyf i, ... ... ... ..., yn tyngu y byddaf yn ffyddlon ac yn wir deyrngar i'w Mawrhydi y Frenhines Elizabeth, ei hetifeddion a'i holynwyr, yn unol â'r gyfraith. Cynorthwyed Duw fi."
"I………, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God."
"Yr wyf i, ………, yn datgan ac yn cadarnhau yn ddifrifol, yn ddiffuant ac yn ddidwyll, y byddaf yn ffyddlon ac yn wir deyrngar i'w Mawrhydi y Frenhines Elizabeth, ei hetifeddion a'i holynwyr, yn unol â'r gyfraith."
"I……………, do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm, that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law."
Where does the ceremony take place?
The ceremony can take place in public or in private from 8am on 6 May. Public ceremonies usually take place in the Siambr, the Senedd's debating chamber. This year, Members of the Senedd can also choose to take the oath or affirmation at the Senedd's north Wales office in Colwyn Bay and Trinity St David's University Lampeter.
What happens next?
After they take the oath or affirmation, Members are able to establish their offices in Cardiff Bay and start to put arrangements in place to establish a presence in their constituencies. They will also have an opportunity to meet staff of the Senedd Commission, who support Members in carrying out their duties.
As soon as Members have taken the oath and established their Cardiff office, their contact information will be available on www.assembly.wales/members.
How much are Members of the Senedd paid?
The Senedd Remuneration Board is an independent body which decides how much Members of the Senedd are paid and any allowances they might be entitled to.
Information and rules about what new Members are paid are set out in the Determination for the Fifth Assembly (May 2015) agreed by the previous Senedd Wales Remuneration Board.
For the Fifth Assembly, the Member of the Senedd salary will be £64,000.
Members who hold additional offices receive an additional salary known as an 'office holder salary' to reflect their extra responsibilities. The office holders that receive additional salaries are:
- the Presiding Officer;
- Deputy Presiding Officer;
- First Minister;
- the Welsh Ministers (including Deputy Welsh Ministers);
- the Counsel General;
- the Senedd Commissioners;
- Chairs of Senedd Committees;
- Business Committee members;
- Opposition Party Leader.
Details about Members of the Senedd salaries since 1999 are available on the Senedd's website. The website also contains details about Members of the Senedd's allowances and expenses claims.
For further information about Members of the Senedd's pay, allowances and expenses please see the Remuneration Board.
Plenary is the name for the meeting of all 60 Members of the Senedd that takes place in the Siambr, the Senedd's main debating chamber. Plenary is chaired by the Presiding Officer and provides Members with an opportunity to represent their constituents, hold the Welsh Government to account and make laws for Wales.
For more detailed information, please see The Fifth Assembly: first Plenary meeting
The first item of business for the new Senedd is the election of a Presiding Officer. A newly appointed Presiding Officer and Deputy Presiding Officer must be elected at the Senedd's first meeting after the election and that meeting must take place within seven working days after the election, ie by Monday 16 May.
For more detailed information please see our Guide to early Plenary business after the May 2016 election (pdf, 353KB).
Who is the Presiding Officer?
The Presiding Officer is the highest authority in the Senedd and chairs the meeting of all 60 Members of the Senedd in Plenary, remaining politically impartial at all times.
The Presiding Officer also plays an active role in representing the Senedd and Wales's interests on a national, UK and international stage. They also chair the Senedd Commission, which makes sure that Members of the Senedd have the staff and resources they need to carry out their roles effectively for the people of Wales.
The sitting Presiding Officer, Dame Rosemary Butler, will chair the first meeting of the new Senedd, and the date of the first Plenary will be confirmed following consultation with the new political party groups. A minimum of three Members of the Senedd is needed to form a group in the Senedd. These are usually members of the same political party but can be formed in other ways, for example three or more independent Members forming a group.
Members must have 24 hours' notice in advance of the first Plenary meeting.
Dame Rosemary will also decide the seating plan for the first meeting. Following the first session, the new Presiding Officer may review seating arrangements once the identity of key office holders, such as Welsh Government Ministers, is known.
If the Senedd agree to a single nomination for the office of Presiding Officer, the vote is conducted in public in the Siambr. If more than one Member is nominated, the election takes place through a secret ballot outside the Siambr in the Cwrt area of the Senedd.
Other items of business, for example the election of a First Minister, can be allowed at the first meeting under Standing Order 12.10.
For more detailed information, please see The Fifth Assembly: Electing the Presiding Officer.
The First Minister of Wales is the leader of the Welsh Government and is appointed by Her Majesty the Queen following nomination by Members of the Senedd.
A First Minister must be nominated by the Senedd within 28 days, so by the end of 1 June 2016. The First Minister is nominated by the Senedd and the nomination is submitted by the Presiding Officer for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth's approval. She is responsible for appointing the First Minister. If a First Minister isn't nominated within 28 days of the election, another Welsh general election must be held.
The procedure for nominating the First Minister is set out in Standing Order 8.
The Presiding Officer, following consultation with the political parties, will notify Members of the date and time of the next Plenary meeting, where another vote by roll call can take place.
The full process for nominating the First Minister is outlined below:
If a roll call is required, the Presiding Officer will ask each Member present (in alphabetical order) to state the name of their preferred candidate. Members will also be given the option to abstain. The Presiding Officer and Deputy Presiding Officer are not permitted to vote.
If two Members have been nominated and the roll call results in a tie (or if there are two remaining candidates after others are eliminated), further votes by roll call will take place. The Presiding Officer may adjourn the meeting at any time if he or she thinks it appropriate to do so.
If more than two Members have been nominated and no Member receives more than half of the votes cast, the candidate with the lowest number of votes will be eliminated. Further votes by roll call will take place until one candidate has received more than half of the votes cast.
The Presiding Officer will immediately recommend to Her Majesty that the Member nominated by the Senedd be appointed as First Minister. This will be done by sending an e-mail to the Palace on the Presiding Officer’s behalf.
The nominee for the appointment of First Minister may wish to make a speech immediately after his or her nomination.
When and how are Welsh Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers appointed?
Ministerial nominations are decided by the First Minister and the nominations are approved by Her Majesty. Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers take the official oath and must notify the Clerk of the Senedd once this has happened.
The Welsh Government consists of:
- The First Minister
- Cabinet Secretaries
- Welsh Ministers and
- The Counsel General
They are supported by civil servants who work in offices across Wales.
The First Minister of Wales is the head of the Welsh Government.
The Cabinet is the main decision-making body of the Welsh Government.
Further information about the Welsh Government is available here www.gov.wales
The role, job titles and responsibilities of Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers are decided by the First Minister.
Ministers are appointed to exercise functions on behalf of Cabinet Secretaries in particular areas of work. The First Minister can appoint up to and no more than 12 Cabinet Secretaries/Ministers to form a cabinet, not including the Counsel General or the First Minister him/herself.
The Counsel General is the Law Officer for the Welsh Government and can be but does not have to be a Member of the Senedd. The Counsel General is appointed by Her Majesty on the recommendation of the First Minister.
The Welsh Government is responsible for proposing and implementing policy and laws in 21 subject areas devolved to Wales with the aim of improving the lives of everyone in Wales.
The role of the Welsh Government is to:
- make decisions on matters regarding the 21 subject devolved to Wales for Wales;
- develop policies and implement them;
- develop Welsh Laws.
Second Plenary meeting
The next Plenary is arranged by the Presiding Officer following consultation with the political groups. The PO must notify Members of the date and time of the next meeting and give 24 hours' notice.
The Senedd's standing orders, the rules about how it should conduct its business, say that the Welsh Minister with responsibility for arranging government business must table a motion - a proposal - for the Senedd to agree the membership of the Business Committee. The Business Committee is made up of one Member from each political group and the Presiding Officer, the Chair of the Business Committee. The Business Committee will decide what committees should be established, and make proposals to the Senedd for agreement.
What does the Business Committee do?
The Business Committee is responsible for deciding how the Senedd's work in the Senedd is arranged and prioritised. That includes agreeing the number, size and responsibilities of committees and the order and prioritisation of business in the Siambr. They also propose any changes to the Senedd's Standing Orders, the rules which set out how the Senedd conducts its business in plenary and committee.
The Senedd is required to by law to appoint Senedd Commissioners who are responsible for providing the Senedd with the staff and resources they need to carry out their roles effectively for the people of Wales. The Commission is made up of five Members – the Presiding Officer who chairs the meetings, and four Members one each from the largest political groups.
The Senedd’s Standing Orders, the rules about how it should conduct its business, say that Commissioners must be appointed within 10 days of the appointment of the Business Committee. Until this happens the existing Commissioners remain in post, so that the Commission always has members and is able to take decisions. If there are two or more political groups with the same number of Members, the Presiding Officer is responsible for deciding which of those political groups should be represented on the Commission e.g. by considering which group received the highest level of electoral support at the election.
Appointment of Commissioners
The Senedd’s Standing Orders, the rules about how it should conduct its business, says that Commissioners must be appointed within 10 days of the appointment of the Business Committee. If there are two or more political groups with the same number of Members, the Presiding Officer is responsible for deciding which of those political groups should be represented on the Commission, eg by considering which group received the highest level of electoral support at the election.
For more detailed information please see our Guide to early Plenary business after the May 2016 election (pdf, 353KB) or The Fifth Assembly: Appointing the Assembly Commission.