Senedd Cymru and Welsh Parliament names become law
As a result of legislation passed earlier this year, today (Wednesday 6 May 2020), the National Assembly for Wales officially becomes Senedd Cymru and Welsh Parliament, commonly known as the Senedd.
The new name reflects the institution’s full status as a national parliament, with law-making powers and the ability to vary taxes.
The new name, and the date for when it comes in to use, is written in law in the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Act. The date is exactly one year from the scheduled date of the 2021 Senedd Elections.
The 60 Members elected to represent the people of Wales are now known as Member of the Senedd (MS), and Aelod o’r Senedd (AS) in Welsh.
However, while Wales’ parliament adopts its new names today, COVID-19 remains the absolute priority for the Senedd and its Members as the parliament continues its work in supporting and scrutinising the official response to the pandemic.
In a written statement, Senedd Llywydd, Elin Jones MS says:
“Responding to the Coronavirus crisis remains the priority of the Senedd and its Members. Now, more than ever, our citizens expect a strong national parliament working for Wales: Members asking questions of the Government, scrutinising emergency powers and laws, and representing their communities to the best of their ability in the Senedd.
“The role of our parliament is of far more significance than its name. But it is right that the name reflects the range of powers and responsibilities this parliament holds on behalf of the people of Wales. The Senedd today is a very different institution to the one established as the Assembly in 1999. Now with full law-making powers and the ability to vary taxes, the new name reflects the Senedd's constitutional status as a national parliament.”
Votes for 16 year olds and other changes at the Senedd
Other changes introduced in the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Act mean that 16 and 17 years old have been given the right to vote in the Senedd Elections. Eligible foreign nationals will also able to vote which, together, implements the largest franchise extension in Wales since 1969. Registration for these newly enfranchised groups open on 1 June 2020.
The main changes introduced in the Senedd and Election (Wales) Act are:
- The new official name of Senedd Cymru and Welsh Parliament.
- Lower the voting age to 16 at Senedd Elections
- Giving the vote to eligible foreign nationals at Senedd Elections
- Change the law so that most disqualifications prohibit a person from taking up a seat in the Senedd but not from standing for election, thereby allowing more people to stand for election.
- To make the Electoral Commission funded by and accountable to the Senedd for Welsh elections.
The Senedd and Elections (Wales) Bill received Royal Assent and became law in January 2020. It is the first part of a Senedd Reform programme and is based on the recommendations made in the independent report of an Expert Panel on Reform.