Executive (Wales)

The Assembly Government (sometimes referred to as the Welsh Executive or the Cabinet) is formed by the party or parties with the majority of seats in the Assembly. The First Minister (sometimes referred to as the First Secretary) is elected by Assembly Members (AMs) and, as such, is normally the leader of the largest party.

Because the electoral system used for AMs makes an overall majority for one party unlikely, the First Minister is normally elected by a coalition of parties that have agreed to form the Assembly Government. This coalition would normally include the largest party. Indeed, in 1999 the Assembly Government was formed by Labour and the Liberal Democrats with a Labour First Minister. In 2003, Labour, which had a majority of one, ruled alone.

The Assembly Government is made up of the First Minister and eight Welsh Ministers (sometimes called Assembly Secretaries). Each is responsible for a particular area of policy. The First Minister chooses which AMs become Ministers from the ruling party or parties.

Legally, the Assembly Government is formed as a committee of the Assembly that may sit in public or private. The devolved powers were transferred to the Assembly as a whole. It then delegated those powers to the Assembly Government 'committee'.

The Assembly Government has responsibility for secondary legislation and the implementation of UK-wide statute in the following policy areas inasmuch as they extend to Wales or are wholly within Wales:

Agriculture, forestry, fisheries and food
Ancient monuments, museums, galleries and libraries
Economic development
Education and training
Environment
Health and health services
Highways
Housing
Industry
Local government
Social services
Sport and recreation
Tourism
Town and country planning
Transport
Water and flood defence
Welsh language

Primary legislation is required for the transfer of additional functions to the Assembly and for the implementation of some Wales-only policies, as in the case of the Health (Wales) Act 2003. Cross-border issues are resolved at UK-level with regard to the Assembly Government.

The work of the Assembly Government is funded by the grants formerly provided to the Secretary of State for Wales.

The 'Barnett formula' is used to share out increases in UK public expenditure between the constituent parts of the UK (not Northern Ireland). This complex formula was first used in the late 1970s by then Chief Secretary to the Treasury Joel (now Lord) Barnett. Put simply, certain increases in UK-wide expenditure are divided up according to population, which means that historic additional per capita spending in Wales tends to be preserved.

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