History (Wales)

The National Assembly for Wales (the Welsh Assembly) has the authority to pass secondary legislation affecting Wales as well as executive powers over the implementation of UK laws in Wales. It is not a parliament in the strictest sense of the word, as it cannot pass primary legislation or raise taxes, but it does debate the issues of the day inasmuch as they extend to Wales.

The transfer of powers from London to Cardiff took place on 1 July 1999 when the order giving the Assembly its authority - the National Assembly for Wales (Transfer of Functions) Order 1999 - came into force.

The transfer order was made under the Government of Wales Act 1998. Labour had made a commitment in its 1997 manifesto to hold a referendum on Welsh devolution and then to legislate. After the May 1997 landslide a White Paper was published in July. The result of the referendum on the proposals it outlined, held in September, was 50.4 per cent for and 50.3 per cent against (a difference of just under 7,000 votes) on a turnout of 50.1 per cent of the electorate. Royal Assent was granted to the Act on 31 July 1998.

Wales had been governed as part of, and under the law of, England since its conquest by Edward I in 1282 - a position formalised by Henry VIII's 1536 Act of Union. Wales remained an administrative adjunct to England until the establishment of the Welsh Office in 1965, which was subsumed into the Department for Constitutional Affairs in 2003.