Press release

Landmark day in devolution as powers pass to Welsh Assembly

Today marks an important milestone in implementing the Wales Act 2017 with new powers coming into force.

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Today marks an important milestone in implementing the Wales Act 2017 with powers coming into force that pave the way for the introduction of Welsh Rates of Income Tax, enable the Welsh Government to invest more in infrastructure and allow the National Assembly to decide what to call itself.

These important powers put more decisions into the hands of the Assembly and the Welsh Government and give them important new levers to grow the Welsh economy and to deliver better public services across Wales.

The provisions which come into force today:

  • Remove the requirement for a referendum before the Welsh Rates of Income Tax are introduced
  • Increase the amount that Welsh Ministers can borrow to fund capital expenditure from £500m to £1bn
  • Reaffirm the Assembly and Welsh Government as a permanent part of the UK’s constitutional arrangements
  • Enshrine the convention that Parliament will not normally legislate on devolved matters without the consent of the Assembly
  • Allow the Welsh Government and UK Government to agree a protocol for managing water resources that flow between the two nations

The changes also mark the end of the Secretary of State for Wales’ annual address to the Senedd on the Queen’s Speech and his entitlement to take part in Assembly proceedings.

Alun Cairns, Secretary of State for Wales, said:

Today marks the transfer of important new powers to the Assembly. These are powers which affect the lives of everyone living in Wales and are a major step towards the clearer, stronger and fairer devolution settlement that we are putting in place.

The Assembly and Welsh Government are, for the first time, formally recognised as permanent parts of the UK’s constitutional fabric. There is no longer a need for a referendum before the Welsh Rates of Income Tax come on stream and Welsh Ministers will be able to borrow up to £1bn to invest in renewing Wales’s infrastructure.

Devolution has developed significantly since 2010 and these powers mark the maturing of the Assembly into a fully fledged Parliament. From today, the Assembly can decide on a new title if that’s what Assembly Members want. I and my successors will no longer be entitled to a seat in the Assembly nor will we be required to give an annual address to the Assembly on the Queen’s Speech.

Together, these changes reflect the coming of age of the devolved institutions in Wales and mark the beginning of the transition to the new settlement that the Wales Act will put in place. I look forward to these powers being used to deliver for the people of Wales.

The measures come into force automatically two months after Royal Assent. The Wales Act 2017 gained Royal Assent on 31 January 2017.

Published 31 March 2017