National Assembly for Wales election 2016: information for candidates
The information on this page is intended to give candidates at the 2016 National Assembly for Wales election background information on standing for election, and an outline of the support and guidance that will be available to them if elected.
Entitlement to be a member of the National Assembly for Wales
To become a member of the National Assembly for Wales you must be not only be qualified to do so, by meeting certain age and citizenship requirements, but also not prevented from doing so by being disqualified.
The full range of disqualifications is complex and includes, for example, holders of certain offices, some (though not all) people who have been declared bankrupt, and those convicted of certain offences or receiving certain prison sentences.
Key legislation relating to disqualification includes the Government of Wales Act 2006 (as amended); and the National Assembly for Wales (Disqualification) Order 2015.
The above legislation is not exhaustive and the information provided here is for guidance only. It is each candidate's responsibility to ensure that they are not disqualified from becoming an Assembly Member.
The Electoral Commission is producing a suite of guidance for candidates and agents. Part 1 of the guidance pack includes further information on qualification and disqualification. However, if you are in any doubt you should consult all relevant legislation and / or take independent legal advice.
The Assembly Member experience
Since the creation of the National Assembly for Wales in 1999, the constitutional make-up of the Welsh law making body has changed dramatically and continues to develop.
During the Fifth Assembly, the Assembly will get the power to legislate to raise devolved taxes and the draft Wales Bill, if passed, will fundamentally change the devolution settlement.
Members of the Fifth Assembly will have an important and unique role in representing the people of Wales and holding the Welsh Government to account, at a time when democracy in Wales is evolving around them.
The role of Assembly Members
Assembly Members represent the interests of Wales and its people, make laws for Wales and hold the Welsh Government to account.
Members represent interests of the individuals living within the constituency or region they have been elected to represent. They have regular contact with the public through meetings, telephone calls, correspondence or surgeries.
When the Assembly is in session, Assembly Members meet in the Senedd in Cardiff Bay to discuss issues of importance to Wales and its people. They meet together in Plenary twice a week, where Members ask questions of Welsh Government Ministers, debate issues such as Government policies and committee reports and discuss proposed laws. Opposition parties can have debates on issues of their choice, and debates are allocated according to the relative size of the parties in the Assembly.
Assembly Members also meet in committees, which have been set up by the Assembly for specific tasks. These include examining laws, scrutinising policy and running the Assembly's business.
Through committees, the Assembly is able to carry out more detailed scrutiny and Members are able to specialise in particular subjects.
Oath or affirmation of allegiance
Assembly Members are required to take an oath of allegiance or make a corresponding affirmation soon after their election. The work that they can do as an Assembly Member is restricted until the oath has been taken or the affirmation made.
Support for Members
Constituency and regional Members receive the same support. More information about the roles and responsibilities of constituency and regional Members is detailed in Standing Orders, which are the rules governing the procedures of the Assembly.
The Assembly Commission is the corporate body responsible for ensuring that property, staff and services are provided to the Assembly. The Commission consists of the Presiding Officer and four Members from different political parties.
Staff of the Commission provide various types of support, including non-partisan advice, guidance and practical support to Members.
Commission services include:
Support for Assembly Business, including Plenary and Committees;
A Research Service which provides briefings and analysis;
Communications, including Outreach and Education teams;
Translation and Interpretation;
Member services such as continuous professional development; financial support and guidance to Members as employers.
Salaries and allowances
The Remuneration Board of the National Assembly for Wales is the statutory body responsible for setting the pay, pensions and allowances of Assembly Members and their staff. The Board is independent of the National Assembly and its Assembly Members.
Assembly Member Support Staff
Members can employ staff to help with their duties as an Assembly Member in line with the Remuneration Board's Determination for the Fifth Assembly.
Advice and support on recruiting staff is available to Assembly Members via the staff of the Assembly Commission.
The Assembly's estate consists of three buildings in Cardiff Bay (the Senedd, Tŷ Hywel and the Pierhead), and an office in Colwyn Bay.
Members will be provided with office accommodation in Tŷ Hywel, the building adjacent to the Senedd. They will also receive a provision for constituency/regional office costs. Members generally choose offices that that are readily accessible to their constituents and have ease of access for staff and constituents.
Security is a priority of the Assembly. Members and their staff will be issued with a security pass following the oath or affermation, and these should be displayed at all times when on the Assembly estate. The Assembly has a designated Police Unit based in Tŷ Hywel, which, in conjunction with the Security Team, is tasked with protecting the Assembly estate and ensuring that business is not interrupted.
Welsh and English are the official languages of the Assembly, and the Assembly aims to be a truly bilingual institution. The Official Languages Scheme sets out what the Assembly currently delivers bilingually, as well as setting out the services it aims to deliver. The Scheme was formally adopted by the Assembly in July 2013 and is based on the National Assembly for Wales (Official Languages) Act 2012.
The Assembly Commission is committed to promoting equality of opportunity both as an employer and service provider. The Assembly's Equality Plan 2012-16 details how the Assembly Commission will promote equality, value diversity and identify and remove potential barriers to equality for our staff, Assembly Members, their staff and members of the public. A new Equality Plan will be developed for the Fifth Assembly.
Assembly Members, as service providers and employers, are subject to duties under the Equality Act 2010. Advice for Members carrying out those duties can be found in factsheets available to Members or provided by the Commission's Equalities Team.
Other services and further information
The Assembly Commission will signpost Assembly Members to other services and facilities such as support for disabled Members, childcare, medical treatment for those staying away from their main home, catering, mail services and staff support networks.
Further information and support will be provided to Members on all aspects of their role as an Assembly Member once they have taken the oath or made the affirmation.
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