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​The Wales Act 2017

The Senedd in Cardiff Bay

Establishment and remit

The UK Government established the Commission on Devolution in Wales (the Silk Commission) in 2011 to review the Welsh devolution settlement. The Silk Commission’s remit was separated into two strands:

1.Part 1: Wales’ financial powers.

2.Part 2: Wales’ legislative powers.


Part 1: Wales' financial powers

The Silk Commission published Part 1 of its report on financial powers on 19 November 2012. This work led to the passing of the Wales Act 2014.


Part 2: Wales' legislative powers

The Silk Commission published Part 2 of its report on 3 March 2014, making recommendations in relation to the National Assembly for Wales' legislative powers.

In February 2015, the UK Government published a command paper on the future of devolution in Wales, Powers for a Purpose. This led to the introduction of the Wales Bill 2015. The Bill received Royal Assent on 31 January 2017 and became the Wales Act 2017. Key provisions in the 2017 Act include:

  • Changing the model of devolved legislative competence from a Conferred Powers Model to a Reserved Powers Model.
  • Giving the Welsh Ministers new executive powers, for example in areas such as onshore petroleum licensing, speed limits, pedestrian crossings and traffic signs.
  • Creating the concept of Welsh tribunals and a President of Welsh tribunals.

Other provisions in the Act include:

    • A requirement for a super-majority vote in the Assembly for legislation which touches on protected subject matters, such as the size of the Assembly or how Members are elected
    • A provision to recognise the permanence of the Assembly and Welsh Government
    • A provision to recognise the Sewel convention which specifies that the UK Parliament will not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters without the consent of the Assembly
    • A requirement for justice impact assessments on Assembly Bills
    • The removal of the requirement for a referendum on the devolution of income tax

    Provisions of the Act have come into effect in stages; some came into effect on Royal Assent, some at the end of March 2017 (two months after Royal Assent) and others on 1 April 2018 (the 'Principal Appointed Day')

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