Presiding Officer and administration
Section 25: Presiding Officer etc.
111.This section provides for the election by the Assembly, at its first meeting after each general election, of a Presiding Officer and a Deputy Presiding Officer. Unless the Assembly by a two-thirds majority of those voting resolves otherwise, the Presiding Officer and the Deputy Presiding Officer must not both belong to the same political group nor must they both be members of political groups with an executive role (i.e. groups to which Ministers belong).
112.The Presiding Officer’s functions under this Act include:
|Section 10(4)||Fixing the date of an election in the event of a constituency vacancy.|
|Section 11(2)||Receiving notification of the filling of a regional member vacancy.|
|Section 15||Receiving notification of a member’s resignation.|
|Section 24(5)||Deciding questions arising under the standing orders about the political group (if any) to which a member belongs.|
|Section 27(2)(a)||Membership of the National Assembly for Wales Commission (“the Assembly Commission”).|
|Section 29(10)||Deciding questions arising under provision made in compliance with section 29 regarding the composition of committees.|
|Section 38(5)(a)||Receiving notification of the issue of a direction by a Welsh Minister or the Counsel General to a current or former member of staff of the Welsh Assembly Government (or person with an equivalent status) that the person need not give evidence or produce documents to the Assembly, its committees or sub-committees.|
|Section 40(1)||Administering the oath or affirmation to anyone giving evidence in Assembly proceedings.|
|Section 46(5)||Designating a person to act as First Minister (on the recommendation of the Welsh Ministers) if the First Minister’s office is vacant, the First Minister is unable to act or the First Minister has ceased to be an Assembly Member.|
|Section 47(4)||Recommending to Her Majesty the Assembly’s choice as First Minister.|
|Section 97(3)||Stating whether the provisions of a proposed Assembly measure are, in the view of the Presiding Officer, within the Assembly’s legislative competence.|
|Section 110(3)||Stating whether the provisions of an Assembly Bill are, in the view of the Presiding Officer, within the Assembly’s legislative competence.|
|Schedule 2, Paragraph 1(1)||Membership of the Assembly Commission.|
|Schedule 2, Paragraph 7(a)||Such functions as the Assembly Commission delegates to the Presiding Officer.|
|Schedule 2, Paragraph 11(2)||Presiding at meetings of the Assembly Commission.|
|Schedule 8, Paragraph 8(4)(a)||Certifying to the Assembly that the Auditor General is unable to certify or report on accounts (or statements) in person.|
113.The Presiding Officer holds office until a new Presiding Officer is elected under subsection (1). The effect is that the Presiding Officer does not cease to hold office merely because of the dissolution of the Assembly before a Welsh general election. The Deputy Presiding Officer, on the other hand, holds office only until dissolution of the Assembly. Either may, however, resign, and each would also cease to hold office upon ceasing to be an Assembly member otherwise than by virtue of a dissolution (e.g. by resignation as an Assembly member) or by being removed from office by resolution of the Assembly.
114.The Presiding Officer’s functions may be exercised by the Deputy Presiding Officer if the Presiding Officer’s office is vacant, or if the Presiding Officer is for any reason unable to act and the Presiding Officer may, subject to standing orders, authorise the Deputy Presiding Officer to exercise functions of the Presiding Officer. However, the requirement in paragraph 11 of Schedule 2 that the Presiding Officer presides over meetings of the Assembly Commission may not be delegated. If there is no Presiding Officer in post, or if the Presiding Officer is unable to act, then it is for the Assembly Commission to appoint another of its members to preside over its meetings.
115.Under subsection (12) the Assembly may include in its standing orders provision for another person to exercise the Presiding Officer’s functions in the event that both the Presiding Officer and Deputy Presiding Officer have either vacated their offices or are unable to act, but again this provision does not extend to the function of presiding over Assembly Commission meetings, which is governed by paragraph 11 of Schedule 2 (as set out above). Standing orders are to determine how such a person is to be chosen.
116.Standing orders may regulate the participation in Assembly proceedings of the Presiding Officer and the Deputy Presiding Officer (and anyone exercising the functions of the Presiding Officer by virtue of provision made under subsection (12)).
117.No defect in the appointment of a person as Presiding Officer or Deputy Presiding Officer (or under provision made under subsection (12)), is to affect the validity of any act of that person in that capacity.
Section 26: Clerk of the Assembly
118.This section requires the Assembly Commission to appoint a person to be Clerk of the Assembly. The Commission may authorise any other member of the Assembly staff can act in place of the Clerk if the Clerk’s office is vacant or if the Clerk is for any reason unable to act. The Clerk can also authorise any other member of the staff of the Assembly to exercise functions on behalf of the Clerk.
119.The Clerk’s functions under this Act include:
|Section 31(8)||Responsibility for publishing standing orders.|
|Section 38(1)||Giving notice to persons who are by virtue of Section 37 required to attend the Assembly, its committees or sub-committees or to produce documents.|
|Section 99(3)||Receiving notification from the Counsel General or from the Attorney General that a proposed Measure is not to be referred to the Supreme Court.|
|Section 100(2)(a)||Notifying the Counsel General and the Attorney General that the Assembly has resolved to reconsider a proposed Measure which has been referred to the Supreme Court and in relation to which the Supreme Court has made a reference to the European Court of Justice.|
|Section 101(5)||Receiving notification from the Secretary of State that no order is to be made prohibiting the Clerk from submitting a proposed Measure for approval by Her Majesty in Council.|
|Section 102(1)||Submission of proposed Assembly Measures which have been passed by the Assembly for approval by Her Majesty in Council.|
|Section 102(5)||Recording the date of the approval by Her Majesty in Council of an Assembly Measure on the text of the Measure.|
|Section 102(6)||Publishing the Order in Council by which an Assembly Measure is approved.|
|Section 112(3)||Receiving notification from the Counsel General or from the Attorney General that an Assembly Bill is not to be referred to the Supreme Court.|
|Section 113(2)(a)||Notifying the Counsel General and the Attorney General that the Assembly has resolved to reconsider an Assembly Bill which has been referred to the Supreme Court and in relation to which the Supreme Court has made a reference to the European Court of Justice.|
|Section 114(5)||Receiving notification from the Secretary of State that no order is to be made prohibiting the Clerk from submitting an Assembly Bill for Royal Assent.|
|Section 115(1)||Submitting Assembly Bills for Royal Assent, receiving notification of Royal Assent|
|Section 115(5)||Recording the date of Royal Assent on the text of Acts of the Assembly.|
|Section 115(6)||Notifying the Assembly of the date of Royal Assent to an Act of the Assembly.|
|Section 138||Principal accounting officer for the Assembly Commission.|
|Schedule 2, Paragraph 7(b)||Such functions as the Assembly Commission delegates to the Clerk.|
Section 27: Assembly Commission
120.This section provides for the establishment, membership and functions of the National Assembly for Wales Commission (“the Assembly Commission”) which provides the Assembly (or arranges for the Assembly to be provided) with the staff, property and services required for the Assembly’s purposes, and which, by virtue of section 41(1) represents the Assembly in legal proceedings.
121.The Assembly Commission follows the pattern of arrangements in place at Westminster and in Scotland. The Assembly itself is not a body corporate and the establishment of the Assembly Commission, which is, enables administrative and legal arrangements to be made for employing staff, holding property, purchasing services, and generally entering into contracts for the benefit of the Assembly. It will be required to comply with any directions given by the Assembly.
122.The Commission will consist of the Presiding Officer and four other members, who must all be Assembly members. Standing orders must make provision about the appointment of the four other members and these provisions must, so far as it is reasonably practicable to do so, secure that none of those members belong to the same political group. Detailed arrangements for the Assembly Commission are set out in Schedule 2.
123.The Assembly will have power to pass Assembly Measures under Part 3 of the Act conferring further functions on the Assembly Commission in order to facilitate the exercise of the Assembly’s own functions.
124.Part 5 of the Act deals with how the Assembly Commission is to be financed.