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Wales Act 2017

Overview of the Act

  1. The Wales Act 2017 implements those elements of the St David’s Day agreement which required legislative changes. It is aimed at creating a clearer and stronger settlement in Wales which is durable and long-lasting.
  2. The Act is an enabling Act and the majority of the provisions in the Act set out the powers that are transferred to the National Assembly for Wales (the Assembly) and/or the Welsh Ministers.
  3. In particular, the Wales Act amends the Government of Wales Act 2006 (GoWA) by moving to a reserved powers model for Wales. This is the model that underpins the devolution settlement in Scotland. The reserved powers model set out in the Act provides a clearer separation of powers between what is devolved and what is reserved, enabling the Assembly to legislate on any subject except those specifically reserved to the UK Parliament.
  4. The Act includes a declaration that the Assembly and the Welsh Ministers and the laws that they make, are considered a permanent part of the UK's constitutional arrangements and will not be abolished without a decision of the people of Wales. It is also declared that the UK Parliament will not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters without the consent of the Assembly, whilst retaining the sovereignty to do so.
  5. The Act also devolves further powers to the Assembly and the Welsh Ministers in areas where there was political consensus in support of further devolution. These include:
    1. Devolving greater responsibility to the Assembly to run its own affairs, including deciding its name;
    2. Devolving responsibility to the Assembly for ports policy, speed limits, bus registration, taxi regulation, local government elections, sewerage and energy consenting up to 350MW (see below for additional detail);
    3. Devolving responsibility to Welsh Ministers for marine licensing and conservation and energy consents in the Welsh offshore region; and extending responsibility for building regulations to include excepted energy buildings;
    4. Devolving power over Assembly elections; and
    5. Devolving powers over the licensing of onshore oil and gas extraction
    6. Aligning the devolution boundary for water and sewerage services along the border between England and Wales
    7. Establishing in statute the President of Welsh Tribunals to oversee devolved tribunals and allowing cross-deployment of judicial office holders.

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