The First Decade List According to Key Subject Areas





Youth & Lifelong Learning

Older People

The Economy

Health and Social Care

Social Justice

Equality and Human Rights





Sport and Culture


The Welsh Language

Welsh Law

Wales and the World

Introduction to the 'What They've Done For Us'  list 



Welsh Law

The First Decade

Welcome to Aled Edwards' "What They've Done For Us" Welsh Law list. Written a little in the style of Monty Python's Life of Brian "What have the Romans done for us?"  the list aims to provide a reliable record of the distinctive Welsh policies brought about by devolution (1999-2009). Beyond underlining the distinctiveness of Welsh policies no substantive attempt is made here to evaluate the performance of Welsh Assembly Governments or to list the policies brought about by other UK legislatures but not adopted in Wales. The dates in brackets normally indicate when the development was announced by the Welsh Assembly Government through a press release.

Third Assembly 2007 - 2009


During the spring of 2009, the Institute of Welsh Affairs published an article by Marie Navarro and and David Lambert Bypassing the Assembly in its Agenda magazine stating that since May 2007 Parliament had agreed three LCOs adding 12 new Matters to the Assembly's remit. 23 Matters were added by Acts of Parliament with an additional 10 Maters being devolved by means of 'Conversion Orders'. Executive powers were also given to Welsh Assembly Government Ministers as opposed to the National Assembly for Wales. During the two years leading up to the spring of 2009, the proportion of executive devolution only, against combined legislative and executive devolution was respectively 21 to 2 and 7 to 2.


It was noted in August 2008 that the first Legislative Competence Order under the 2006 Act took almost ten months to go through the process. It was also noted that there were three Orders in the pipeline relating, significantly in terms of the Assembly's policy emphasis, to environmental protection, vulnerable children and child protection and the third, with affordable housing. Another 20 Orders had been discussed within the Assembly. (Agenda, Summer 2008 IWA).


Marked the first Legislative Competence Order transferring law making powers to Wales receiving Royal approval from the Queen. The new powers will allow the Welsh Assembly Government to bring forward Welsh laws, called Assembly Measures, on Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision. (April 2008).


The first proposed Legislative Competence Order (LCO) to be taken forward under the new Government of Wales Act was tabled by the Welsh Assembly Government on June 11 2007. This provided the first opportunity for the Assembly to consider seeking powers under the new Order in Council process introduced by the 2006 Act. Competence was sought over Special Educational Needs.


The Government of Wales Act 2006 enabled the Assembly Assembly to seek legislative competence from the UK Parliament to make a new category of legislation, which are called Measures of the National Assembly for Wales, or Assembly Measures.  Legislative competence may be sought either through clauses in Parliamentary Bills or through a new Order in Council procedure provided for in the Act. (From 2007).


The Government of Wales Act 2006 created a new post of Counsel General, who is the principal source of legal advice to the Welsh Assembly Government.  (From 2007).

Second Assembly 2003 - 2007

bullet Welcomed the November 2004 Queen’s Speech, which outlined the UK Government’s planned programme of legislation, including two Wales-only Bills – the Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Bill and the Transport (Wales) Bill and 11 Bills in the legislative programme with special Welsh clauses or provisions.
bullet Welcomed the Higher Education Act 2004 which received Royal Assent in July 2004. The Act transferred from the Department for Education and Skills powers over the student support and tuition fee regime in Wales. These put the Assembly on the same statutory basis as the devolved administrations in Scotland and Northern Ireland. (July 2004).
bullet The Health and Social Care Act 2003 helps raise healthcare standards in Wales. The  Act, which received Royal Assent in November 2003, provided Assembly  with a range of powers to take forward the policies which are most suitable for Wales in the areas of NHS Healthcare, Social Services, Dental and medical services, and Welfare Foods. (January 2004).
bullet Welcomed the granting of Royal Assent to the Local Government Bill. The provisions of the Act apply to England and Wales and the Assembly was closely consulted in the drafting of the Bill and during its consideration in Parliament. The Act gives the National Assembly powers in relation to control of borrowing and credit and the use of capital receipts. (September 2003).

First Assembly 1999 - 2003

bullet  Resulted in the panel of counsel chosen from the Wales and Chester Circuit representing the Assembly on public law matters.
bullet Coincided with the establishment of the Administrative Court of Wales, the Chancery Court in Wales, the Welsh Public Law Association and the Welsh Personal Injury Association. (From 1999).
bullet Helped launch Wales’ first quarterly law journal. (From August 1999).
bullet Used its power not only to approve or reject subordinate legislation but also to amend it in draft form. Westminster can only accept or reject draft legislation. (From 1999).
bullet A striking feature of the progress of devolution since 1999 has been the increasing use of legal instruments passed by the National Assembly to promote equalities. (From 1999).
bullet Provided a degree of scrutiny over subordinate legislation, which is unique in the United Kingdom. (From 1999).