The National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Government have each enjoyed a growing role in the governance of Wales as the devolution process has evolved. Yet the UK Parliament still plays a very important part in the governance of Wales. The National Assembly may pass laws only in relation to matters which are not reserved to the UK Parliament by virtue of Schedule 7A to the Government of Wales Act 2006 (GOWA 2006) (more information on its legislative competence can be found here). Parliament retains the power to legislate on any topic, and has exclusive competence (subject to EU law) to legislate for Wales in relation to all the reserved matters. This includes some important areas such as policing, justice, social security and most areas of commercial/business law.
Even in those areas which are devolved (i.e. not reserved), there is a huge volume of UK legislation which still applies in Wales. For example, there are many Acts of Parliament which pre-date devolution, and Parliament can still legislate for Wales post-devolution (with the consent of the National Assembly).
Many executive powers (powers to enforce the law) in both devolved and non-devolved areas now reside with the Welsh Ministers. The Welsh Ministers have many functions under Acts of Parliament as well as under Assembly Acts and Assembly Measures. However, functions under Acts of Parliament are not always delegated to Welsh Ministers. Sometimes those functions are delegated to the Secretary of State (that is, a UK Minister) instead.
The Office of the Secretary of State for Wales
The Office of the Secretary of State for Wales' role involves:
- representing the UK Government in Wales
- representing Welsh interests in Westminster
- overseeing the working of the devolution settlement
- steering Welsh-specific legislation through the UK Parliament