National Assembly for Wales: AMs to vote on new name

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Media captionThe assembly is set to get a new name – but what do people think it should it be?

A row about the future name of the National Assembly for Wales will reach the floor of the institution later.

AMs will vote on whether it should be the Welsh word for parliament – Senedd – or whether both Senedd Cymru and Welsh Parliament should be used.

Plaid Cymru wants a Welsh-only name, while Welsh ministers think the assembly’s name should be bilingual.

It is one of several issues AMs will consider on Wednesday, with voting expected to run late into the night.

The votes are not the final stage in the matter, but are a major part of the process to decide what the final name will be.

Former first minister Carwyn Jones’ proposal for a bilingual name has sparked debate – supporters of the name Senedd have included BBC News presenter Huw Edwards.

The changes are part of the Senedd and Elections Bill – about 150 votes are expected on more than 350 amendments with subjects ranging from what AMs should be called, to whether foreign nationals can vote in assembly elections.

The assembly was given powers over its own affairs – including its name – in 2017, following years of calls for it to be called the Welsh Parliament.

Presiding officer Elin Jones is trying to change the law so the assembly becomes the Senedd.

Her proposed bill says the assembly may also be known as the Welsh Parliament.

Carwyn Jones has tabled amendments that make it clearer that Welsh Parliament would be one of two names for the assembly, the other being Senedd Cymru.

Mr Jones said a bilingual name should be given to the legislature “at least” on a temporary basis, so everyone understands what the institution does.

The Welsh Government has backed him. First Minister Mark Drakeford said he expects people will use the Welsh term when referring to the institution on a daily basis, but greater clarity was needed in the law itself.

Labour AMs have a free vote and not all agree with the government’s position.

‘Simple’

Two of them – Caerphilly’s Hefin David and Swansea East’s Mike Hedges – are supporting a Plaid Cymru amendment for a Welsh-only name. Mr David said Senedd was “simple” and “straightforward”.

Plaid’s Rhun ap Iorwerth said it was “patronising to assume that those who do not speak Welsh will not understand the name Senedd – a name that is very widely used already”.

The building that houses the assembly chamber is already called the Senedd.

“Let’s instead be confident in ourselves, uniting the nation behind the name that belongs to everyone regardless of their language,” Mr ap Iorwerth added.

Blaenau Gwent Labour AM Alun Davies, who has supported Carwyn Jones’ proposal, is critical of how the Welsh Government has handled the issue.

“They have persuaded Carwyn to propose their amendments and have whipped ministers but have not led any process to find or reach any sort of agreement,” he told BBC Wales.

Image caption

The names of assembly members will need to change

Tory AMs want a bilingual name and are expected to vote for Carwyn Jones’ amendments tomorrow.

“The Welsh Assembly is and always has been a bilingual institution,” said Conservative group leader Paul Davies, adding: “It must remain that way to reflect the wider society in our country.”

Labour AM Alun Davies has proposed the title assembly member is changed to members of the Welsh Parliament (MWPs) following the change in name, while Carwyn Jones has backed Members of Senedd Cymru (MSCs).

It is understood ministers will vote for the latter.

The Welsh Government is also proposing extending the franchise for assembly elections to foreign nationals resident legally in the UK; disqualifying registered sex offenders from being AMs; and preventing politicians from being AMs and councillors at the same time.

If the legislation, which includes votes for 16 year olds in assembly elections, is passed it is expected the name of the assembly will change by May 2020.



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