Welsh Government

Welsh Labour First Minister of Wales Wales
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Welsh Government
Welsh: Llywodraeth Cymru
Welsh Government logo.png
Established12 May 1999 (1999-05-12)
LeaderFirst Minister
Appointed byMonarch
Main organCabinet
Responsible toSenedd
Annual budget£18.4 billion (2019/20)
Websitegov.wales Edit this at Wikidata

The Welsh Government (Welsh: Llywodraeth Cymru) is the devolved executive of Wales. The government consists of ministers, who attend cabinet meetings, and deputy ministers who do not, and also of a counsel general. It is led by the First Minister, usually the leader of the largest party in the Senedd (Welsh Parliament), who selects ministers and deputy ministers with the approval of the Senedd. The government is responsible for tabling policy in devolved areas (such as health, education, economic development, transport and local government) for consideration by the Senedd and implementing policy that has been approved by it.[1][2]

The current Welsh Government is a Labour-led administration, following the 2016 National Assembly for Wales election. Mark Drakeford has been the First Minister of Wales since December 2018.


The Welsh Office

Prior to devolution in 1999 many executive functions for Wales were carried out by the Secretary of State for Wales and the Welsh Office. The Welsh Office was a department in the Government of the United Kingdom with responsibilities for Wales. It was established in April 1965 to execute government policy in Wales, and was headed by the Secretary of State for Wales, a post which had been created in October 1964. The post however had no Welsh electoral mandate, and over the ensuing years there were complaints of a "democratic deficit". For eleven years prior to 1997 Wales had been represented in the Cabinet of the United Kingdom by a Secretary of State who did not represent a Welsh constituency at Westminster. These factors led to growing calls for political devolution. The Welsh Office was disbanded on 1 July 1999 when most of its powers were transferred to the National Assembly for Wales.

Executive Committee of the National Assembly for Wales 1999 to 2007

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The National Assembly was created by the Government of Wales Act 1998, which followed a referendum in 1997. As initially established, the Welsh Government had no independent executive powers in law (unlike, for instance, the Scottish ministers and British government ministers). The National Assembly was established as a body corporate by the Government of Wales Act 1998 and the executive, as a committee of the assembly, only had those powers that the assembly as a whole voted to delegate to ministers.

The Government of Wales Act 2006 formally separated the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Government, giving Welsh ministers independent executive authority, this taking effect after the May 2007 elections. Following separation, the Welsh ministers exercise functions in their own right. Further transfers of executive functions from the British government can be made directly to the Welsh ministers (with their consent) by an Order in Council approved by the British parliament.

Separation was designed to clarify the respective roles of the assembly and the government. Under the structures established by the Government of Wales Act 2006, the role of Welsh ministers is to make decisions; develop and implement policy; exercise executive functions and make statutory instruments. The remainder of the 60 assembly members in the National Assembly scrutinise the government's decisions and policies; hold ministers to account; approve budgets for the Welsh Government's programmes; and enact acts of assembly on subjects that have been devolved to the Welsh administration.

The result mirrored much more closely the relationship between the British government and British parliament and that between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament.

After the 2007 election of the National Assembly for Wales

Legal separation

The new arrangements provided for in the Government of Wales Act 2006 created a formal legal separation between the National Assembly for Wales, comprising 60 assembly members, and the Welsh Assembly Government, comprising the First Minister, Welsh ministers, deputy ministers and the counsel general. This separation between the two bodies took effect on the appointment of the First Minister by Queen Elizabeth II following the assembly election on 3 May 2007.

Separation was meant to clarify the respective roles of the assembly and the government. The role of the government is to make decisions; develop and implement policy; exercise executive functions and make statutory instruments. The 60 assembly members in the National Assembly scrutinise the Welsh Government's decisions and policies; hold ministers to account; approve budgets for the Welsh Government's programmes; and have the power to enact assembly measures on certain matters. Assembly measures can now go further than the subordinate legislation which the assembly had the power to make prior to 2007.

Transfer of functions

The assembly's functions, including that of making subordinate legislation, in the main, transferred to the Welsh ministers upon separation. A third body was also established under the 2006 Act from May 2007, called the National Assembly for Wales Commission. It employs the staff supporting the new National Assembly for Wales, and holds property, enters into contracts and provides support services on its behalf.

Welsh ministers

The 2006 Act made new provision for the appointment of Welsh ministers. The First Minister is nominated by the Assembly and then appointed by Her Majesty the Queen. The First Minister then appoints the Welsh Ministers and the Deputy Welsh Ministers, with the approval of Her Majesty. The Act created a new post of Counsel General for Wales, the principal source of legal advice to the Welsh Government. The Counsel General is appointed by the Queen, on the nomination of the First Minister, whose recommendation must be agreed by the National Assembly. The Counsel General may be, but does not have to be, an Assembly Member. The Act permits a maximum of 12 Welsh Ministers, which includes Deputy Welsh Ministers, but excludes the First Minister and the Counsel General. Accordingly, the maximum size of the Welsh Government is 14.

2011 referendum on law-making powers

Functions and areas of competence

Following the "yes" vote in the referendum on further law-making powers for the assembly on 3 March 2011, the Welsh Government is now entitled to propose bills to the National Assembly for Wales on subjects within 20 fields of policy. Subject to limitations prescribed by the Government of Wales Act 2006, Acts of the National Assembly may make any provision that could be made by Act of Parliament. The 20 areas of responsibility devolved to the National Assembly for Wales (and within which Welsh ministers exercise executive functions) are:


The Welsh Assembly Government was renamed Welsh Government (Llywodraeth Cymru) in practice in 2011, and in law by the Wales Act 2014.[3] [4]

Cabinet members and deputy ministers

The government is composed of ministers and deputy ministers. The counsel general is also a member of the Cabinet. The current government is formed by Welsh Labour, the sole Liberal Democrats MS, Kirsty Williams and Independent MS Dafydd Elis-Thomas.

Office Name Term Party Image
First Minister Rt. Hon Mark Drakeford MS 2018– Labour Mark Drakeford - National Assembly for Wales.jpg
Minister for Finance and Trefnydd Rebecca Evans MS 2018– Labour Rebecca Evans AM (27555062324).jpg
Minister for Health and Social Services Vaughan Gething MS 2016– Labour Vaughan Gething.jpg
Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths MS 2018– Labour Lesley Griffiths.jpg
Minister for Housing and Local Government Julie James MS 2018– Labour Julie James - National Assembly for Wales.jpg
Minister for International Relations and the Welsh Language Eluned Morgan MS 2018– Labour Eluned Morgan AM (28136582086).jpg
Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales Ken Skates MS 2016– Labour Ken Skates - National Assembly for Wales.jpg
Minister for Education Kirsty Williams MS 2016– Liberal Democrats Kirsty Williams 2011.jpg
Counsel General and Minister for European Transition Jeremy Miles MS 2018– Labour Jeremy Miles AM (28170809995).jpg
Deputy Ministers
Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government Hannah Blythyn MS 2018– Labour Hannah Blythyn AM (27555185853).jpg
Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism Rt. Hon Dafydd Elis-Thomas MS 2017– Independent Dafydd Elis-Thomas 2011.jpg
Deputy Minister and Chief Whip Jane Hutt MS 2018– Labour Jane Hutt AM (28136581466).jpg
Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services Julie Morgan MS 2018– Labour Julie Morgan AM (28066509352).jpg
Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport Lee Waters MS 2018– Labour Lee Waters AM (28066509142).jpg

Civil service

The Welsh Government also includes a civil service that supports the Welsh ministers. As of March 2018, there are 5,015 full-time equivalent civil servants working across Wales.[6] The civil service is a matter reserved to the British parliament at Westminster: Welsh Government civil servants work within the rules and customs of Her Majesty's Civil Service, but serve the devolved administration rather than the British government.[7]

Permanent secretary

The permanent secretary heads the civil service of the Welsh Government and chairs the Strategic Delivery and Performance Board.

The permanent secretary is a member of Her Majesty's Civil Service, and therefore takes part in the permanent secretaries management group of the Civil Service[8] and is answerable to the most senior civil servant in Britain, the cabinet secretary, for his or her professional conduct. He or she remains, however, at the direction of the Welsh ministers.


The Board

The Welsh Government Board translates the strategic direction set by the Welsh cabinet and its committees into work that is joined up across Welsh Government departments and makes the best use of its resources. The board is made up of four directors general, four directors and 4 non-executive directors, and is chaired by the permanent secretary.

Board members are appointed at the discretion of and by the permanent secretary. Membership is not wholly dependent on functional responsibilities; it is designed to provide balanced advice and support to the permanent secretary, and collective leadership to the organisation as a whole.[10]

Position Name
Permanent Secretary Dame Shan Morgan, DCMG
Director General, Education and Public Services Group Tracey Burke
Director General, Economy, Skills & Natural Resources Group Andrew Slade
Director General, Health & Social Services Group and Chief Executive of NHS Wales Dr. Andrew Goodall CBE
Director General, Office of the First Minister Group Desmond Clifford
Director, Legal Services Helen Lentle
Director, Governance & Ethics David Richards
Director, Finance Gawain Evans
Director, Corporate Services Peter Kennedy
non-executive director Gareth Lynn
non-executive director Meena Upadhyaya
non-executive director Jeff Fararr
non-executive director Ellen Donovan
Head of Organisational Development and Engagement Natalie Pearson
Board Equality and Diversity Champion Andrew Jeffreys

Welsh Government sponsored bodies

The Welsh Government is responsible for a number of Welsh Government sponsored bodies (WGSBs). These are, respectively,

WGSBs are staffed by public servants rather than civil servants.

The Welsh Government is also responsible for some public bodies that are not classed as WGSBs, such as NHS Wales, and the Welsh Offices of England and Wales legal offices.


The Welsh Government has a total of 18 core and operational offices across Wales. It also has an office based in Westminster. Additionally, it has 7 specialist properties across Wales, which include stores, traffic management centres and the pavilion at the Royal Welsh Showground.

The Government also has 21 offices located in 11 countries outside the United Kingdom: Belgium; Canada; China; France; Germany; Ireland; India; Japan; Qatar; United Arab Emirates, and the United States of America.[11]

Historically, most Welsh Office staff were based in Cardiff, especially in Cathays Park. However, in 2002, the Fullerton Review concluded that "the Assembly could no longer sustain having the majority of its operational functions located in and around Cardiff".[12] Since 2004, Welsh Government civil servants have been relocated across Wales as part of the Location Strategy, which involved the creation of new offices at Merthyr Tydfil, Aberystwyth and Llandudno Junction.[13] In 2006, the mergers of ELWa, the Wales Tourist Board and the Welsh Development Agency into the Welsh Government brought these agencies' offices into the Welsh Government estate.

The office of the First Minister is in Tŷ Hywel in Cardiff Bay; an office is also kept at the Welsh Government building in Cathays Park where the majority of Cardiff-based Welsh Government civil servants are located.


Wales receives a budget allocation from the UK Government[14] determined by the Barnett Formula, which makes up roughly 80% of the Welsh budget. The remaining 20% comes from devolved taxes such as Non-domestic rates, Land Transaction Tax, Landfill Disposal Tax and the Welsh rates of Income Tax. These taxes are collected and managed by the Welsh Revenue Authority except for income tax which is collected by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and then distributed to the Welsh Government.

The Welsh Government sets out its spending and financing plans for the forthcoming financial year in the autumn.

The Senedd scrutinises the budget and associated taxation and spending plans.

List of successive Welsh Governments

See also


  1. ^ "Welsh Government: a quick guide" (PDF). Welsh Government. 2015. Retrieved 13 January 2016.
  2. ^ "Welsh Government: about". Welsh Government. 2016. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  3. ^ "Welsh assembly report damns Cardiff government for failure to cut poverty". The Guardian website. Guardian News & Media. 19 June 2015. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  4. ^ "Law Wales - Welsh Government". Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  5. ^ "Cabinet members and ministers". gov.wales. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  6. ^ "Welsh Government | Number of staff at the Welsh Government". gov.wales. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  7. ^ "Welsh Government civil service: how we work". Welsh Government. 11 November 2013. Retrieved 13 January 2016.
  8. ^ "Civil Service. PSMG Membership". Archived from the original on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 14 May 2011.
  9. ^ a b "Diplomat to be new Welsh Government permanent secretary". BBC News. 9 November 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  10. ^ Welsh Government | Membership Archived 30 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Wales.gov.uk (18 March 2013). Retrieved on 24 August 2013.
  11. ^ "State of the estate report 2018 to 2019". GOV.WALES. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  12. ^ "Welsh Government – Update on Location Strategy". Archived from the original on 15 March 2012. Retrieved 3 August 2010.
  13. ^ "Welsh Government – Location Strategy". Archived from the original on 3 April 2009.
  14. ^ Welsh Government | Budgets. Wales.gov.uk (8 July 2013). Retrieved on 24 August 2013.