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AMs back Senedd Cymru/Welsh Parliament for new assembly name

AMs back Senedd Cymru/Welsh Parliament for new assembly name

  • 9 October 2019
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Image caption The names of assembly members will need to change

AMs have voted to rename the the assembly, calling it both Senedd Cymru and Welsh Parliament.

A majority of AMs backed former first minister Carwyn Jones' proposals for a bilingual name, and rejected plans for a Welsh-only name, Senedd.

Plaid's Rhun ap Iorwerth said the word Senedd was rooted in the Welsh language, but Mr Jones said it was not clear everyone understood the word.

Presiding officer Elin Jones said she was "disappointed" with the result.

A total of 43 AMs backed Mr Jones' plan, with 13 against.

A vote backing a Welsh-only name was defeated 16 votes for, 38 against, and one abstention.

Meanwhile AMs have reiterated their support for votes for 16 and 17-year-olds in assembly elections.

A Brexit Party attempt to scrap the plans from the Senedd and Elections Bill, understood to be backed by some Conservative AMs, failed to pass - 11 votes for and 45 against.

  • Assembly's new bilingual name set to be backed
  • Welsh Assembly set to be renamed Senedd
  • Tensions over Welsh Assembly name change

It is not the final stage in the passage of Elin Jones' bill through the assembly, but is a key part of the process.

Carwyn Jones' proposal for a bilingual name had sparked debate - supporters of the name Senedd have included BBC News presenter Huw Edwards.

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

If the bill passes, the new name will come into force in May 2020, with changes to the voting age implemented at the next assembly elections in 2021.

The debate opened on Wednesday with Mr ap Iorwerth, who was backed by Labour's Hefin David and Mike Hedges in tabling an amendment backing a Welsh-only name.

Mr ap Iorwerth said Senedd was a "word that is of Wales, a word rooted in the Welsh language, a word that is bilingual in its application" which "belongs to us all".

Sian Gwenllian, of Plaid Cymru, highlighting Welsh words already used widely in Welsh English, said: "Let's cwtch up today, let's not be twp, let's say together there's a parliament for Wales to be known as Senedd."

Bridgend AM Carwyn Jones' proposals had been supported by the Welsh Government.

He said he himself would use the term Senedd, but his amendments made it clear in law that Senedd Cymru was Welsh Parliament.

Image caption Sian Gwenllian: "Let's cwtch up today, let's not be twp"

Carwyn Jones argued that it was important that before the use of Senedd became common, that people understand the institution is the Welsh Parliament.

He said it was "true to say Senedd is becoming more apparent among the public". But it was not the case yet that "everyone understands that Senedd means parliament", he added.

'Magnificent world'

The original bill stated that Senedd would be the name but that it could also be known as Welsh Parliament - ministers had been worried this would be confusing.

The former first minister was backed by David Melding, Conservative AM for South Wales Central.

He said a bilingual name would celebrate "the magnificent world we live in, in the English speaking world and Welsh speaking world - that combination makes Wales an exceptional place".

Image copyright Lee Waters
Image caption Carwyn Jones called for a short break in the proceedings after one of his amendments - renaming AMs Members of Senedd Cymru - failed to pass

Elin Jones' law had already called the assembly Senedd, but had included a clause saying it "may" be known as the Welsh Parliament.

Mr ap Iorwerth's amendment, which did not pass, tried to clarify that clause to make it clearer the name of the legislature would be Senedd.

Ms Jones said: "It is disappointing that the pre-eminence of the name Senedd has been defeated by a majority of assembly members.

"The term Senedd is both Welsh and international at the same time, and its simplicity has already secured its place in every day use."

Osian Rhys from Cymdeithas yr Iaith, said it was "clear from the comments in the debate today that there is a lot of support across the parties for a Welsh-only name, 'Senedd'".

AMs to become Members of the Senedd?

Proposals to call AMs Members of Senedd Cymru or Member of Welsh Parliament were both rejected by assembly members - the former by a knife edge.

It means that, as things stand, AMs will be renamed Member of the Senedd as per the bill's original proposal.

Mr Jones had proposed that members be called Members of Senedd Cymru, while Blaenau Gwent Labour AM Alun Davies had backed Members of Welsh Parliament.

Both were rejected. Mr Jones' amendment for the new title failed to pass 25 votes for, 26 against, with four abstentions.

The votes meant that Mr Jones' other successful changes left inconsistencies in the bill which will need to be changed at the next stage.

Image caption David Melding of the Conservatives backed Carwyn Jones' proposals

Analysis by Felicity Evans, BBC Wales political editor

Watching this debate has been like going to a very intense game of bingo - trying to keeping track of more than 100 votes on hundreds of amendments to an already complex piece of legislation.

Reforming the way our national parliament works is not easy or simple.

Plenty of the amendments were about the new official title of the assembly and that appears to have been settled, but the new title for AMs remains up the air, I'm told.

The other matters were varied, everything from votes at 16 (which has had a lot of attention already) to giving voting rights to foreign nationals resident in Wales (which hasn't).

That led to an accusation that Welsh Government was being "slipshod" and avoiding scrutiny by introducing the measure via an amendment.

Though it's worth remembering that EU citizens are already eligible to vote in Welsh Assembly elections.

But this was only stage two of legislative progress. Even after a mammoth night, there's still some way to go.

Foreign nationals to be given the right to vote in Wales

Later AMs voted for foreign nationals residing legally in Wales to be given the franchise in assembly elections - 38 for, 16 against.

Jeremy Miles, counsel general, told AMs: "Now is the right time for this institution to signal its commitment to people living in Wales regardless of where they were born."

Mr Melding criticised the way the "major change" was introduced, "piggybacking" on an Assembly Commission bill. Mark Reckless said it was "impossible to conclude that it was for narrow partisan reasons".

"And so is your opposition," deputy culture minister Dafydd Elis Thomas heckled.

AMs also agreed measures to stop councillors from standing for the assembly, and to disqualify sex offenders from joining the institution.

Angela Burns, Tory AM, criticised the amount of time given over to debating the name, comparing it with 45 minutes in the chamber on Tuesday to discuss maternity services in Cwm Taf.

"I'm deeply uncomfortable by this imbalance," she tweeted.

The Brexit Party made a failed bid to have the term Senedd removed from the English version of the bill, leaving simply Welsh Parliament.

David Rowlands, the party's AM for South Wales Central, said: "It is essential that the name we use can be understood not only here in Wales but throughout the rest of the world."