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"A process, not an event": Devolution in Wales, 1998-2018

Published Wednesday, July 11, 2018

A narrative of devolution in Wales, 1998-2018

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Ceir fersiwn Gymraeg o'r crynodeb isod

Summary

Prior to the 1997 referendum on devolving power from Westminster to Wales, the then Secretary of State for Wales, Ron Davies, memorably referred to devolution as “a process, not an event”. In a pamphlet published ahead of the first elections to the new National Assembly for Wales in May 1999, he explained:

"Devolution is a process. It is not an event and neither is it a journey with a fixed end-point. The devolution process is enabling us to make our own decisions and set our own priorities, that is the important point. We test our constitution with experience and we do that in a pragmatic and not an ideologically driven way."

The story of devolution in Wales in the two decades since the Government of Wales Act 1998 received Royal Assent on 31 July 1998 illustrates Davies’ point, for the “process” of devolution continues to this day.

This briefing paper summarises the main developments regarding devolution in Wales since 1998. It begins by setting out the current constitutional position before examining five broad phases of devolution:

  • administrative devolution (1964-1999);
  • executive devolution with secondary law-making powers (1999-2007);
  • executive devolution with enhanced secondary powers (2007-2011);
  • legislative devolution under a “conferred powers” model (2011-2018);
  • legislative devolution under a “reserved powers” model (2018- ).

In doing so, this paper revisits the key pieces of legislation involved in each phase, beginning with the Government of Wales Act 1998 and continuing with the Government of Wales Act 2006 and Wales Acts of 2014 and 2017. It also looks at the work of the Richard, Holtham and Silk Commissions in shaping those Acts of Parliament and, finally, summarises ongoing debates concerning Wales’ constitutional future.

Crynodeb

Cyn y refferendwm yn 1997 ar ddatganoli pwerau o San Steffan i Gymru, cyfeiriodd Ysgrifennydd Gwladol Cymru ar y pryd, Ron Davies, at ddatganoli fel “proses yn hytrach na digwyddiad.” Yn dilyn ei ymadrodd cofiadwy, esboniodd mewn pamffled a gyhoeddwyd cyn etholiadau cyntaf y Cynulliad Cenedlaethol newydd ar gyfer Cymru ym mis Mai 1999:

“Proses yw datganoli. Nid achlysur ydyw nac ychwaith daith ag iddi gyrchfan sefydlog. Mae’r broses ddatganoli’n ein galluogi i benderfynu drosom ein hunain a dewis ein blaenoriaethau, dyna’r pwynt pwysig. Rydym yn profi ein cyfansoddiad gyda phrofiad a rydym yn gwneud hynny mewn dull pragmataidd nid mewn ffordd sy’n cael ei gyrru gan ideoleg.”

Mae hanes datganoli yn ystod y ddau ddegawd ers i Ddeddf Llywodraeth Cymru 1998 dderbyn Cydsyniad Brenhinol ar 31 Gorffennaf 1998 yn ategu geiriau Ron Davies gan fod “proses” datganoli yn parhau hyd heddiw.

Mae’r papur briffio hwn yn crynhoi’r prif ddatblygiadau o ran datganoli yng Nghymru ers 1998. Mae’n amlinellu’r hinsawdd gyfansoddiadol sydd ohoni cyn archwilio pum cyfnod allweddol yn ystod datganoli:

  • datganoli gweinyddol (1964-1999);
  • datganoli gweithredol gyda phwerau deddfu eilradd (1999-2007);
  • datganoli gweithredol gyda phwerau eilradd estynedig (2007-2011);
  • datganoli deddfwriaethol fel rhan o fodel “rhoi pwerau” (2011-2018);
  • datganoli deddfwriaethol fel rhan o fodel “cadw pwerau” (2018-)

Mae’r papur yn edrych ar y deddfau a oedd yn allweddol ym mhob cyfnod, gan ddechrau gyda Deddf Llywodraeth Cymru 1998 ac yna Deddf Llywodraeth Cymru 2006 a Deddfau Cymru yn 2014 a 2017. Mae hefyd yn edrych ar ddylanwad Comisiynau Richard, Holtham a Silk ar Ddeddfau’r Llywodraeth, gan gloi gyda chrynodeb o ddadleuon cyfredol ynghylch dyfodol cyfansoddiadol Cymru.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-8318

Author: David Torrance

Topics: Constitution, Devolution, National Assembly for Wales, Parliament

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