Adieu Assembly, hello Welsh Parliament: All you need to know about the Senedd’s name change

The Senedd. Picture by Senedd Cymru.

From tomorrow onwards the National Assembly of Wales will be no more – it will be known as Senedd Cymru, or the Welsh Parliament.

In practice, most politicians, the public and media outlets (like this one) are likely to call it just ‘the Senedd’, as has been the custom for some time.

Why is the name changing? When the Welsh Assembly was set up it did not have law-making powers or the ability to vary taxes, and chose a name that didn’t imply it had more powers than it did.

The new name reflects the Senedd’s constitutional status as a national parliament, as voted for in the 2011 devolution referendum which was won by the ‘Yes’ side by 63% to 36%.

The new name will also help the public understand what the institution does, as an ‘Assembly’ is a less familiar term in the UK, while parliament is already commonly understood because of its use by the Westminster and Scottish Parliaments.

There is also hope that it will make clearer than the legislative body, the Senedd, is a separate institution to the executive, the Welsh Government.

The Senedd logo. Picture by Senedd Cymru.

Before changing the name, the Assembly consulted with the public to find out what they would like to call the institution. The public backed a name change from Assembly to Senedd.

Some Assembly Members argued for an English translation, Welsh Parliament, as well. This was controversial, with the Welsh language society, Cymdeithas yr Iaith, among others, arguing for just Senedd.

But while the official name voted for is Senedd Cymru / Welsh Parliament, the Assembly has made it clear that Senedd will be its prefered name in Welsh and English from tomorrow onwards.

Senedd is the Welsh word for parliament, and has the same Latin root, ‘senatus’, as the word senate in English.

 

Debate

What else changes? Well, now that there is no Welsh Assembly, there are no longer any Assembly Members. They will now be known as Members of the Senedd, or MS for short.

Why not Members of the Welsh Parliament? Some had feared that the acronym, MWP, would make them sound like the muppets.

In Welsh, Members of the Senedd will be known as Aelodau’r Senedd, or AS. This could cause confusion as Members of Parliament who go to Westminster are also known as AS in Welsh.

Westminster’s Members of Parliament may need to find something else to call themselves, as there is no official Welsh name for them as there is now for AS at the Senedd.

Among other changes, the building formerly known as ‘the Senedd’ in Cardiff Bay, where politicians meet to debate, will now be known as… the Senedd – but with ‘building’ added for clarity if needed.

The Senedd. Picture by Senedd Cymru.

What else? Terms of the Senedd will be known as Seneddau, the Welsh plural of Senedd. The name change isn’t being backdated – past terms of the Assembly will still be called Assemblies.

This present term will be known as the Fifth Assembly until today, and the Fifth Senedd from tomorrow on. What Wikipedia’s record-keepers will make of that, who knows.

Of course, for most people, these changes will largely pass unnoticed, apart from the fact that they will hear Senedd or Welsh Parliament on the news when previous they heard Assembly.

But for Wales, it will be a historic event. It will be the first time a Welsh Parliament has met since Machynlleth under Owain Glyndŵr in 1402, over 600 years ago – although Glyndŵr did not have to meet over Zoom.

Owain Glyndŵr’s Parliament House (Welsh: Senedd-dy Owain Glyndŵr), the building where Owain Glyndŵr held a parliament after being crowned Prince of Wales in 1404. Picture by Llywelyn2000 (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Goodbye Assembly

Today meanwhile we bid goodbye to the Welsh Assembly. The name ‘Assembly’ has a history that dates back almost 50 years to at least 1971, when the idea of setting up devolved ‘assemblies’ in the UK was mooted by the Kilbrandon Report commissioned by Harold Wilson’s Labour government.

The commission was set up in response to growing demands for home rule or full independence for Wales and Scotland following shock wins for Plaid Cymru and the SNP at the 1966 and 1967 elections.

In 1975 a ‘Wales for the Assembly Campaign’ was set up in order to campaign for Welsh devolution. Elystan Morgan, a former Labour MP became the leader of the campaign group.

The devolution referendum in Scotland in 1979 would also have led to the establishment of a Scottish Assembly. But both the Welsh and Scottish referenda were unsuccessful.

By the time the 1997 devolution referenda came around, Scottish devolutionists were campaigning for a Scottish Parliament instead.

However, in Wales the Labour Government decided to once again campaign for an Assembly – perhaps aware that with a tighter vote expected, the idea of a fully-fledged Parliament might scare off those less keen on Welsh autonomy, including some MPs.

Perhaps they were right to think so – only 50.30% backed devolution for Wales at the referendum.

However, with opinion polling showing that 86% now back some form of devolution, and 54% wanting independence or more powers, the institution feels confident enough to take that next step.

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Simon Gruffydd
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Simon Gruffydd

I’m not really keen on either the new Welsh or English names for our national democratic forum. “Parliament” is a Franco-Norman derivative basically meaning a place for “our betters” to discuss how to govern us. Senedd is a cognate of the Latin “Senate”, or a council of elders, performing the same dis-empowering role of a Parliament. Both these names under-emphasis democratic accountability and the notion that the people are sovereign. Hence I can see why they enjoy the support of politicians. Welsh National Assembly / Cynhadledd Genedlaethol Cymreig would have been a more democratic in spirit choice.

John Ellis
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John Ellis

Maybe that’s one reason why the French opted for ‘National Assemby’ as the title of their lower house at the time of the revolution and have stuck with it ever since? Though as their upper house is styled ‘the Senate’, they presumably didn’t extend any reservations to that …

Jonathan Gammond
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Jonathan Gammond

Doesnt the Fifth Assembly give way to the First Senedd rather than the Fifth, or perhaps even the Second Senedd? I dont know how many sessions or parliaments Owain Glyndwr held, did he hold more than one? Is it too controversial to acknowledge the medieval precedent?

Ann Owen
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Ann Owen

Will there be an “event” to celebrate this – virtually e.g via a short film or a parliamentary speech from Y Llywydd to mark the occasion? Will this be televised as it happens? Hmm…………??

j humphrys
Guest
j humphrys

Don’t let it be popsters singing their old hits again. Traditional Welsh costume, music and dance, please

Welsh_Sion
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Welsh_Sion

Well … I notice that the MSM are covering it in great detail with pages and pages of news [Cont. on p.94]. This includes the ‘State Broadcaster’ who are doing an in-depth analysis of the institution, its history, its powers and how Owain Glyndŵr’s Parliaments were forerunners of the current Senedd. Then there are extensive articles all over explaining how to pronounce ‘Senedd’ correctly, and how this is a momentous/historic/momentous AND historic* [*insert grandiose adjective of choice] day/occasion in the history of Wales.

Or not.

Phil
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Phil

It’s all well and good changing its name but until we get the same powers as Scotland in areas such as policing and justice, the name of the assembly /parliament is meaningless.

When on earth are we going to take control of important areas ourselves

Huw Davies
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Huw Davies

Too true. You can call it what you like but if it can only fire blanks it serves very little purpose. This is NOT a shout for shutting it down, on the contrary it should be beefed up with real powers to govern, not have to go running up and down to London for instructions on every move.

Glen
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Glen

What’s in a name?
Are they going to start acting like a national parliament or will they continue like a branch of the Mothers’ Union.

Redmond Mocke
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Redmond Mocke

Oh, how I wish for a REAL Welsh Party to vote for. Plaid Cymru set themselves up against the majority of Welsh people and even climbed into bed with the ‘foreign’ LibDems. I cannot believe that a so-called nationalist party would want to give away what little sovereignty we had to the unelectable bureaucrats in Brussels. Plaid Cymru needs to apologise to the Welsh people and find a way to become a PROPER nationalistic party. Stop dwelling in 1404AD, we defeated the English fairly and squarely on the battlefield in 1485AD. A Welshman ruled England and Wales for 25 years… Read more »

Mathew Rees
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Mathew Rees

Agree wholeheartedly. Most Welsh nationalists I’ve met have a childish mindset and unhealthy psychology. Plaid Cymru will be lucky to get 5 seats next year.

Redmond Mocke
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Redmond Mocke

Mathew, I do not have a political home. A Party that I could vote for with the interests of ALL Welsh people at heart. I’ll not vote for ConLibLab foreign parties and I’ll not vote for Plaid Cymru until they wake up to the 21st century. My hope is that one day there will arise out of the Plaid Cymru ashes a modern-day Owain Glyndwr or Harri Tudur, one with b@lls that can wake Wales up and lead us to better ourselves. One that all of Wales, Welsh speakers and non-Welsh speakers can look up to and follow. At this… Read more »

Mathew Rees
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Mathew Rees

I’m in the same place as you but I’m not as hopeful.

Rhosddu
Guest
Rhosddu

Have a look at the WNP or Gwlad, Gwlad, then. If Plaid Cymru comes out top in your reckoning, stick with Plaid for better or for worse. If not, you have two potential candidates for a new political home.

j humphrys
Guest
j humphrys

Well done brexiteers, btw, for putting UK atop one list!

Simon 359
Guest
Simon 359

The main site of the actual battle is in a few fields about halfway between Atherstone and Bosworth battlefield heritage centre. I have been then and thats where most of the battle relics are found by detectorists.

Mathew Rees
Guest
Mathew Rees

Sadly, this rebrand won’t make people any less angry at the ineptitude of its government or enliven people’s interest in devolution.

Even people like me, Welsh-speaking and broadly nationalist are seeing that nothing will come of this terrible place under Labour or Plaid Cymru and the Tories won’t get a working majority.

The only real answer is to close it. Better to kill the host than the parasite.

j humphrys
Guest
j humphrys

Would be nice if it was attached to the original in Machynlleth like Sterling’s Reichstag. Forward………..Zoom!

simon359
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simon359

No thanks. Mach is nice as it is. We don’t want a load of windbag politicians or paparazzi spoiling the town.

Jay
Guest
Jay

Non-country with new non-parliament

Steve Duggan
Guest
Steve Duggan

Jay thank you – it’ll be the attitude of people like you who will ultimately see us gain independence, we’ve had enough of dismissiveness, neglect and arrogance – keep it up please.

Steve Duggan
Guest
Steve Duggan

The name is everything – now it must be promoted, used well. A strong Welsh media has to be created that puts everything Welsh first. Over the next few years it’s going be tough – we have the fallout from Covid-19 and probably a hard Brexit post Demember too. The Tories in Westminster will care even less for the poverty and inequality in Cyrmu, for one, it’ll be too busy trying to keep support in the North of England. The Senedd Cymru will have to be at it’s strongest if it is to guide us through this mess.