Legal Expert: ‘No legal barrier’ to Welsh-only Senedd name
The former Chief Legal Adviser at the Assembly has said there is no legal barrier to giving the body a Welsh-only name.
A rally is being held this Saturday at 12pm outside the Senedd in support of a Welsh-only name, before a final vote on the renaming of the Assembly next Wednesday, 13th November.
The Welsh Government had raised doubts about whether the names ‘Senedd’ or ‘Senedd Cymru’ in Welsh alone would be lawful, arguing that it could be contrary to legislation that requires Welsh and English to be given equal status.
However Keith Bush QC, a Senior Fellow in Welsh Law at Cardiff University, wrote to the Welsh language society, Cymdeithas yr Iaith, that he did not see that it could be a problem.
“I do not believe that there is any legal barrier which would stand in the way of changing the name of the Assembly to “Senedd” or “Senedd Cymru”, without an official corresponding English version,” he wrote.
“Of course, there may be various opinions about the appropriateness of a monolingual or bilingual name for the Assembly. But that’s a matter of opinion and there is no legal barrier to choosing a Welsh only name.
“The Government’s argument against using either “Senedd” or “Senedd Cymru” (without an English version) is that it would be contrary to the spirit of section 5 of the Legislation (Wales) Act 2019. That section relates to the equal status of the Welsh and English texts of the legislation, and it does not appear to have relevance to the question of the name of the legislature.”
Keith Bush QC also said that there was no legal reason to call the institution ‘Senedd Cymru’ rather than only ‘Senedd’.
“Another question is whether the name “Senedd” (if a Welsh-only name is chosen) should be coupled with a reference to the territory of the Senedd,” he wrote.
“That is, should the Assembly be renamed “Senedd” or “Senedd Cymru”?
“Again, the Government is not suggesting there is any legal barrier to choosing the name “Senedd”. Rather, the First Minister’s argument is that “Senedd Cymru” would be more understandable to those who read the term, for example when it appears in legislation.
“It is a practical objection, rather than a legal one, which is being put forward by the Government and I agree that is the situation.”
Last month a total of 43 AMs to 13 backed former First Minister Carwyn Jones’ changes to the Senedd and Elections Bill, which would change the name of the institution to both Senedd Cymru and Welsh Parliament.
A vote backing a Welsh-only name was defeated by 38 AMs, with 16 in support and one abstention.