Friday 24 September 2021

Visiting the Senedd Cymru

Author User (WT-Shared) Cardiff  Public Domain Source Wikipedia Cymru


For many of us in the Northern Powerhouse (the Greater Manchester, Merseyside, West and South Yorkshire conurbations) the peaks of Eryri and the coasts of the Llŷn Peninsula and Ynys Môn are a favourite playground.  Except when I was a graduate student in the United States I have visited that region several times a year every year of my life.  Professionally I have also visited Newport for hearings at the Intellectual Property Office. It is slightly easier to reach and a lot more economical to visit than Aldgate or Victoria Street in London. More recently, I have been coming to that city's Riverfront Theatre to watch performances by Ballet Cymru of which I am a big fan.  But I never had occasion to spend time in Wales's capital city until this month. That is a pity because I found Cardiff to be one of the most vibrant and in many ways one of the most beautiful major cities in these islands.

There is a lot to see and do in that city and as I had only a single day for sightseeing I chose to visit St Fagans National Museum of History, Llandaff Cathedral and the Senedd Cymru.  The Senedd is the name of the devolved legislature for Wales formerly known as the National Assembly for Wales. The name was changed by s.2 of the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Act 2020 with effect from 6 May 2020 by virtue of s.42 (2).  The Senedd is open to the public between Monday and Thursday from 09:00 to 16:30.  Admission is free but tickets have to be booked through Eventbrite.  Those who cannot visit Cardiff conveniently can take advantage of the virtual tour in English or Welsh.

On our visit, my travelling companion and I were welcomed in English and Welsh by a very kindly gentleman called Shay who is a "Visitor Engagement Officer."   I have been learning Welsh for just over a year with SaySomethingin supplemented by online courses from Popeth Cymraeg, Nant Gwrtheyrn and the London Welsh Centre but I have found it very difficult to practise speaking the language.  The moment Shay uttered the words "Bore da" I responded joyfully with "Oh! Dach chi'n siarad Cymraeg?"  And happily, he did.  For several minutes he patiently listened to my laboured sentences, grammatical errors and mispronunciations before ushering us through the security screen and introducing us to a colleague.  Shay's colleague showed us the chamber, a debate in committee over a video link,  various infographics showing the composition of the Senedd, its constituencies and regional lists, exhibitions celebrating the history of devolved government in Wales and the Welsh Afro-Caribbean community's experience in Wales before depositing us in the tea room with panoramic views of Cardiff Bay where my friend and I enjoyed cacennau cri, bara brith and paneidiau o de.

Wales was the first nation of the British Isles to unite with England though many would argue that "unite" is not the most appropriate verb to describe the arrangement.  For over 400 years Wales was governed as an appendage of England.   Under the Laws in Wales Act 1535, English law was introduced into Wales and Welsh electors were represented in the House of Commons for the first time.   A Welsh office and a committee of Welsh MPs was set up in the 20th century.  The National Assembly for Wales with limited executive powers was established by s.1 (1) of the Government of Wales Act 1998.  Those powers and functions were expanded and a Welsh government was established by the Government of Wales Act 2006.   The Wales Act 2014  and The Wales Act 2017 extended those legislative and executive powers.  Wales, unlike Scotland and Northern Ireland, does not yet have a separate court system but that is under active consideration (see "A Separate Welsh Jurisdiction"  21 Feb 2021).

I shall be at Nant Gwrtheyrn between 27 and 29 Sept 2021 and intend to visit M-SParc during that time. Should any tenant or other local business wish to discuss an intellectual property or related legal issue please call my clerk David on 020 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact form to make an appointment.

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