Helping you understand Welsh law

Government of Wales Act 1998

The Government of Wales Act 1998 (GOWA 1998) set up the National Assembly as a corporate body. To all intents and purposes therefore it was a devolved executive (in other words, a government) and legislature for Wales.  It was now, however, a legislature in the traditional sense of that word given its limited legislative powers.

GOWA 1998 enabled executive functions (in other words, powers and duties) in areas such as agriculture, culture, economic development, education, health, housing, local government, social services and planning to be transferred from the UK Government, so that the National Assembly would become responsible for carrying those out in respect of Wales.

Further legislation (known as Transfer of Functions Orders) was then made under GOWA 1998 to transfer to the National Assembly a large number of executive functions in the areas mentioned above. These functions included making regulations, rules and orders, and giving financial assistance. The principal transfer of functions order was the National Assembly for Wales (Transfer of Functions) Order 1999.

GOWA 1998 also established the Auditor General for Wales and the Welsh Administration Ombudsman (the latter role is now undertaken by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales).

GOWA 1998 also gave the National Assembly the power to reorganise certain Welsh public bodies. For example, the Welsh Development Agency was abolished, and its functions transferred to the National Assembly, by an order made by the National Assembly under GOWA 1998.

Most of GOWA 1998 was repealed by The Government of Wales Act 2006, although some provisions remain in force for technical reasons.

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