Helping you understand Welsh law

What is devolved?

Culture is a devolved topic. The National Assembly has power to legislate in relation to arts and crafts; museums and galleries; libraries; archives and historical records; and cultural activities and projects. This competence is subject to a number of exceptions including: public lending rights; broadcasting; classification of films and video recordings; government indemnities for objects on loan and payments to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs in respect of property accepted in satisfaction of tax, apart from property in which there is a Welsh national interest. 

The current laws of the UK governing cultural objects and institutions are dispersed across a number of legal areas including criminal law, charity law, property law, international law, art law, intellectual property law and media law.  Not all aspects of these legal areas have been devolved to the National Assembly. The National Assembly does not have legislative competence, for example, to pass laws on intellectual property or on the regulation of charities (these are exceptions under paragraph 4 of Part 1 of Schedule 7 to the Government of Wales Act 2006). To some extent this impacts on the extent to which the National Assembly can legislate to change the existing laws which affect culture.

The core of the law in this subject is to be found in primary legislation (or ‘statutes’) made by either the UK Parliament or the National Assembly.

There is a large amount of subordinate legislation made under these Acts (such as orders, regulations and schemes).  Before the devolution of power to the National Assembly in 1999, subordinate legislation was made either on an England and Wales basis or separately for Wales by the Secretary of State for Wales.  A number of these pre-devolution instruments remain in force.  The functions of the Secretary of State for Wales were transferred to the National Assembly for Wales in 1999 (SI 1999/672) and this included a number of the functions to make subordinate legislation in the Acts which existed at that time.   From then on the National Assembly exercised the transferred powers to make subordinate legislation for Wales until 2007 when the powers to make subordinate legislation were further transferred to the Welsh Ministers on the coming into force of the Government of Wales Act 2006.

As well as domestic legislation there are a number of international instruments and EU Regulations, Directives and Conventions.  These are also listed under ‘key legislation’.

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