Helping you understand Welsh law

What is devolved?

Schedule 7 to the Government of Wales Act 2006 (GOWA 2006), confers the following legislative competence on the National Assembly for Wales:

Economic development

Economic regeneration and development, including social development of communities, reclamation of derelict land and improvement of the environment. Promotion of business and competitiveness.

Essentially, this competence relates to matters at the micro economic level since it is subject to a number of exceptions most notably in relation to fiscal, economic and monetary policy, regulation of anti-competitive practices and agreements, and consumer protection. There are also sector-specific exemptions which mean that the National Assembly cannot generally legislate on financial services and markets, telecommunications, postal services, electricity, coal and oil and gas.

Schedule 7 (as amended by the Wales Act 2014) also confers power on the National Assembly to legislate in relation to devolved taxes. The devolved taxes are taxation on disposals to landfill and taxation on transactions involving interests in land and the exception relating to fiscal, economic and monetary policy does not exclude legislation in relation to devolved taxation (see section 6 of the Wales Act 2014).

Executive functions

Section 60 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 confers wide powers on the Welsh Ministers "to do anything which they consider appropriate to achieve the promotion or improvement of the economic well-being of Wales".

The Welsh Development Agency Act 1975

The Welsh Development Agency was abolished on 1 April 2006 and the powers that were conferred on it under the Welsh Development Agency Act 1975 (WDAA 1975) were transferred to, and are now exercisable by, the Welsh Ministers. WDAA 1975 is the principal legal basis for intervention and support by the Welsh Government in relation to economic development. The Act confers a number of functions on the Welsh Ministers, to be exercised in relation to the following purposes:

  • to further the economic and social development of Wales or any part of Wales, and in that connection to provide, maintain or safeguard employment;
  • to promote efficiency in business and international competitiveness in Wales; and
  • to further the improvement of the environment in Wales (having regard to existing amenity).

To achieve those purposes, the functions of the Welsh Ministers are:

  • to promote Wales as a location for businesses;
  • to provide finance for persons carrying on or intending to carry on business;
  • to carry on industrial undertakings and to establish and carry on new businesses;
  • otherwise to promote or assist the establishment, growth, modernisation or development of business;
  • to make land available for development;
  • to provide sites, premises, services and facilities for businesses;
  • to manage sites and premises for businesses;
  • to bring derelict land into use or improve its appearance;
  • to undertake the development and redevelopment of the environment; and
  • to promote the private ownership of interests in businesses by the disposal of securities and other property.

In addition to these general functions, WDAA 1975 confers the following particular functions on the Welsh Ministers:

  • to acquire, hold and dispose of securities;
  • to form bodies corporate;
  • to form partnerships with other persons;
  • to make loans;
  • to guarantee obligations (arising out of loans or otherwise) incurred by other persons;
  • to make grants;
  • to act as agent for other persons;
  • to acquire and dispose of land, plant, machinery and equipment and other property;
  • to manage land, and to develop land and carry out works on land, and to maintain works or assist in their maintenance;
  • to make land, plant, machinery and equipment and other property available for use by other persons;
  • to provide advisory or other services or facilities in relation to any of their functions, or assist in their provision; and
  • to promote or assist in the promotion of publicity relating to any of their functions under WDAA 1975.

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