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Culture - what is devolved?

Senedd Cymru has power to legislate in relation to:

  • arts and crafts;
  • museums and galleries;
  • libraries;
  • archives and historical records; and
  • cultural activities and projects.

However certain matters in relation to culture are reserved and are not within Senedd Cymru's legislative competence. These are;

  • broadcasting and other media;
  • the British Broadcasting Corporation;
  • public lending rights;
  • government indemnities for objects on loan and payments to His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs in respect of property accepted in satisfaction of tax and the disposal of such property.

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 are within the Senedd’s legislative competence. Senedd Cymru does not have legislative competence, for example, to pass laws on intellectual property or on the regulation of charities (these are reservations in Schedule 7A to the Government of Wales Act 2006). To some extent this impacts on the extent to which Senedd Cymru 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 Senedd Cymru.

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 for Wales 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 and this included a number of the functions to make subordinate legislation in the Acts which existed at that time. From then on the (then) National Assembly exercised the transferred powers to make subordinate legislation for Wales until 2007. At this point the powers 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 which need to be considered. 

Statutory powers

The main Acts governing art and culture which give powers to the Welsh Ministers are:

The Welsh Ministers also have a power under the Government of Wales Act 2006 to do anything which they consider appropriate to support certain aspects of culture.


Key culture legislation
List of key primary and subordinate legislation
Published on
Last updated
12 September 2022