Office of the Secretary of State for Wales

The Office of the Secretary of State for Wales, (Welsh: Swyddfa Ysgrifennydd Gwladol Cymru), informally known as the Wales Office, (Swyddfa Cymru), is a United Kingdom government department. It replaced the former Welsh Office, which had extensive responsibility for governing Wales prior to Welsh devolution in 1999.[1]

Office of the Secretary of State for Wales
Welsh: Swyddfa Ysgrifennydd Gwladol Cymru
Wales Office logo
Gwydyr House, Whitehall (geograph 5590927)

Gwydyr House in Whitehall, London
Department overview
Formed1 July 1999[1][2]
Preceding Department
Headquarters1 Caspian Point, Caspian Way, Cardiff, CF10 4DQ & Gwydyr House, Whitehall, London, SW1A 2NP
Employees52 (2016–2017)
Annual budget~£4.7 million for 2016–2017
Minister responsible


In the past it has been called "Wales' voice in Westminster and Westminster's voice in Wales". However, it is significantly less powerful since the Government of Wales Act 2006: it is primarily responsible for carrying out the few functions remaining with the Secretary of State for Wales that have not been transferred already to the National Assembly for Wales; and for securing funds for Wales as part of the annual budgetary settlement.[3]

The Secretary of State for Wales has overall responsibility for the office but it is located administratively within the Ministry of Justice (until 2007, the Department for Constitutional Affairs).


The ministers in the Office of the Secretary of State for Wales are as follows:[4][5]

Minister Image Rank Portfolio
The Rt Hon. Alun Cairns MP Alun Cairns 2016 Secretary of State Welsh Government and Assembly Liaison; Constitutional and Electoral issues; Economy, Business & Inward Investment; Exiting the EU; Infrastructure; Welsh Budget; Foreign Affairs; Steel; Swansea City Deal; Public Appointments; Royal Matters; Welsh Language
Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Official portrait of Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth crop 2 Parliamentary-Under Secretary of State Wales Office Business in the Lords; Mid-Wales Growth Deal; Education; Health; Law and Order, Immigration & Justice; local Government; Tourism, Heritage and; Culture; Welfare
Kevin Foster Official portrait of Kevin Foster crop 2 Parliamentary-Under Secretary of State North Wales Growth Deal; Defence; Energy; Broadcasting; Telecommunications; Connectivity

Unlike Scotland and Northern Ireland, Wales does not have its own Law Officers of the Crown; it is part of the England and Wales legal jurisdiction. The Attorney General for England and Wales therefore advises the United Kingdom Government on its law.[6] His deputy is the Solicitor General for England and Wales.


Following the 'yes' vote in the 2011 referendum on giving the Assembly direct law-making powers, some politicians in Wales, particularly from Plaid Cymru, have called for the abolition of the Wales Office.[7] Lord Elis-Thomas, Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales said:

I think it would be very useful to [wind up the Wales Office] before we start the next Assembly; that would be the logical time because that is the time when our new powers will become fully operational. The relationship then would be inter-governmental and inter-parliamentary. In other words it would be between the National Assembly and the Parliament at Westminster, where there are issues on laws which are made in Westminster which impinge on Wales and vice versa.[8]

However, Lord Elis-Thomas was accused of following a "separatist agenda" by the Conservative Cheryl Gillan, then Secretary of State for Wales. She was supported by her Labour predecessor Peter Hain, who declared that Wales "still needs a voice around the Cabinet in Westminster".[7]


  1. ^ a b History Archived 3 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine – Retrieved 8 March 2012
  2. ^ "SERVICE DELIVERY AGREEMENT 2000". Office of the Secretary of State for Wales. 2000. Archived from the original on 25 February 2001. Retrieved 4 February 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  3. ^ About the Wales Office – Last modified 14 December 2010. Retrieved 8 March 2012
  4. ^ "Our ministers". GOV.UK. Wales Office. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
  5. ^ "Her Majesty's Official Opposition". UK Parliament. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  6. ^ Cabinet Office List of Government Departments and Ministers: Attorney General's Office
  7. ^ a b Presiding officer suggests dropping Welsh secretary – BBC News. Published 7 March 2011. Retrieved 8 March 2012
  8. ^ Wales Office 'hard to justify' says Plaid Cymru leader – BBC News. Published 07 March 2011. Retrieved 08 March 2012

External links

Christopher Williams (Welsh artist)

Christopher David Williams (7 January 1873–1934) was a Welsh artist.

City status in the United Kingdom

City status in the United Kingdom is granted by the monarch of the United Kingdom to a select group of communities: as of 2014, there are 69 cities in the United Kingdom – 51 in England, six in Wales, seven in Scotland and five in Northern Ireland. The holding of city status gives a settlement no special rights. This appellation carries its own prestige and competition for the status is hard-fought.

The status does not apply automatically on the basis of any particular criteria, although in England and Wales it was traditionally given to towns with diocesan cathedrals. This association between having a cathedral and being called a city was established in the early 1540s when King Henry VIII founded dioceses (each having a cathedral in the see city) in six English towns and granted them city status by issuing letters patent.

City status in Ireland was granted to far fewer communities than in England and Wales, and there are only two pre–19th-century cities in present-day Northern Ireland. In Scotland, city status did not explicitly receive any recognition by the state until the 19th century. At that time, a revival of grants of city status took place, first in England, where the grants were accompanied by the establishment of new cathedrals, and later in Scotland and Ireland. In the 20th century, it was explicitly recognised that the status of city in England and Wales would no longer be bound to the presence of a cathedral, and grants made since have been awarded to communities on a variety of criteria, including population size.

The abolition of some corporate bodies as part of successive local government reforms, beginning with the Municipal Corporations (Ireland) Act 1840, has deprived some ancient cities of their status. However, letters patent have been issued for most of the affected cities to ensure the continuation or restoration of their status. At present, Rochester and Elgin are the only former cities in the United Kingdom. The name "City" does not, in itself, denote city status; it may be appended to place names for historic association (e.g. White City) or for marketing or disambiguation (e.g. Stratford City). A number of large towns (such as with over 200,000 residents) in the UK are bigger than some small cities, but cannot legitimately call themselves a city without the royal designation.

Executive agency

An executive agency is a part of a government department that is treated as managerially and budgetarily separate, to carry out some part of the executive functions of the United Kingdom government, Scottish Government, Welsh Government or Northern Ireland Executive. Executive agencies are "machinery of government" devices distinct both from non-ministerial government departments and non-departmental public bodies (or "quangos"), each of which enjoy a real legal and constitutional separation from ministerial control. The model was also applied in several other countries.

Guto Bebb

Guto ap Owain Bebb (born 9 October 1968) is a Welsh Conservative Party politician and former business consultant who has served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Aberconwy since the 2010 general election. He had previously unsuccessfully contested elections to both the Welsh Assembly and the House of Commons. He has served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Wales Office from 2016 to 2018, and as Minister for Defence Procurement at the Ministry of Defence from January 2018 until his resignation in July 2018.

Gwydyr House

Gwydyr House (Welsh: Tŷ Gwydyr) is a Grade II* listed mansion in Whitehall, and is the London headquarters of the Office of the Secretary of State for Wales. The house lies on the eastern side of the street, opposite Dover House.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, often referred to simply as the Welsh Office Minister is a junior ministerial post (of Parliamentary Under Secretary of State rank) in the United Kingdom government, supporting the Secretary of State for Wales.

Royal Badge of Wales

A Royal Badge for Wales was approved in May 2008. It is based on the arms borne by the thirteenth-century Welsh prince Llywelyn the Great (blazoned quarterly Or and gules, four lions passant guardant counterchanged), with the addition of St Edward's Crown atop a continuous scroll which, together with a wreath consisting of the plant emblems of the four countries of the United Kingdom, surrounds the shield. The motto which appears on the scroll, PLEIDIOL WYF I'M GWLAD ("I am true to my country"), is taken from the National Anthem of Wales and is also found on the Welsh designs for £1 coins minted from 1985 until 2000. The badge formerly appeared on the covers of Assembly Measures; since the 2011 referendum, it now appears on the cover of Acts passed by the National Assembly for Wales and its escutcheon, ribbon and motto are depicted on the Welsh Seal.

The current badge follows in a long line of heraldic devices representing Wales. Its predecessors have all been variations on either the Red Dragon, an ancient emblem revived by Henry VII, or the arms of Llywelyn. Whereas the arms of England, Scotland and Ireland are represented in the Royal Arms of the United Kingdom, Wales has no such representation due to it having been annexed and incorporated into the Kingdom of England; therefore Wales had no status as a nation within the Kingdom of England, and the succeeding United Kingdom. The device introduced in 2008 is accordingly a heraldic badge, rather than a coat of arms; Wales currently has no official coat of arms.

Secretary of State for Wales

Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Wales (Welsh: Ysgrifennydd Gwladol Cymru) is the principal minister of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom with responsibilities for Wales. He or she is a member of the cabinet and the head of the Wales Office. He or she is responsible for ensuring Welsh interests are taken into account by Her Majesty's Government, representing the government within Wales and overseeing the passing of legislation which is only for Wales. The current Secretary of State for Wales is Alun Cairns, following his appointment in 2016.

Welsh Dragon

The Welsh Dragon (Welsh: Y Ddraig Goch, meaning the red dragon, pronounced [ə ˈðraiɡ ˈɡoːχ]) appears on the national flag of Wales. The oldest recorded use of the dragon to symbolise Wales is in the Historia Brittonum, written around AD 829, but it is popularly supposed to have been the battle standard of King Arthur and other ancient Celtic leaders. Its association with these leaders along with other evidence from archaeology, literature, and documentary history led many to suppose that it evolved from an earlier Romano-British national symbol. During the reigns of the Tudor monarchs, the red dragon was used as a supporter in the English Crown's coat of arms. The red dragon is often seen as symbolising all things Welsh, and is used by many public and private institutions. These include the Welsh Government, Visit Wales, the dragon's tongue is in use with the Welsh Language Society and numerous local authorities including Blaenau Gwent, Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Swansea, and sports bodies, including the Sport Wales National Centre, the Football Association of Wales, Wrexham A.F.C., Newport Gwent Dragons, and London Welsh RFC. The Welsh Dragon is also one of The Queen's Beasts.

Welsh Office

The Welsh Office (Welsh: Swyddfa Gymreig) was a department in the Government of the United Kingdom with responsibilities for Wales. It was established in April 1965 to execute government policy in Wales, and was headed by the Secretary of State for Wales, a post which had been created in October 1964. It was disbanded on 1 July 1999 when most of its powers were transferred to the National Assembly for Wales, with some powers transferred to the Office of the Secretary of State for Wales (Welsh: Swyddfa Ysgrifennydd Gwladol Cymru).

The Welsh Office took over the responsibilities related to housing, local government and town and country planning, etc. for Wales which had previously been the responsibilities of several other government departments. Its responsibilities included Monmouthshire, which for some purposes had earlier been considered by some to lie within England.

Office of the Secretary of State for Wales
Secretary of State
Under-Secretary of State
Attorney General
Devolution in the United Kingdom
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