Don’t call it the Senydd – 5 July 2016

Oct 20, 2016 | Assembly Business | 0 comments

Plenary Tuesday 05 July 2016

4:49:00 to 5:02:23

If I started talking about the Senedd in the Wetherspoon’s pub in Canton, few people would know what I was on about.

Spoken Contribution – 18:21:20

What we have here with the National Assembly is, in some way, a bit of a marketing problem. Turnouts for the elections are considerably lower than those for the Westminster version. Politicians in Wales frequently observe that much of the Welsh electorate is often entirely ignorant as to which matters are devolved and which are not. The problem is essentially that the vast majority of people in Wales are not cocooned in a political bubble, as we tend to be here. We need to be careful before we change its name that we are not about to distance people even further from the political body that is supposed to serve them.

Let’s look first at the proposal that the Assembly should begin to call itself a parliament. Well, that’s fine, theoretically, once tax-raising powers take effect, but we haven’t got there yet. The position of UKIP is slightly complicated because many of us have opposed the consent for tax-raising powers without the promised referendum, as my colleague Mark Reckless explained earlier today.

But even casting the taxation issue aside and assuming that the powers were being implemented, would it not make sense to defer the renaming of the Assembly as a parliament until perhaps the beginning of the sixth term in 2021? I would suggest that this would be more cost-effective than doing so in midterm, and we would not be prejudging the outcome of the tax issue.

On to Bethan’s amendment, or amendments, she wants the term ‘Senedd’ to be used exclusively rather than ‘Parliament’, because she says this term is already widely understood and widely supported. Well, here we come back to the political bubble, or at least a cultural bubble. Bethan is from a Welsh-speaking background or a bilingual background, and in her social circle ‘Senedd’ may well be a well-used term. Alas, if I started talking about the ‘Senedd’ in the Wetherspoon’s pub—[Interruption.]

Spoken Contribution – 18:23:21

Okay, well, maybe it’s not even that, but that perhaps emphasises my point. If I started talking about the Senedd in the Wetherspoon’s pub in Canton, few people would know what I was on about.

Spoken Contribution – 18:23:34

Yes, sure.

Spoken Contribution – 18:24:05

Okay, thanks, Lee; can I carry on? Right, the cultural bubble. The point is we are in a political bubble—I’m in it myself now as well—but we have to remain in some contact with the real world out there. [Interruption.] Okay, thank you. In the Wetherspoon’s pub in Canton, few people would know what I was talking about if I started talking about the ‘Senedd’, and I can tell you that from experience.

Bethan has mentioned the Urdd, Chwarae Teg and Merched y Wawr. Yes, but the problem is most people outside the Welsh-speaking colony of Pontcanna—most people in Cardiff—don’t know what these things are. On that basis, I fear that we need to kick this term ‘Senedd’ into the long grass. By all means use it informally as the Welsh translation, but please not as the principal name of this political institution. Otherwise, we are further distancing the Assembly from the majority of the people of Wales. Thank you.