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The First Minister (Welsh: 'Prif Weinidog') is the leader of the Welsh Assembly Government, Wales' devolved administration, which was established in 1999. When initially set up under the Government of Wales Act 1998, the title was known as First Secretary (in Welsh Prif Ysgrifennydd), as Wales was given a less powerful assembly and executive than Northern Ireland and Scotland. This was also attributed to the fact that the Welsh term for First Minister, Prif Weinidog, also translates as Prime Minister, so a different title was chosen to avoid confusion with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

The official office of the First Minister is in Ty Hywel, previously known as Crickhowell House, and the Senedd in Cardiff Bay, however, an office is also kept at the Welsh Assembly Government building in Cathays Park.



Under the arrangements in the Government of Wales Act, 1998, executive functions are conferred on the National Assembly for Wales and then separately delegated to the First Minister and to other Cabinet Ministers and staff as appropriate.

Until the Government of Wales Act 2006 these were delegated powers of the UK government. Since that Act came into force in May 2007 however the First Minister is appointed by the monarch and will represent the Crown in Wales. Whilst this will have little practical difference it is a huge symbolic shift as for the first time in centuries the head of government in Wales will be appointed by the Crown on the advice of the elected representatives of the Welsh people. This makes Wales equal in status, in this respect, to Scotland and Northern Ireland within the devolved structures of the UK, although it still does not yet make its own Acts of Parliament.

This change of title occurred after the Liberal Democrats formed a coalition government with Labour in the Welsh Assembly in October 2000. The Government of Wales Bill (2006) allowed for the post to be officially known as the First Minister and also made the First Minister, Keeper of the Welsh Seal.

The First Minister will subsequently appoint the Welsh Ministers, Deputy Welsh Ministers and the Counsel General for Wales (collectively known as the Welsh Assembly Government), with the approval of Her Majesty.

Following separation between the legislative and the executive on the enactment of the Government of Wales Act 2006 (upon appointment of the First Minister, 25 May 2007), the Welsh Ministers will exercise functions in their own right and further transfers of executive functions from the UK Government will be made directly to the Welsh Ministers (with their consent) by an Order in Council approved by Parliament.

The First Minister is Accountable/Responsible for:

  • Exercise of functions by the Cabinet of the Welsh Assembly Government.
  • Policy development and coordination of policy.
  • The relationships with the rest of the United Kingdom, Europe and Wales Abroad.
  • Staffing/Civil Service

List of First Ministers
(originally the office of First Secretary)

Name Picture In office Political party Government
Alun Edward Michael AlunMichael.JPG 12 May 1999 - 9 February 2000 Labour Labour
Hywel Rhodri Morgan Rhodri Morgan.jpg 9 February 2000 - 9 December 2009 Labour Labour, Labour/Liberal Democrat Coalition, Labour/Plaid Cymru Coalition
Carwyn Jones since 9 December 2009 Labour Labour/Plaid Cymru Coalition

List of Deputy First Ministers

Name Picture In office Political party Government Office held in tandem with
Michael German Michael German.jpg 16 October 2000 - 8 May 2003
Acting: Jenny Randerson 6 July 2001 - 13 June 2002
Liberal Democrats Labour/Liberal Democrat Coalition Minister for Economic Development
Ieuan Wyn Jones Ieuan Wyn Jones.jpg since 11 July 2007 Plaid Cymru Labour/Plaid Cymru Coalition Minister for Economy and Transport

External links

  • [1] About the Office of the First Minister.


  • Dates are from World Statesmen and various BBC News Online articles from 1999 to 2003.

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