Press play for RNIB audio presentation
Or, download mp3 (2.69MB)
This building was opened in 2006 to provide a modern debating chamber for the National Assembly for Wales. It was designed by the renowned architect Richard Rogers, and also features three committee rooms. A public gallery above the chamber enables members of the public to watch Assembly Members during plenary sessions. An unusual feature of the interior is the undulating ceiling of western red cedar.
The National Assembly for Wales was formed in 1999 as a consequence of the referendum on devolution held in 1997. The last time a form of Welsh parliament had been convened was in Machynlleth in 1404, by rebel leader Owain Glyndŵr.
King Henry VIII passed a law in 1536 (later dubbed the “Act of Union”) which brought the governance and laws of Wales under those of England, with Welsh MPs sitting in Parliament. In the 19th century, radical liberals began to propagate ideas about Wales as a political entity. In 1907 a Welsh department was created within the Board of Education, followed by similar provision for health, housing and local government. The Awakening of Wales, a painter's response to this trend, is in Royal Caernarfon Town Council's art collection.
In 1964, the first Secretary of State for Wales was appointed. He sat in the UK Cabinet and, through the Welsh Office, managed government spending on housing, roads, the Welsh language, planning and local government. Further roles were later added. The Welsh Office had an annual budget of £7bn by 1997, when the Welsh public voted by a narrow margin to bring the Welsh Office’s functions under the control of an elected Assembly.
In May 1999, the first Assembly elections returned 60 AMs, 40 representing constituencies with the same boundaries as Westminster constituencies. The remaining 20 represented five regional constituencies and were elected through the Additional Member System, which aims to allocate Assembly seats in proportion to the votes cast for each main party.
From 1999 until the Senedd opened, the Assembly’s plenary sessions were held in Crickhowell House (now behind the Senedd), former home of the Welsh Health Common Services Authority. Renamed Tŷ Hywel, it now provides offices for AMs, their staff and civil servants.
Postcode: CF99 1NA
Thanks to RNIB for the audio presentation of this page