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Appointing a new First Minister

After ten years leading the Welsh Government The Rt. Hon. Rhodri Morgan AM has stepped down as First Minister and as the Welsh Labour leader.

Carwyn Jones AM was announced as the party’s new leader in Wales and is expected that he will be proposed for nomination as the new First Minister.

If you have been following proceedings building up to the First Minister stepping down and a successor appointed it would seem like a fairly straight forward and seamless process. But in fact it is a little more complicated than that and in this article we hope to explain exactly what will happen between one person stepping down and another taking on the role as First Minister for Wales.

On Tuesday evening 8 December it is anticipated that Mr Morgan will formally tender his resignation making Tuesday’s First Minister’s Questions his last (you can follow it on Senedd TV at 1.30pm). It is expected the First Minister will make a final statement at the end of the meeting before he resigns.

It’s a formality but the First Minister’s resignation must be accepted by Her Majesty the Queen and the Llywydd, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM, must notify the Assembly, under Standing Order 4.4, by laying notification in the Table Office.

The Llywydd will then make arrangements for the nomination procedure. It is anticipated that this process will be taken as the first item of Assembly Business in Plenary, following oral questions to Ministers, on Wednesday afternoon 9 December.

The Llywydd will invite nominations of Members for appointment as First Minister. Once the Assembly has elected a Member for appointment as First Minister, section 47(4) of the Act states that the Llywydd must send a letter to Her Majesty the Queen to recommend this person for appointment by Her Majesty.

The Llywydd will inform the Government of the Queen's acceptance of the nomination, which will allow the new First Minister to take the oath of office before the senior Presiding Judge of the Wales circuit, Mr Justice Nigel Davis.

Cabinet members and the office of Counsel General

One of the first jobs for the new First Minister is to appoint cabinet members and a new Counsel General, although it is actually the Queen’s duty to appoint a Counsel General on the recommendation of the First Minister. The Counsel General is the legal advisor to the cabinet and that person ceases to hold office if an Assembly Member is nominated for appointment as First Minister.

The Assembly must agree to the new First Minister's recommendation to Her Majesty of a person for appointment as Counsel General.

The membership of the Cabinet is a matter for the First Minister, the Assembly does not play a role here.Current Welsh Ministers remain in post until they are removed by the new First Minister or until they choose to resign. It is likely that a written statement will be issued by the Government announcing the new Cabinet, with an oral statement to Plenary in the new year.

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