By appointment: first minister to advise the Queen


The Queen has a new adviser. Step forward Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales, who has been promoted in a reshuffle of regal responsibilities among politicians.

The first minister will succeed Secretary of State for Wales, David Jones, in advising the Queen "in respect of the exercise of her functions in relation to Wales".

The current convention is that the (Conservative*) secretary of state takes the advice of (Labour*) Welsh ministers in devolved areas before advising Her Majesty. (*What could possibly go wrong?)

These areas, according to the Deputy Prime Minister, are:

The appointment of the chief inspector and inspectors of education and training in Wales under section 19 of the Education Act 2005;

Functions in relation to further and higher education in Wales under the Education Reform Act 1988; and

The appointment of fire inspectors in Wales under section 28 of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004.

These are the formal responsibilites - don't expect Carwyn Jones and Her Majesty to have detailed negotiations about the merits of fire inspectors.

The deal lasts so long as the first minister is a member of the privy council. According to Nick Clegg, the secretary of state "will continue to advise Her Majesty in respect of her other functions in relation to Wales.

A Wales Office spokesperson welcomed the announcement. She said: "This mirrors the situation in Scotland, where the Scottish first minister advises Her Majesty on devolved matters. This is an entirely sensible change, and follows on from the further powers the assembly assumed following the referendum last year."

"The secretary of state for Wales will continue to advise Her Majesty on non-devolved privy council matters in relation to Wales."

The announcement covers formal relations between the sovereign and the two governments. The Prince of Wales takes a regular interest in Welsh issues and is known for his handwritten letters to ministers.

Seven UK government departments - the Wales Office is not one of them - are currently fighting a tribunal ruling to disclose under the Freedom of Information Act letters sent by the prince

David Cornock Article written by David Cornock David Cornock Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

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