Wales politics

Tensions emerge over renaming Welsh Assembly the Senedd

Elin Jones
Image caption Elin Jones says the formal name Senedd will establish itself over time

A law renaming the assembly the Senedd will include an English explanation of the word's meaning, the institution's presiding officer has said.

BBC Wales understands some AMs were unhappy with Elin Jones's plan to give the institution a Welsh-only name.

Ms Jones, who is in charge of assembly day-to-day business, said most AMs backed Senedd name, meaning parliament.

Welsh language campaigners accused her of "opening the door on giving the institution a de facto bilingual name".

However the Conservatives said a "fully bilingual name" was what they wanted, and the assembly should become "Senedd Cymru/ Welsh Parliament".

A bill to rename the institution and cut the voting age to 16 in assembly elections is expected in the next couple of weeks.

Last November Ms Jones told AMs she had decided the assembly would be given the "monolingual name 'Senedd' and that members will be referred to as 'Aelodau'r Senedd/Members of the Senedd'".

Some assembly members, including most Conservatives, were opposed to the decision, BBC Wales has been told. One said the plan had been "watered down".

An assembly source said there had been a "compromise".

In an interview with BBC's Sunday Politics Wales programme, Ms Jones said the name Senedd "seems to me to have the greatest support" among AMs.

"Of course, we are a Welsh parliament, we are a Senedd now, and we do need to call ourselves that," she said.

"Formally this institution will be called the Senedd, if the members agree to that legislation.

"The legislation itself will describe the Senedd as the Welsh parliament.

"Members, people in Wales, people outside of Wales who don't speak Welsh will of course be able to use the terms Senedd and hopefully that will become more familiar to more people.

"But of course it needs to be described as the Welsh parliament because that is of more immediate understanding to those people who don't speak Welsh.

"But over time the formal name will establish itself."

Image caption Elin Jones opening assembly proceedings on Tuesday

Ms Jones compared the new title to the Dail - Ireland's equivalent to the House of Commons.

"Formally we hope to be known as the Senedd once the legislation is passed," she said.

Asked why the English description was being included, she said: "I don't want people to feel unfamiliar with what this institution does just because we've given it a Welsh-only name."

But Osian Rhys, chair of Welsh language campaign group Cymdeithas yr Iaith, said Ms Jones appeared to be "opening the door on giving the institution a de facto bilingual name".

"Senedd is a name that the general public understands and supports, which is already used widely by Welsh speakers and non-Welsh speakers alike," he said.

"We call on Elin Jones to ensure that an English description does not appear in the legislation, thereby ensuring that the Senedd will have one name and brand that we can all use."

But the Tory leader in Cardiff Bay, Paul Davies, said his party "supports a fully bilingual name for the assembly" and "we believe that it should be renamed Senedd Cymru/Welsh Parliament".

"We are adamant as a group that, in the interests of full transparency, we should adhere to the original agreement made by all parties - in making the name understandable for both Welsh and English speakers."

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