Assembly rejects Welsh-only Senedd Cymru name

Image caption,
Assembly members also passed a plan to rename themselves as Members of the Senedd

An attempt to give the Welsh Assembly the new Welsh-only official title Senedd Cymru has been rejected by AMs.

It means the proposal, backed by the Welsh Government, to call the institution both Senedd Cymru and Welsh Parliament, stands.

Senedd Cymru was proposed by Ynys Mon Plaid Cymru AM Rhun ap Iorwerth but it was defeated by 39 votes to 16.

AMs also confirmed that they would change their title to Members of the Senedd, or Aelodau o'r Senedd.

Senedd is currently the name of the building in Cardiff Bay which houses the assembly chamber.

On Saturday around 100 people joined a protest backing the name Senedd, after more than 30 famous names - including actor Michael Sheen, singer Cerys Matthews and rugby referee Nigel Owens - signed a letter to AMs calling on them to Welsh-only name.

On Wednesday, Mr ap Iorwerth pleaded with the Welsh Government, made up of Labour AMs and one Liberal Democrat, to allow ministers to be given a free vote on the name.

"Senedd Cymru is Wales' Parliament," he said.

"We sing our national anthem in Welsh not to exclude anyone, but to include everyone, in a celebration of our Welsh nation in a way no-one else does theirs."

Image caption,
Rhun ap Iorwerth said ministers had missed a chance to express confidence in Wales' heritage and future

Backing the name Senedd Cymru, Swansea East Labour AM Mike Hedges said it was "best to give it a name it's going to be called".

"The word Senedd is the word that's going to be used," he said.

He added: "In terms of bilingualism in Wales, I've never seen the word eisteddfod ever translated.

"People use the word eisteddfod although it happens to be a Welsh word."

Conservative AM David Melding said his group was convinced that a bilingual name for the institution was needed in the legislation "because the consultation to the bill produced an emphatic response - over 70% - in favour of a bilingual name".

Image caption,
Protestors gathered on the steps of the assembly building in Cardiff Bay on Saturday

The Welsh Government's top legal adviser, Counsel General Jeremy Miles, said: "I am aware of the view that having an English name as well as a Welsh name for this institution is felt by some to undermine the use of the term Senedd and also to undermine the use of the Welsh language.

"I would simply observe that the institution currently has a statutory name in Welsh and in English now, neither of which have prevented the growing use of the term Senedd.

"With the best will in the world, I'm not persuaded that the challenge that we have set ourselves of achieving a million Welsh speakers by 2050 will be impacted by the existence of a statutory term in English for this institution in future."

The bill also includes plans for 16 and 17-year-olds and foreign nationals resident in Wales to vote in assembly elections.

Assembly members are expected to have a final vote on the bill in the coming weeks.