Penarth councillors are being consulted on what catchy new name they can come up with for what’s currently called the “National Assembly for Wales”.
The Assembly Commission has now issued a consultation paper called “changing the name of the National Assembly for Wales” claiming that the Assembly is different now from what it was when it was set up in 1999 and should now be called a “parliament”...or something other than an “assembly” .
The Welsh Assembly building itself is called “Y Senedd“ ( Welsh for “Parliament“) – but this monicker does not apply to the institution itself – which is still called “The National Assembly for Wales” . (i.e. not even “The National Assembly of Wales”)
The Speaker – or “Llywydd” of the National Assembly for Wales, Elin Jones, admits that “the people of Wales do not currently fully understand the role and powers of the National Assembly for Wales”.
She says Assembly members agreed this year that “the Assembly should change its name to reflect its constitutional status as a national parliament”. [PDN Note: It’s actually nothing of the kind]
The Assembly has suggested three snappy alternative names for itself ( a) “Parliament of Wales Senedd Cymru”, (b) “Senedd” or (c) “Welsh Parliament Senedd Cymru”
[ PDN Note: The word “Senedd” is a concocted Welsh version of the Middle-English word “Senate” , which comes from the Latin “Senatus” , which comes from the word “Senex”, which means “old-man” or “elder” (as in “senile“)]
In its quest to find a new name for itself, the National Assembly has now invited suggestions from local authorities – including Penarth Town Council – and the matter has now come before the council’s Policy and Resources Committee .
The Town Clerk Emma Boylen suggested the work of coming up with a new name be delegated to a so-called “Task and Finish” sub-committee of Penarth councillors. The cost of changing the name, she said, was being officially estimated at between £40,000 and £150,000.
Cllr Philip Rapier (Labour St Augustines) said “I think it’s an absolute no brainer really that it needs to be changed.” Cllr Rapier confessed to watching First Minister’s Questions on daytime tv and said the assembly “behaves like a Parliament, they [ the AMs] act like Parliamentarians to their credit on all sides. Somewhat delphically he added “I’m not sure about recent additions – nothing to do with the ladies and gentlemen on our left [referring to the bloc of four Conservative councillors] but we must welcome them into the democratic family.”
Cllr Rapier went on to say “I don’t think it does Wales any credit to contuinue with the presetn name”
Cllr Mark Wilson (Labour Stanwell) said “In the interests of sustainability and future generations – if they run out of paper then they can call themselves whatever, but until they run out of paper they should keep their name as it is. It would save money” . He did not want to see new stationery and business cards being printed whilst there were still stocks bearing the existing name. Cllr Wilson said “I don’t think Wales is the wealthiest country in the world . I’m quite happy and content for the name [ of the Assembly] to remain as it is. “
Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell) was he surprised that Cllr Rapier had not used his thespian instinct to talk about roses by other names . He said “Who the hell cares what it’s called as long as it does its job properly? …Personally I don’t care what it’s called”.
Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward) said he had once worked for a government department which changed its name four times – each change incurring a considerable amount of waste paper. “We just had to bin the lot” – he said. Cllr Williams says the decision was up to the public – they call it the Assembly or Senedd . “Why bother to change it when it incurs tremendous cost . If it’s not broken why do you fix it”.
Cllr Tracey Alexander ( Labour Cornerswell) thought the money would be better spent in Penarth . She said “wouldn’t it be nice if they spent money on our budgets instead”.
Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward) “The real issue is that the Assembly itself clearly doesn’t have confidence in its own being. Any organisation that wants to change its name – for the third time in 16-17 years – doesn’t feel it has the confidence of the public .” Changing the name alone was not enough to establish confidence in a organisation – You don’t establish than confidence by your actions, what you do , what you undertake and what you actually achieve for the people of Wales” He agreed with Cllr Wilson that any change would involve huge cost and that money would be “far better put into use in places like Penarth where we would make good use of the money”.
At the conclusion of the discussion Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines) – in the chair – said the council was only required to “tick things” on the consultation paper but did not reveal exactly what name Penarth Council would propose for the Assembly.