Welsh devolution referendum, 2011

Welsh devolution referendum, 2011
Welsh devolution referendum, 2011
Do you want the Assembly now to be able to make laws on all matters in the 20 subject areas it has powers for?
Election results
Yes or no Votes Percentage
Yes check.svg Yes 517,132 63.49%
X mark.svg No 297,380 36.51%
Valid votes 814,512 99.86%
Invalid or blank votes 1,116 0.14%
Total votes 815,628 100.00%
Voter turnout 35.63%
Electorate 2,289,044
Election results by unitary authorities
2011 Welsh Devolution Referendum results map.PNG
Referendum held: 3 March 2011

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A referendum on extending the law-making powers of the National Assembly for Wales was held in Wales on 3 March 2011. The referendum asked the question: "Do you want the Assembly now to be able to make laws on all matters in the 20 subject areas it has powers for?"

If a majority voted 'yes', the Assembly would then able to make laws, known as Acts of the Assembly, on all matters in the subject areas, without needing the UK Parliament's agreement. If a majority voted 'no', the arrangements at the time of the referendum would have continued - that is, in each devolved area, the Assembly would be able to make its own laws on some matters, but not others. To make laws on any of these other matters, the Assembly would have had to ask the UK Parliament to transfer the powers to it.[1][2]

The results of the referendum were announced on 4 March 2011. Overall, 63.49% voted 'yes', and 36.51% voted 'no'. In 21 of 22 local authorities the vote was 'yes', with the exception being Monmouthshire by a slim majority. The overall turnout was 35.2%. First Minister Carwyn Jones, welcoming the result, said: "Today an old nation came of age."



In the One Wales coalition agreement on 27 June 2007 the Wales Labour Party and Plaid Cymru made the commitment "to proceed to a successful outcome of a referendum for full law-making powers under Part IV of the Government of Wales Act 2006 as soon as practicable, at or before the end of the Assembly term". The two parties agreed "in good faith to campaign for a successful outcome to such a referendum" and to set up an All-Wales Convention to prepare for such a successful outcome.[3][4]

On 27 October 2007 the then First Minister Rhodri Morgan and the Deputy First Minster Ieuan Wyn Jones appointed Sir Emyr Jones Parry, the recently retired Permanent Representatives from Britain to the United Nations to head the convention.[5] Sir Emyr stated on 22 November 2007 that he would like to begin to work as soon as possible and hoped to have the report ready by 2009 at the latest.[6]

The All Wales Convention reported to the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister on 18 November 2009. It reported that a "yes" vote would be obtainable but not guaranteed. An opinion poll for the convention had found that 47% would vote Yes, and 37% would vote No. The report suggested that the Assembly needed to decide before June 2010 whether to trigger a referendum if the vote was to be held before the next Assembly elections.[7]

On 2 February 2010 the new First Minister Carwyn Jones, who had succeeded Rhodri Morgan on 9 December 2009, confirmed that a trigger vote would be held on 9 February on whether the Assembly should request a referendum on full law making powers.[8] The Welsh Liberal Democrats and Welsh Conservative Party stated they did not want the referendum to be held on the same day as the 2011 Assembly elections and would abstain from voting to trigger the referendum if this date was not ruled out.[8] The trigger vote was held in the Assembly on Tuesday 9 February 2010, and was approved unanimously across all parties, with 53 out of the 60 AMs voting for it. Under the Government of Wales Act 2006 the First Minister was required to send a letter within two weeks to the Welsh Secretary Peter Hain, who would than have 120 days to lay a draft order for a referendum before Parliament.[9] It was expected that the referendum date would not be set until after the general election.

On 15 June 2010 Cheryl Gillan, the new Welsh Secretary in the Conservative--Liberal Democrat coalition government at Westminster, announced that the referendum would probably be held between January and March 2011.[10] Others proposed that it should be held on 5 May 2011, together with both the Assembly elections and the AV referendum.[11] It was agreed that the referendum be held on 3 March 2011, after representations to the Welsh Secretary from the Welsh Government.[12]

Referendum question

Draft question

The draft referendum question submitted by the Welsh Secretary to the Electoral Commission on 23 June 2010 was:

At present, the National Assembly for Wales (the Assembly) has powers to make laws for Wales on some subjects within devolved areas. Devolved areas include health, education, social services, local government and environment. The Assembly can gain further powers to make laws in devolved areas with the agreement of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (Parliament) on a subject by subject basis.

If most people vote 'yes' in this referendum, the Assembly will gain powers to pass laws on all subjects in the devolved areas.

If most people vote 'no', then the present arrangements, which transfer that law-making power bit by bit, with the agreement of Parliament each time, will continue.

Do you agree that the Assembly should now have powers to pass laws on all subjects in the devolved areas without needing the agreement of Parliament first?[13]

This wording was, however, criticised by the Welsh Government.[14]

Revised question

A revised question was released in September 2010:[15]

The National Assembly for Wales - what happens at the moment

The Assembly has powers to make laws on 20 subject areas, such as agriculture, education, the environment, health, housing, local government.

In each subject area, the Assembly can make laws on some matters, but not others. To make laws on any of these other matters, the assembly must ask the UK Parliament for its agreement. The UK Parliament then decides each time whether or not the assembly can make these laws.

The Assembly cannot make laws on subject areas such as defence, tax or welfare benefits, whatever the result of this vote.

If most voters vote 'yes' - the Assembly will be able to make laws on all matters in the 20 subject areas it has powers for, without needing the UK Parliament's agreement.

If most voters vote 'no' - what happens at the moment will continue.

Do you want the Assembly now to be able to make laws on all matters in the 20 subject areas it has powers for?

Opinion polls and comments

In 2007, one poll suggested that 47% might say Yes in a referendum vote, with 44% against.[16] A poll in February 2008 saw 49% in favour of a full law-making parliament and 41% against.[17] On 3 February 2010 the Western Mail endorsed the Yes campaign.[18] A BBC poll released on 1 March 2010 (St. David's Day) found that support had risen for full law making powers, up to 56%, with 35% against, although Nick Bourne the leader of the Welsh Conservative Party (who supported a yes vote) was sceptical of the poll results.[19]

A summary table of poll results in advance of the referendum is set out below.

Date Organisation Yes No Wouldn't Vote Don't Know
25-28 February 2011 Research and Marketing Group 49% 22% - 28%
21-23 February 2011 YouGov (certain to vote) 67% 33% - -
24-26 January 2011 YouGov 46% 25% 8% 21%
20-22 December 2010 YouGov 48% 30% 8% 14%
25-28 November 2010 ICM (Certain to vote) 70% 30% - -
25-28 November 2010 ICM (All) 57% 24% - 18%
22-24 November 2010 YouGov 52% 29% 7% 13%
19-22 November 2010 Beaufort Research (Certain to vote) 73% 23% - 4%
19-22 November 2010 Beaufort Research (all) 60% 28% - 13%
25-27 October 2010 YouGov 49% 30% 5% 15%
27 - 29 September 2010 YouGov 48% 32% 6% 15%
26 - 28 July 2010 YouGov 48% 34% 5% 14%


Referendum result announced at the Senedd

Overall result

Confirmed result: Yes[20]

The results were counted and announced on 4 March 2011, locally initially and then formally confirmed at the Senedd.

In 21 of 22 unitary authorities, the vote was Yes. The only voting area to declare a No result was Monmouthshire, which was announced following a recount. The difference was only 320 votes. [21]

The overall result was:

Yes :
517,132 (63.49%)
No :
297,380 (36.51%)

Provisional turnout (as per Electoral Commission): 35.2%[22]

Votes counted: 814,512.[22]

Results by unitary authority

2011 Welsh devolution referendum results map.
Unitary authority Turnout Yes vote No vote
Anglesey 43.83% 64.77% 35.23%
Blaenau Gwent 32.44% 68.87% 31.13%
Bridgend 35.64% 68.11% 31.89%
Caerphilly 34.55% 64.35% 35.65%
Cardiff 35.16% 61.39% 38.61%
Carmarthenshire 44.36% 70.82% 29.18%
Ceredigion 44.07% 66.24% 33.76%
Conwy 33.79% 59.72% 40.28%
Denbighshire 34.47% 61.85% 38.15%
Flintshire 29.45% 62.06% 37.94%
Gwynedd 43.39% 76.03% 23.97%
Merthyr Tydfil 30.12% 68.86% 31.14%
Monmouthshire 35.83% 49.36% 50.64%
Neath Port Talbot 38.00% 73.00% 27.00%
Newport 27.90% 54.76% 45.24%
Pembrokeshire 38.73% 54.98% 45.02%
Powys 39.68% 51.64% 48.36%
Rhondda Cynon Taf 34.62% 70.71% 29.29%
Swansea 32.90% 63.21% 36.79%
Torfaen 33.82% 62.78% 37.22%
Vale of Glamorgan 40.10% 52.54% 47.46%
Wrexham 27.04% 64.09% 35.91%


Local area analysis


Highest: Carmarthenshire - 44.36%

Lowest: Wrexham - 27.04%


Highest % of Yes Vote: Gwynedd - 76.03%

Highest % of No Vote: Monmouthshire - 50.64%

Reactions to the result

First Minister Carwyn Jones said: "Today an old nation came of age."[23]

Deputy First Minister and Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones said it marked "the beginning of a new era of Welsh devolution - the decade to deliver for Wales.... To demand respect, you must first display self respect. Today we have done just that, and the rest of the world can now sit up and take notice of the fact that our small nation, here on the western edge of the continent of Europe, has demonstrated pride in who we are, and what we all stand for."[23]

Conservative Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan said there had been concern over turnout, but called it "a good day for Wales".[23] She said that the UK government reinforced its commitment to make the arrangements work effectively.

Roger Lewis, chairman of the Yes for Wales campaign, said he was delighted, adding: "It is clear, the people of Wales have spoken." Rachel Banner, of the No campaign, said it marked a "turning point for our nation".[23]

See also


  1. ^ What is the referendum about? from the [[Electoral Commission (United Kingdom)|]]
  2. ^ BBC Video with information on method of Welsh law making in areas of power that are not devolved.
  3. ^ "UK | Wales | Details of Labour--Plaid agreement". BBC News. 2007-06-27. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/6246428.stm. Retrieved 2010-08-12. 
  4. ^ "One Wales: A progressive agenda for the government of Wales". BBC News. 2007-06-27. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/27_06_07_onewales.pdf. Retrieved 2010-08-12. 
  5. ^ "UK | Wales | Diplomat heads law-making group". BBC News. 2007-10-23. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/7057919.stm. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  6. ^ Guto Thomas (2007-11-22). "UK | UK Politics | Wales politics | Law-making report by end of 2009". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/wales/7107616.stm. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  7. ^ "More powers for Wales says report". BBC News. 2009-11-18. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/wales_politics/8350333.stm. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  8. ^ a b Hannaby, Mark (2010-02-02). "Welsh assembly to vote to trigger power referendum". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/wales_politics/8492081.stm. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  9. ^ "AMs vote in favour of Welsh assembly powers referendum". BBC News. 2010-02-10. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/wales_politics/8506973.stm. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  10. ^ "Daily Post North Wales - News - North Wales News - Welsh referendum on more powers in 2011 says Cheryl Gillan". Dailypost.co.uk. http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/2010/06/16/welsh-referendum-on-more-powers-in-2011-says-cheryl-gillan-55578-26660193/. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  11. ^ "Call for assembly powers poll on day of two other votes". BBC News. 11 July 2010. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10591778. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  12. ^ BBC News, Referendum on more Welsh powers set for 3 March, 2011, 21 September 2011
  13. ^ "The Referendum: Your questions answered". National Assembly for Wales Commission. 2010-08-05. http://www.assemblywales.org/newreferendum_qa_english.pdf. Retrieved 2010-08-12. 
  14. ^ Roberts, Carl (2010-06-24). "Row over draft referendum question on assembly powers". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/wales/wales_politics/10406413.stm. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  15. ^ "Referendum on more Welsh powers set for 3 March 2011". BBC News. 21 September 2010. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-11382649. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  16. ^ Guto Thomas, Wales referendum: Has the nation warmed to devolution?, BBC News, 2 March 2011
  17. ^ "Welsh Open to Full Law-Making Parliament: Angus Reid Global Monitor". Angus-reid.com. http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/view/30104/welsh_open_to_full_law_making_parliament. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  18. ^ http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/welsh-politics/welsh-politics-news/2011/02/03/yes-vote-is-sensible-option-91466-28106140/
  19. ^ Powys, Betsan (2010-03-01). "'Support grows' for full law-making Wales assembly". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/wales_politics/8541797.stm. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  20. ^ BBC News, Wales says Yes in referendum vote, BBC News, 3 March 2011
  21. ^ Electoral Commission, Authorities | Monmouthshire, Electoral Commission, 3 March 2011
  22. ^ a b c Electoral Commission, About My Vote, Electoral Commission, 3 March 2011
  23. ^ a b c d BBC News, Wales says Yes in referendum vote, 4 March 2011

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