Wales Office

Wales Office
Welsh: Swyddfa Cymru

Royal Badge of Wales (Red Dragon version)
Department overview
Formed 1999[1]
Preceding Department
Jurisdiction Wales
Headquarters 1 Caspian Point, Caspian Way, Cardiff, CF10 4DQ & Gwydyr House, Whitehall, London, SW1A 2NP
Annual budget £6 million for 2011–12 [2]
Minister responsible
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The Wales Office is a United Kingdom government department. It replaced the former Welsh Office, which had extensive responsibility for governing Wales prior to Welsh devolution in 1999.[1]


In the past it has been called "Wales' voice in Westminster and Westminster's voice in Wales". However, it is significantly less powerful since the Government of Wales Act 2006: it is primarily responsible for carrying out the few functions remaining with the Secretary of State for Wales that have not been transferred already to the National Assembly for Wales; and for securing funds for Wales as part of the annual budgetary settlement.[3]

The Secretary of State for Wales has overall responsibility for the office but it is located administratively within the Ministry of Justice (until 2007, the Department for Constitutional Affairs).


The Wales Office ministers are as follows:[4]

Minister Image Rank Portfolio
Alun Cairns MP Secretary of State Overall strategic direction, constitutional and electoral issues, Welsh budget, infrastructure, foreign affairs, health, localism, justice
Guto Bebb MP Parliamentary-Under Secretary of State Law and order, immigration, education, transport, telecommunications, welfare, broadcasting, Welsh language
Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Parliamentary-Under Secretary of State Energy, environment, rural affairs, defence, heritage, culture, tourism, local government

Unlike Scotland and Northern Ireland, Wales does not have its own Law Officers of the Crown; it is part of the England and Wales legal jurisdiction. The Attorney General for England and Wales therefore advises the United Kingdom Government on its law.[5] His deputy is the Solicitor General for England and Wales.


Wales Office, Gwydyr House in Whitehall, London

Following the 'yes' vote in the 2011 referendum on giving the Assembly direct law-making powers, some politicians in Wales, particularly from Plaid Cymru, have called for the abolition of the Wales Office.[6] Lord Elis-Thomas, Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales said:

I think it would be very useful to [wind up the Wales Office] before we start the next Assembly; that would be the logical time because that is the time when our new powers will become fully operational. The relationship then would be inter-governmental and inter-parliamentary. In other words it would be between the National Assembly and the Parliament at Westminster, where there are issues on laws which are made in Westminster which impinge on Wales and vice versa.[7]

However, Lord Elis-Thomas was accused of following a "separatist agenda" by the Conservative Cheryl Gillan, then Secretary of State for Wales. She was supported by her Labour predecessor Peter Hain, who declared that Wales "still needs a voice around the Cabinet in Westminster".[6]


  1. 1 2 History – Retrieved 08 March 2012
  2. Spending Review 2010 (PDF). London: HM Treasury. 2010. p. 88. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
  3. About the Wales Office – Last modified 14 December 2010. Retrieved 08 March 2012
  4. "Our ministers". GOV.UK. Wales Office. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
  5. Cabinet Office List of Government Departments and Ministers: Attorney General's Office
  6. 1 2 Presiding officer suggests dropping Welsh secretary – BBC News. Published 07 March 2011. Retrieved 08 March 2012
  7. Wales Office 'hard to justify' says Plaid Cymru leader – BBC News. Published 07 March 2011. Retrieved 08 March 2012
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