It's a UK government department that represents Wales in the UK Cabinet, with the Secretary of State for Wales, or Welsh Secretary, responsible for ensuring Welsh interests are considered by the government in Westminster.

The Welsh Secretary represents the UK government within Wales, while also overseeing the passing of legislation that is not devolved to the Senedd.

The Wales Office was previously known as the ‘Welsh Office’ which was established in 1965 to execute government policy in Wales, and was headed by the Secretary of State for Wales, a post which had been created ia year before.

The Welsh Office was disbanded in July 1999 when most of its powers were transferred to the National Assembly for Wales, now known as the Senedd.

The cabinet position of Secretary of State for Wales was retained as the head of a newly formed Wales Office.


In 2006, the Government of Wales Act delivered further powers to the Senedd, removing direct law-making powers from the Wales Office across 20 policy areas including health, transport and education.

Following a referendum in 2011, the Senedd took direct control of law-making responsibility for these 20 policy areas.

Today, the Secretary of State for Wales is a point of contact and the ‘Welsh face’ of the UK government.

The secretary of state will regularly answer questions about UK Government policy that impacts Wales from MPs in the UK Parliament.

Following the 2011 referendum, some Plaid Cymru politicians have called for the abolition of the office, a stance condemned by both the Conservatives and Labour.

The office is expected to take on more significance following Brexit as the UK Government makes policy decisions in areas that are devolved to the Senedd following the UK Internal Market Bill which both the Welsh and Scottish governments have called an “attack on democracy”.

The Wales office and the secretary of state will also likely play a key role in any discussions of further devolution to Wales.

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