SENEDD members have again agreed that St David’s Day should be a bank holiday – but they are powerless to do anything about it. 

The Senedd today called for the UK Government to make March 1 a bank holiday as it backed a motion tabled by the Welsh Conservatives and co-signed by the Welsh Labour, Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Liberal Democrats. 

Mick Antoniw, the Welsh Government’s counsel general, confirmed the Welsh Government is “happy to reiterate and confirm our wholehearted support for creating a St David’s Day bank holiday.” 

He also said it would continue to seek the devolution of powers so that it could take the decision itself. 

In a good natured debate members were keen to stress their parties have long supported a bank holiday to mark Wales’ national day. 

Conservative Tom Giffard, who introduced the debate, said his party has supported the idea for over a decade but was disappointed the education minister, had yesterday, said he was “delighted” the Tories were supporting the government’s “long standing” ambition.  

The South Wales West member noted cabinet minister Julie James said in 2018 the government had no plans to make St David’s Day a national holiday. 

He said more than 10,000 people have recently signed a petition in support and a BBC Wales poll has shown 87 per cent of people in Wales support the idea. 

He said figures show bank holidays boost retail sales by 15 per cent and hospitality and catering by 20 per cent and also said there would be “huge cultural” benefits. 

Gwynedd council gave its staff the day off yesterday, after the UK Government rejected its plea to create a bank holiday, and Giffard said other organisations, including the Snowdonia National Park Authority, have followed suit. 

“The benefit shouldn’t just be limited to these people but to all people,” said Giffard. 

Later in the debate, Liberal Democrat Jane Dodds, said: “It’s important we remember all those people who work through bank holidays and weekends as well. Care workers, shop workers and factory workers and those working in health care we need to make sure they are compensated as well.” 

Natasha Ashgar, said her late father, who had been a member of the National Asssembly for Wales, wasn’t born in Wales but had made the country his home and was the “biggest advocate for Wales I ever met.” 

She said: “It will be a chance for people all across Wales, whether they were born here or not, to celebrate.” 

She said the proposal isn’t about creating a new bank holiday but moving one of the two bank holidays in May to March 1. 


The tabled motion read “to propose that the Senedd: Believes that Saint David’s Day should be a bank holiday” though Conservative comments in the media ahead of the debate had also mentioned moving one of the May bank holidays. 

Rhys ab Owen, for Plaid Cymru, said he “regretted” calls to move a bank holiday as “more bank holidays are needed”. 

He said Scotland has 10 and Wales has only eight. 

He said his father, former Assembly Member Owen John Thomas, had on March 1, 2000 - the first St David’s Day since the Assembly opened the previous year – received unanimous support for a proposal to create a bank holiday. 

He said it was ruled out by Labour secretary of state for Wales, Paul Murphy, in 2002 and successive Westminster governments have since refused to do so. 

Labour member Jack Sargeant said campaigning by the trade union movement had led to bank holidays and that he also supported moves towards a four day week.

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