Senedd in CardiffImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Cardiff’s Senedd – but should full meetings sometimes be held outside the Welsh capital?

Should the National Assembly meet outside Cardiff?

The question has been asked by Presiding Officer Elin Jones, as she reflected on 20 years since the first assembly sat in 1999.

The Ceredigion AM said the assembly should examine whether it needed to convene in other parts of Wales, from time to time.

Ms Jones suggested parts of north Wales could benefit from such meetings.

“The fact that the assembly itself is located in one of the most southern-most tips of Wales is a fact we live with, because the assembly is in our capital city,” said the Plaid Cymru politician.

“That’s not for changing in the foreseeable future.”

The presiding officer said there had been a “considerable effort” over the years to take committee meetings out of Cardiff, and engage the public in activities outside of the capital.

“But I think this is now our twentieth year in existence, and now really should be the time when we can consider whether we can take the assembly – the Senedd in its entirety – to another location in Wales and hold full meetings.

Image caption There has been a huge amount of change in AMs’ responsibilities says Presiding Officer Elin Jones

“We are representatives of the whole of Wales, yes – but sometimes we need to make that a little bit more obvious to the whole of Wales.”

Speaking to BBC Wales’ Sunday Politics programme, the presiding officer said the last two decades had witnessed fundamental changes in the way the body wielded power.

“I think we were a talking shop in that very first assembly,” she said, arguing that when it met in May 1999 it had “very little powers on almost any aspect of our life”.

“We are now a fully legislative parliament. We have for the first time tax-varying powers on public funds, and there’s been a huge amount of change therefore in our responsibilities.”

She also reflected on the pace of change.

“There’s been a huge amount of frustration I’d say at various times,” she said, citing a ban on smoking in public places as an example.

“At the time when we were discussing it in those first and second assemblies, we had no legislative means of putting that into operation.

“Scotland were able to do it before Wales – even though the idea probably came from Wales.”

Sunday Politics is on BBC One Wales from 11:00 BST on 5 May – or catch-up on the BBC iPlayer

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