Wales

AMs leave Cardiff Bay to fight Welsh assembly election

Presiding Officer Dafydd Elis Thomas gives Rhodri Morgan the mace
Image caption Presiding Officer Dafydd Elis Thomas gives Rhodri Morgan the ceremonial mace

The Welsh assembly was dissolved on Thursday ahead of the election on 5 May.

From midnight, the 60 AMs lost their seats as the race began in earnest to the assembly's fourth election.

It is the first time there has been a formal pre-election dissolution since the institution was set up in 1999.

Welsh Assembly Government ministers will remain in post to take routine decisions. The Cabinet could be reconvened if there is a crisis.

Law-making powers

Earlier on Wednesday, First Minister Carwyn Jones formally signed the commencement order to give the assembly direct law-making powers.

It follows the Yes vote in this month's referendum on the assembly's powers.

Once made, the order will allow the assembly after the election to consider bills and pass acts without needing approval in Westminster.

The last plenary session of term was marked on Wednesday when former first minister Rhodri Morgan carried the assembly's ceremonial mace out of the Senedd chamber.

Mr Morgan, who is standing down as AM for Cardiff West, was handed the mace by Presiding Officer Lord Elis-Thomas after the final plenary session on Wednesday

He is one of 14 members retiring at this election.

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