Presiding Officer

Dame Rosemary Butler AM

PO photo
Professional background
Rosemary joined the Labour party in 1971 and two years later she was elected Labour councillor for Caerleon on Newport Borough Council, a position she held until 1999. While on the council, she chaired the Leisure Services Committee for 12 years, and served as Deputy Leader and Mayor of Newport (1989/1990).

Political history
She was elected as Newport West’s first Assembly Member in May 1999 and has been re-elected in each subsequent Assembly election.

Rosemary was appointed to the first National Assembly cabinet as Minister for pre-16 Education and Children, and chaired the Culture, Welsh Language and Sport Committee and was the Assembly’s representative on the European Union’s Committee of the Regions. She has also been Deputy Presiding Officer, Chair of the Assembly’s Legislation (1) Committee (which scrutinised all backbench proposals to introduce Measures) and served on the British Council Cross-Party group.

In May 2011, Rosemary was elected to the position of Presiding Officer of the National Assembly by a unanimous vote of Assembly Members. In addition, she represents the Assembly on the British Irish Parliamentary Association and CALRE (Speakers of Legislative Bodies in the European Union).

The functions of the Presiding Officer are:
  • to chair Plenary meetings; 

  • to determine questions as to the interpretation or application of Standing Orders; 

  • to represent the Assembly in exchanges with any other bodies, whether within or outside the United Kingdom, in relation to matters affecting the Assembly; and 

  • such other functions conferred by any enactment, by the Assembly or by these Standing Orders.

Women in Public Life
In 2012 Dame Rosemary Butler AM, Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales, hosted a series of seminars on the theme of Women in Public Life. Starting from an examination of the barriers to increasing women's representation, outlined in the "Who runs Wales" report produced by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, panels of influential women from different sectors were then engaged in discussions looking at practical solutions for enhancing women's representations in public life.
Gender equality is an issue that has always been really close to the Presiding Officer's heart. She is a founder member of Newport Women's Aid, an organisation established in 1975 run by women, serving women in the community who are suffering from domestic abuse. She is also a member of Women's International League of Peace and Freedom and an Ambassador for Girl Guiding.

As a result of her leading role in the Women in Public Life campaign she is now recognised as a leading contributor in major discussions on the topic such as the recent Guardian Live Discussions and guest contributor on Radio 4. She has also recently been shortlisted for Devolved Parliament or Assembly Member of the Year, in the Parliamentary Companion Dods' Women in Public Life Awards.


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