Welsh Honours System – have your say

*update*

As we have had such a good response to the request for views on a Welsh Honours System, we are leaving the blog open for comments for an extra week until 19 February.

The views will then be collated and considered by the Petitions Committee on 9 March.

An update will be posted here, once the Committee have considered your views.

Thank you for all your contributions so far.

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The Petitions Committee of the National Assembly for Wales is considering a petition that calls for the introduction of a Welsh Honours System. This would recognise significant achievements by Welsh people. The Committee is keen to find out what you think about it.

Do you think this is a good idea or not? What are your thoughts about this?

If you do think it is a good idea, who would you like to see honoured? What sort of activities do you think should be honoured, and how should they be honoured?

Do you have any other thoughts or suggestions about the issue?

Please post your comments below, or alternatively you can email us at petition@wales.gsi.gov.uk or you can write to us:

Committee Clerk
Petitions Committee
National Assembly for Wales
Cardiff Bay, Cardiff
CF99 1NA

The Petitions Committee has asked for views on this issue before, but are doing so again to ensure that more people get the opportunity to air their views.

If you want to be kept updated of progress on the issue, keep your eyes on this blog as we will provide an update once the Committee have considered the responses received.

All comments posted to the discussion forums will be pre-moderated by staff at the National Assembly for Wales, which means that posted comments will not appear instantly on the site. Moderation will take place between 9am – 5pm on Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays).

41 thoughts on “Welsh Honours System – have your say

  1. What a stupid idea, all we’ll end up with is more self important civil servants getting honours for doing their job.

    The honours system should be completely scrapped in the UK and replaced by awards for military and civilian bravery.

    Andy

  2. I think the notion of saying ‘well done’ to the unheard, unrecognised people who have made a change or difference in their communities is a wonderful thing.

    However I feel very uncomfortable about the system that is in place to honour those that are successful and already congratulated in their particular field for that success is honour enough.

  3. I am not sure of the regulations of the honours system but would like to know if Scotland and Northern Ireland are also considering this.
    The idea of a public awareness and award for those contributing to the Nation’s strength and development is a good idea but they should not have to be a civil servant, they should be of any ilk.

  4. No doubt any honours system will have a welsh language bias. Is it possible to even get in job in Wales unless you are bi-lingual?

  5. I think we can learn something from the Americans here, bizarrely: they don’t have any honorifics and foreigners becoming American citizens are legally required to relinquish any honorifics. Of course this Welsh system would not be ‘official’ in the way that KBEs, CBEs, Lords etc are, but even so, I think that good works or long service in an area of expertise give their own rewards and don’t require some pat on the back.

  6. Helen:
    I disagree with Andy Davies’ comment. It is never a bad thing to be recognised for your achievements. Having our own honorary system would be a great way of highlighting people who are doing well around us, and would inspire others to follow in their steps.

    Why should people in the military be the only ones recognised? Is signing up to the army the only honourable thing a person can do these days? It would be better to suggest how others could get involved as opposed to scrapping the whole idea completely, surely?

    Charlotte:
    The ambulance service, nurses and the NHS deserve more recognition. Everyone always slates the NHS; they under-estimate how hard it is to work being so under-staffed.

  7. Nat: really don’t see what that’s got to do with it.

    I don’t doubt that there are thousands of Welsh men and women deserving of recognition, although i’m not convinced that an honours system is the best way of highlighting their good work. That said, as long as people didn’t get titles based purely on their breeding or political involvement, it would by no means be a bad thing.

  8. The fact of the matter is that honours bestowed by the Crown are completely irrelevant to the people of Wales, or in fact any other nation within the UK. When one has done something good, what does a medal from an unelected monarch count for? Good people deserve recognition from the people of Wales, and if Wales had that capacity, and drew its right to bestow honours from the people, rather than from the crown, then I think the honours would count for far more. It’s only fair that Wales has its own system; it’s what we as a people and as a country deserve.

  9. Thank you for the comments to date. I am one of the AMs who sits on the petitions committee. Could you suggest at all what an honours system would look like? How often would it happen? Who should be rewarded etc?

    Thanks

  10. I think a Welsh honours system is long overdue. What on earth is the problem with awarding great work from Wales? I would give a medal called the Dewi Sant/St David Medal. To be handed out to worthy person on March 1st by the Culture Minister or the First Minister. Perhaps we could have one for sports, one for public service and one for arts/entertainment/culture. As for the design, I think research would have to be done into this, have a look at other honour models given out.

  11. My constituency has a Lib Dem MP. Receiving an honour here has nothing to do with what a person has achieved but is simply an indication of their political affiliation because over many years the Lib Dems have used the honours system to give awards to their supporters. This has brought the whole system into disrepute. If we are to have a Welsh honours system then there needs to be an independent way of assessing the merits of someone’s contribution based on defined, transparent criteria.

  12. As one of the original petitioners for a Welsh Honours system I think we should have one as a complement to the UK honours system.

    Wales needs to celebrate its successes. I would like to honour people of exceptional achievement in some innovative way and show the world what an imaginative lot we are in Wales!

    The petition suggests the system should make a start by honouring the writer, Jan Morris. She is an exceptionally gifted writer who was named by The Times as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. The wonderful thing is Anglo-Welsh and she made a positive choice to favour her Welsh identity so honouring Jan signals our desire for Wales to be an inclusive place. She has also used her considerable talents to celebrate Wales in prose to an international audience.

    Why is there a portrait of Jan in the National Portrait Gallery in London (and Neil and Glenys Kinnock) but not in the National Museum of Wales? My fantasy is to inaugurate a Welsh Honours System on
    March 1st 2010 by unveiling a portrait of Jan by a talented Welsh artist which after Jan’s day travels around the National Museums and Galleries.

    I also want to honour the unsung heroes and heroines of Wales but in a different way which can wait for another post!

  13. I personally don’t think it’s a good idea. I have no doubt that the idea was conceived in good faith, but it seems pointless to me. All welsh people are already entitled to british honours, and I disagree that these are not relevant to the people of wales, many of whom do not hold strong feelings of detachment from the british nation and monarchy. I’m sure that if someone worked hard and achieved something, they would appreciate an honour regardless of whether it’s from the queen or the people of wales. Either way it’s somebody telling you that you’ve done well and should be proud, it’s silly to reject that gesture just because you don’t like the person who is giving it.

    Although something else that contributes to my disapproval of the idea is that I can see it being dominated by welsh rugby players and other actors, athletes, musicians etc, just as the current honours system is. I appreciate that these people represent the nation and I’m not suggesting they’re thoroughly undeserving of praise, but when people are getting higher honours like CBEs for essentially entertaining people, it becomes a joke.

  14. The British Homours system is tainted, largely due to political favours. I would very much welcome a Welsh Honours system on an annual basis, recognising the achievements of Welsh people either home or abroad in their chosen activities. As with the British system, this could be for all walks of life but must be decided with political impartiality and also with no royal involvement.

    Many Welsh people have declined British awards becuase of their republican beliefs or for being labelled xxxxxx of the British Empire. It may not be a view that everyone shares, but it should not be a block for deserved recognition.

    Let’s have an annual Welsh homours system that starts with a large list to play catch up with many who have neve recieved recognition and then a fixed number of annual awards.

  15. So long as it is possible to keep the system free of party politics and the wheeler dealing of ambitious politicians. It would also have to be open and accessible to everyone.

  16. I do think it’s a good idea, as any recognition of good work is a good thing, as long as it doesn’t end up costing more in administration that it’s worth! Otherwise, why not value people!?

  17. There should be no honours system of any kind, letters after names should be kept for qualifications only where the effort has been spent over many years to attain the qualification. A commendation system would be better to reward people who give up their time for free for charity or other benefit to the community, not a system to reward overpaid civil servants or sports stars.

  18. We have an adequate honours system in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List; it covers the whole of the United Kingdom without favour, where the majority of awards go to ordinary people who have made a real difference to life in their communities.

    Why have a second system, do we in Wales believe our local heroes are not honoured, or do we wish for a system that supports the archaic idea that we are in Wales somewhat different to the remainder of the United Kingdom.

    Until such times that Wales is an independent country (not supported) I am quite satisfied with an honours system that recognises outstanding achievement and service across the whole of the UK, which includes the local heroes and exceptional personalities of Wales.

  19. In principle a separate Welsh Honours List is a good idea – but it must be sufficiently different to the UK Honours system if it is to be a success. There should be no awarding of honours simply for serving out your years in a civil service job – It should be truly representative of the people. Real heroes, local personalities, dedicated citizens, yes. Generally not politicians but with a few notable exceptions and generally not civil servants.

    I would envisage X number of ‘standard’ awards a year (maybe 20-30) with a smaller number of ‘special’ awards a year (maybe 5-6) and a very limited number of ‘exceptional’ awards (maybe 1-2 but not neccesarily any!) I would also have aone or two institutional awards – maybe the Welsh Rugby team on winning the RWC for example – or the Brecon Beacons Mountain Rescue team say.

    The standard awards should be monitored to ensure a fair geographic spread (and I hate to say it but also gender/race etc)

  20. A Welsh Honours System that honours ordinary people and community champions should be introduced. It should not involve the monarchy or non-Welsh institutions and should serve the purpose of further opening up the Senedd for people that are doing work in their communities, such as charity workers, police community support officers,

    It should ideally not become a front for rewarding celebrities like the UK system arguably does. The system should be seen as another opportunity to make people feel included in the work of the Assembly by getting to visit the building and receive their award in a proper ceremony from the Presiding Officer.

  21. Absolutely. We must have an independent and uniquely Welsh honours system. The benefits to Wales would be enormous.
    When I was a tour bus driver in London I complained often that we would take visitors from around the world to Scotland and Ireland, Oxford and Stratford-on-Avon but very little was done in Wales. Wales is a beautiful country with a rich and vibrant culture, I’m not talking just the Welsh language here, where else in the world do you find quiz nights in a pub. Even so, It’s far easier to sell the lakes of Killarney than any spot in Wales.
    These days I live in California. People do not know about Wales. So many people haven’t even heard of it. Even though we were 20% of the Pilgrim Fathers 50% of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and presidents like Thomas Jefferson, who spoke Welsh, and Abraham Lincoln had Welsh parents.
    If we had a Welsh honours system then when someone like Anthony Hopkins is honored it puts us on the map. It’s being on the world map that brings tourism and investment.
    A Welsh honours system would give us the opportunity to showcase the best of Welsh talent and ability, not just in the 8,000 square miles that is Wales, but in the world.

    1. I really agree with Peter’s comments. Scotland and Ireland have their own honours systems and historically have raised their international profile more successfully than Wales. I have even been asked by Americans to name a famous Welsh person when so many of their major historical figures have strong Welsh connections which Peter refers to.

  22. Great points. How would the Assembly go about choosing the people for the Honours system? eg would Councils, voluntary sector etc nominate people to the Presiding Officer, and an independent panel choose those/ the person to honour?

    I take the point that some people make that there should not be an honours system at all/ conform to UK system, though I have my own political opinions on them also.

    1. I think choosing recipients of a Welsh honours system will be extremely difficult but I also think that is one of the reasons why we should have a Welsh honours system. The difficulty creates the opportunity. It gives us in Wales a chance to express our values by defining what we mean by success.

      The UK honours system made a significant breakthrough by honouring the marvellous Paralympian, Ellie Simmonds with an MBE who was the youngest person ever to achieve the honour and I think the only minor to receive such an honour. Ellie was from England but re-located to Wales to get the best coaching. It’s a success story that is primarily about Ellie and her coach, Billy Pye. However, there is a Welsh dimension to this success, which should be celebrated. A Welsh Honour for Ellie and Billy would tell the world that Wales can be the place to be to develop to your full potential.

      It also gives us the chance in Wales to draw on our British heritage to take a lead for the rest of the UK. Now that the principle of recognising minors has been established at the UK level why can’t we in Wales take the lead in recognising those wonderful unsung child carers who do so much valuable work that would otherwise be done by the State?

      I think an independent panel should determine Welsh Honours and should consist of such people as the Archbishop of Wales and have an input from other faith leaders as in many ways it involves an examination of our values. The voluntary sector should be able to nominate as they will know of many examples of lifelong selfless work. Local authorities should be able to nominate because of their employees provide public services. Health trusts for the same reason should be able to nominate, as well as cultural organisations such as the Gorsedd. However, above all, the members of the public should be given their say and allowed to nominate.

  23. I think that it’s important to disconnect the honours system from party politics, so they shouldn’t be appointed by the Government. This will only lead to “status” for supporters of specific parties in specific areas. I agree that any Welsh Honours system should be split into categories e.g. “Sports and Culture”, “Science, Environment and Research”, “Public and Charitable Services”. Then qualified bodies within those categories would propose a certain amount of people to the Llywydd annually, for him/her to refer the nominees to a completely independent panel from each category, and perhaps one representative from each party, to be appointed annually.

  24. I think an honours system for Wales is a good idea, in terms of promoting national identity if that’s something the nation would want to do. Difficult to say how it would be done though, maybe an independent, non-governmental panel so that it’s not seen as political.

  25. A few questions …

    Are citizens living in Wales to be excluded from the “Queen’s Birthday Honours List”, is there to be a residency rule for a “Welsh Honours” system, will a citizen recognised by one honour system be recognised for the same exceptional activity by the other, will both honours be awarded for the same reasons.

  26. I’m with Dame Tanni Grey-Thomspon on this one, who thinks it is a lovely idea. A separate Welsh honours system parallel to those issued by the Queen is a great idea, and its hight time for one. As someone commented above, what is the problem with celebrating great Welsh contribution.

    The National Assembly could honour two individuals per year (one male, one female) to recognise exceptional service for someone who has brought credit to Wales. Brilliant.

  27. This is a great idea. But it’s important that the Committee includes lay people, so that your average Joe gets the opportunity to help decide who should be awarded. Given to the people from the people.

  28. I am in favour of a Welsh honours system but echo some of the concerns of other respondants in so far as needing to ensure that any system was kept free of party politics or other such biased influences. Equally, awards should not be made just because someone is famous, but be based on their actual contribution to their community, be that their local community or the wider community of Wales. Ideally nominations could be made by the general public for things as wide ranging as people who have devoted their lives to caring for others, those who work tirelessly for their local village etc right up to those who have been pivotal in raising the consciousness of Wales as a nation to the wider world. Personally, I would be happy to see a Wales honours system replace the present UK-wide system for people in Wales. Of course, there would be many logistical considerations to sort out.

  29. I think an honours system for wales would be very worthwhile. Having lived in Wales (although neither Welsh nor British), I was always impressed by the strong community ties within the region. If an honours system were introduced that could fit into this milieu and help to promote the various positive grassroots activities going on, then all the better. However, as a few people have stated the system itself should maintain a community focus, as it would be very easy to loose track and start handing out awards to useless celebrities as an exchange for more publicity.

  30. I’m against having an honours system, and all my objections have been ably expressed by previous writers.

    I will add that having read all the above it feels like it’s already been decided that there will be an honors system in Wales sometime soon and you’re just deciding how it will work. Asking us is just a token gesture.

    I bet some of the people responsible for implementing the system will in future years end up getting honours themselves.

  31. I would like to reierate the fact that an honours system Is not a done deal as some people are alluding to- far from it! As a committee we are merely asking you what you think of it. We have many many interesting petitions and I’m passionate about trying to garner a wider debate on them.

  32. As much as I like the idea in principle, what I would prefer to see is an extension of the honour system that exists in the form of the gorsedd y beirdd. It is essentially a ready made system, and with WAG support (financial and promotional) could really develop. It is distinctly Welsh, a unique system for us, rather than a re-hash of the British/English system

  33. I think it’s quite clear that there is overwhelming support for a Welsh Honours system, and it is a real pity that this idea hasn’t been considered before now. As I said in an earlier comment, the Honours System of the UK is completely irrelevant to the people of Wales – we have a different society, and a different culture to the elitist society that the UK Honours System promotes. It is my belief that an honours system, where the honour is drawn from the people not from the Crown, is far more valuable than bestowing knight- and dame-hoods, MBEs and OBEs etc., on people who haven’t contributed anything to Wales or her people. A system where we can honour or own, for worthy things, is long, long overdue.

  34. I think that it is a good idea to have an honour system that is decided by an elected body as it give more representation of the thanks of people of the country rather than one important family. I like the idea also that it is jsut Wales bassed but there are a few thinks that I would like to see included in it such as there would be no bias towards or away from honouring Welsh language speakers it should be anyone who has worked to improve Wales. I think it should also work in conjunction with the current U.K. system as to rule Welsh people out of still obtaining Royal U.K. honours. If this system would comprimise the chances of getting these honours I think it should be scrapped but if it can be assured that especially people in England wont ‘kick up a fuss’ about it then I fully support the idea.

  35. I haven’t got any time for the English one, let alone have one in Wales.
    The money could be better spent elswhere,on things that are really needed, not wasted on frivolities.

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