WELSH Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies has called for Wales' Assembly to be renamed as a Parliament.

The institution, which came into being in 1999, was last year granted primary law-making powers in its 20 devolved areas.

The Tory leader said now was the time to consider the Assembly to have its name changed given since its greater powers.

"By voting for full law-making powers last year the people of Wales made their National Assembly a parliament in all but name,’’ said Mr Davies.

"It's now time to reward their faith in our institution and acknowledge that where laws are made - the title of a parliament should exist. This is a common-sense move.

"It would provide far greater clarity over the distinction between the assembly - as it is currently named - and the Welsh government, and it would give our devolved institution its rightful place alongside other national legislatures.’’ The Welsh word used for the assembly building is Senedd, which translates into English as "senate’’ or "parliament’’.

Mr Davies, leader of the Conservative group in the Assembly, the second largest party to Labour, has often described himself as a "proud unionist’’.

However, he insisted his name-change suggestion had nothing to do with any greater separation between Wales and the rest of the UK.

He claims the move would require only a small amendment in existing legislation and could be in place by 2016.

He added: "As we drive forward it is crucially important that we embrace what we now have. Put simply - a parliament.’’ The Assembly's Presiding Officer Rosemary Butler said terminology was important.

She added: "There were undoubtedly difficulties in the early years of devolution in distinguishing in the public's mind between the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Assembly Government.

"Unfortunately changing its name is not something that is within the Assembly's gift. It could be done only through legislation in Westminster.’’ The Welsh Government said the idea was "interesting’’ and one which "deserves further consideration’’.

A spokesman added: "However, we do need to know the views of the Secretary of State for Wales on this matter.’’ But The Wales Office indicated that the move was "not a priority’’ at present.