In the United Kingdom, devolution (Scottish Gaelic: fèin-riaghlaidh, Welsh: datganoli; Irish: Dílárú) is the statutory granting of powers from the Parliament of the United Kingdom to the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the London Assembly and to their associated executive bodies the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government, the Northern Ireland Executive and in England, the Greater London Authority and combined authorities.
Devolution differs from federalism in that the devolved powers of the subnational authority ultimately reside in central government, thus the state remains, de jure, a unitary state. Legislation creating devolved parliaments or assemblies can be repealed or amended by central government in the same way as any statute.
Earlier in the 19th century, Irish politicians like Daniel O'Connell had demanded a repeal of the Act of Union 1800 and a return to two separate kingdoms and parliaments, united only in the personal union of the monarch of Great Britain and Ireland. In contrast to this, demands for home rule called for autonomy for Ireland within the United Kingdom, with a subsidiary Irish parliament subject to the authority of the parliament at Westminster. This issue was first introduced by the Irish Parliamentary Party led by Isaac Butt, William Shaw and Charles Stewart Parnell.
Over the course of four decades, four Irish Home Rule Bills were introduced into the British Parliament:
Home Rule came into effect for Northern Ireland in 1921 under the Fourth Home Rule Act. The Parliament of Northern Ireland established under that act was prorogued (the session ended) on 30 March 1972 owing to the destabilisation of Northern Ireland upon the onset of the Troubles in late 1960s. This followed escalating violence by state and paramilitary organisations following the suppression of civil rights demands by Northern Ireland Catholics.
The Northern Ireland Parliament was abolished by the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973, which received royal assent on 19 July 1973. A Northern Ireland Assembly was elected on 28 June 1973 and following the Sunningdale Agreement, a power-sharing Northern Ireland Executive was formed on 1 January 1974. This collapsed on 28 May 1974, due to the Ulster Workers' Council strike. The Troubles continued.
The Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention (1975–1976) and second Northern Ireland Assembly (1982–1986) were unsuccessful at restoring devolution. In the absence of devolution and power-sharing, the UK Government and Irish Government formally agreed to co-operate on security, justice and political progress in the Anglo-Irish Agreement, signed on 15 November 1985. More progress was made after the ceasefires by the Provisional IRA in 1994 and 1997.
The 1998 Belfast Agreement (also known as the Good Friday Agreement), resulted in the creation of a new Northern Ireland Assembly, intended to bring together the two communities (nationalist and unionist) to govern Northern Ireland. Additionally, renewed devolution in Northern Ireland was conditional on co-operation between the newly established Northern Ireland Executive and the Government of Ireland through a new all-Ireland body, the North/South Ministerial Council. A British-Irish Council covering the whole British Isles and a British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (between the British and Irish Governments) were also established.
From 15 October 2002, the Northern Ireland Assembly was suspended due to a breakdown in the Northern Ireland peace process but, on 13 October 2006, the British and Irish governments announced the St Andrews Agreement, a 'road map' to restore devolution to Northern Ireland. On 26 March 2007, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Ian Paisley met Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams for the first time and together announced that a devolved government would be returning to Northern Ireland. The Executive was restored on 8 May 2007. Several policing and justice powers were transferred to the Assembly on 12 April 2010.
The 2007–2011 Assembly (the third since the 1998 Agreement) was dissolved on 24 March 2011 in preparation for an election to be held on Thursday 5 May 2011, this being the first Assembly since the Good Friday Agreement to complete a full term. The fifth Assembly convened in May 2016. That assembly dissolved on 26 January 2017, and an election for a reduced Assembly was held on 2 March 2017.
Ever since the Parliament of Scotland adjourned in 1707 as a result of the Acts of Union, individuals and organisations had advocated the return of a Scottish Parliament. The drive for home rule first took concrete shape in the 19th century, as demands for it in Ireland were met with similar (although not as widespread) demands in Scotland. The National Association for the Vindication of Scottish Rights was established in 1853, a body close to the Tories and motivated by a desire to secure more focus on Scottish problems in response to what they felt was undue attention being focused on Ireland by the then Liberal government. In 1871, William Ewart Gladstone stated at a meeting held in Aberdeen that if Ireland was to be granted home rule, then the same should apply to Scotland. A Scottish home rule bill was presented to the Westminster Parliament in 1913 but the legislative process was interrupted by the First World War.
The demands for political change in the way in which Scotland was run changed dramatically in the 1920s when Scottish nationalists started to form various organisations. The Scots National League was formed in 1920 in favour of Scottish independence, and this movement was superseded in 1928 by the formation of the National Party of Scotland, which became the Scottish National Party (SNP) in 1934. At first the SNP sought only the establishment of a devolved Scottish assembly, but in 1942 they changed this to support all-out independence. This caused the resignation of John MacCormick from the SNP and he formed the Scottish Covenant Association. This body proved to be the biggest mover in favour of the formation of a Scottish assembly, collecting over two million signatures in the late 1940s and early 1950s and attracting support from across the political spectrum. However, without formal links to any of the political parties it withered, devolution and the establishment of an assembly were put on the political back burner.
Harold Wilson's Labour government set up a Royal Commission on the Constitution in 1969, which reported in 1973 to Ted Heath's Conservative government. The Commission recommended the formation of a devolved Scottish assembly, but was not implemented.
Support for the SNP reached 30% in the October 1974 general election, with 11 SNP MPs being elected. In 1978 the Labour government passed the Scotland Act which legislated for the establishment of a Scottish Assembly, provided the Scots voted for such in a referendum. However, the Labour Party was bitterly divided on the subject of devolution. An amendment to the Scotland Act that had been proposed by Labour MP George Cunningham, who shortly afterwards defected to the newly formed Social Democratic Party (SDP), required 40% of the total electorate to vote in favour of an assembly. Despite officially favouring it, considerable numbers of Labour members opposed the establishment of an assembly. This division contributed to only a narrow 'Yes' majority being obtained, and the failure to reach Cunningham's 40% threshold. The 18 years of Conservative government, under Margaret Thatcher and then John Major, saw strong resistance to any proposal for devolution for Scotland, and for Wales.
In response to Conservative dominance, in 1989 the Scottish Constitutional Convention was formed encompassing the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Green Party, local authorities, and sections of "civic Scotland" like Scottish Trades Union Congress, the Small Business Federation and Church of Scotland and the other major churches in Scotland. Its purpose was to devise a scheme for the formation of a devolution settlement for Scotland. The SNP decided to withdraw as independence was not a constitutional option countenanced by the convention. The convention produced its final report in 1995.
In May 1997, the Labour government of Tony Blair was elected with a promise of creating devolved institutions in Scotland. In late 1997, a referendum was held which resulted in a "yes" vote. The newly created Scottish Parliament (as a result of the Scotland Act 1998) has powers to make primary legislation in all areas of policy which are not expressly 'reserved' for the UK Government and parliament such as national defence and international affairs.
Devolution for Scotland was justified on the basis that it would make government more representative of the people of Scotland. It was argued that the population of Scotland felt detached from the Westminster government (largely because of the policies of the Conservative governments led by Margaret Thatcher and John Major).
A referendum on Scottish independence was held on 18 September 2014, with the referendum being defeated 44.7% (Yes) to 55.3% (No). In the 2015 UK general election the SNP won 56 of the 59 Scottish seats with 50% of all Scottish votes. This saw the SNP replace the Liberal Democrats as the third largest in the UK Parliament.
In the 2016 Scottish Parliament election the SNP fell two seats short of an overall majority with 63 seats but remained in government for a third term. The Conservative Party won 31 seats and became the second largest party for the first time. The Labour Party, down to 24 seats from 38, fell to third place. The Scottish Greens took 6 seats and overtook the Liberal Democrats who remained flat at 5 seats.
Following the 2016 referendum on EU membership, where Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to Remain and England and Wales voted to Leave (leading to a 52% Leave vote nationwide), the Scottish Parliament voted for a second independence referendum to be held once conditions of the UK's EU exit are known. Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May to date has rejected this request citing a need to focus on EU exit negotiations.
After the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542, Wales was treated in legal terms as part of England. However, during the later part of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century the notion of a distinctive Welsh polity gained credence. In 1881 the Sunday Closing (Wales) Act 1881 was passed, the first such legislation exclusively concerned with Wales. The Central Welsh Board was established in 1896 to inspect the grammar schools set up under the Welsh Intermediate Education Act 1889, and a separate Welsh Department of the Board of Education was formed in 1907. The Agricultural Council for Wales was set up in 1912, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries had its own Welsh Office from 1919.
Despite the failure of popular political movements such as Cymru Fydd, a number of institutions, such as the National Eisteddfod (1861), the University of Wales (Prifysgol Cymru) (1893), the National Library of Wales (Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru) (1911) and the Welsh Guards (Gwarchodlu Cymreig) (1915) were created. The campaign for disestablishment of the Anglican Church in Wales, achieved by the passage of the Welsh Church Act 1914, was also significant in the development of Welsh political consciousness. Plaid Cymru was formed in 1925.
An appointed Council for Wales and Monmouthshire was established in 1949 to "ensure the government is adequately informed of the impact of government activities on the general life of the people of Wales". The council had 27 members nominated by local authorities in Wales, the University of Wales, National Eisteddfod Council and the Welsh Tourist Board. A cross-party Parliament for Wales campaign in the early 1950s was supported by a number of Labour MPs, mainly from the more Welsh-speaking areas, together with the Liberal Party and Plaid Cymru. A post of Minister of Welsh Affairs was created in 1951 and the post of Secretary of State for Wales and the Welsh Office were established in 1964 leading to the abolition of the Council for Wales and Monmouthshire.
Labour's incremental embrace of a distinctive Welsh polity was arguably catalysed in 1966 when Plaid Cymru president Gwynfor Evans won the Carmarthen by-election. In response to the emergence of Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party (SNP) Harold Wilson's Labour Government set up the Royal Commission on the Constitution (the Kilbrandon Commission) to investigate the UK's constitutional arrangements in 1969. The 1974–1979 Labour government proposed a Welsh Assembly in parallel to its proposals for Scotland. These were rejected by voters in the 1979 referendum, with 956,330 votes against, compared with 243,048 for.
In May 1997, the Labour government of Tony Blair was elected with a promise of creating a devolved assembly in Wales; the referendum in 1997 resulted in a "yes" vote. The National Assembly for Wales, as a consequence of the Government of Wales Act 1998, possesses the power to determine how the government budget for Wales is spent and administered. The 1998 Act was followed by the Government of Wales Act 2006 which created an executive body, the Welsh Government, separate from the legislature, the National Assembly for Wales. It also conferred on the National Assembly some limited legislative powers.
In Wales the 1997 referendum on devolution was only narrowly passed, and most voters rejected devolution in all the counties bordering England, as well as Cardiff and Pembrokeshire. However, all recent opinion polls indicate an increasing level of support for further devolution, with support for some tax varying powers now commanding a majority, and diminishing support for abolition of the Assembly.
A March 2011 referendum in Wales saw a majority of 21 local authority constituencies to 1 voting in favour of more legislative powers being transferred from the UK parliament in Westminster to the Welsh Assembly. The turnout was 35.4% with 517,132 votes (63.49%) in favour and 297,380 (36.51%) against increased legislative power.
A Commission on Devolution in Wales was set up in October 2011 to consider further devolution of powers from London. The commission issued a report on the devolution of fiscal powers in November 2012 and a report on the devolution of legislative powers in March 2014. The fiscal recommendations formed the basis of the Wales Act 2014, while majority of the legislative recommendations were put into law by the Wales Act 2017.
The National Assembly is set to be renamed the Welsh Parliament (Senedd Cymru in Welsh) in 2020.
England is the only country of the United Kingdom to not have a devolved Parliament or Assembly and English affairs are decided by the Westminster Parliament. Devolution for England was proposed in 1912 by the Member of Parliament for Dundee, Winston Churchill, as part of the debate on Home Rule for Ireland. In a speech in Dundee on 12 September, Churchill proposed that the government of England should be divided up among regional parliaments, with power devolved to areas such as Lancashire, Yorkshire, the Midlands and London as part of a federal system of government.
The division of England into provinces or regions was explored by several post-Second World War royal commissions. The Redcliffe-Maud Report of 1969 proposed devolving power from central government to eight provinces in England. In 1973 the Royal Commission on the Constitution (United Kingdom) proposed the creation of eight English appointed regional assemblies with an advisory role; although the report stopped short of recommending legislative devolution to England, a minority of signatories wrote a memorandum of dissent which put forward proposals for devolving power to elected assemblies for Scotland, Wales and five Regional Assemblies in England.
In April 1994 the Government of John Major created a set of ten Government Office Regions for England to coordinate central government departments at a provincial level. English Regional Development Agencies were set up in 1998 under the Government of Tony Blair to foster economic growth around England. These Agencies were supported by a set of eight newly created Regional Assemblies, or Chambers. These bodies were not directly elected but members were appointed by local government and local interest groups.
English Regional Assemblies were abolished between 2008 and 2010, but proposals to replace them were put forward. Following devolution of power to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in 1998, the government proposed similar decentralisation of power across England. Following a referendum in 1998, a directly elected administrative body was created for Greater London, the Greater London Authority. Proposals to devolve political power to fully elected bodies English Regional Assemblies was put to public vote in the Northern England devolution referendums, 2004. Originally three referendums were planned, but following a decisive rejection of the plans by voters in North East England, further referendums were abandoned. Although moves towards English regional devolution were called off, the Regions of England continue to be used in certain governmental administrative functions.
There have been proposals for the establishment of a single devolved English Parliament to govern the affairs of England as a whole. This has been supported by groups such as English Commonwealth, the English Democrats and Campaign for an English Parliament, as well as the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru who have both expressed support for greater autonomy for all four nations while ultimately striving for a dissolution of the Union. Without its own devolved Parliament, England continues to be governed and legislated for by the UK Government and UK Parliament which gives rise to the West Lothian question. The question concerns the fact that, on devolved matters, Scottish MPs continue to help make laws that apply to England alone, although no English MPs can make laws on those same matters for Scotland. Since the Scottish independence referendum, 2014 there has been a wider debate about the UK adopting a federal system with each of the four home nations having its own, equal devolved legislatures and law-making powers.
In the first five years of devolution for Scotland and Wales, support in England for the establishment of an English parliament was low at between 16 and 19 per cent. While a 2007 opinion poll found that 61 per cent would support such a parliament being established, a report based on the British Social Attitudes Survey published in December 2010 suggests that only 29 per cent of people in England support the establishment of an English parliament, though this figure has risen from 17 per cent in 2007. John Curtice argues that tentative signs of increased support for an English parliament might represent "a form of English nationalism...beginning to emerge among the general public". Krishan Kumar, however, notes that support for measures to ensure that only English MPs can vote on legislation that applies only to England is generally higher than that for the establishment of an English parliament, although support for both varies depending on the timing of the opinion poll and the wording of the question.
In September 2011 it was announced that the British government was to set up a commission to examine the West Lothian question. In January 2012 it was announced that this six-member commission would be named the Commission on the consequences of devolution for the House of Commons, would be chaired by former Clerk of the House of Commons, Sir William McKay, and would have one member from each of the devolved countries. The McKay Commission reported in March 2013.
On 22 October 2015 The House of Commons voted in favour of implementing a system of "English votes for English laws" by 312 votes to 270 after four hours of intense debate. Amendments to the proposed standing orders put forward by both Labour and The Liberal Democrats were defeated. Scottish National Party MPs criticized the measures stating that the bill would render Scottish MPs as "second class citizens". Under the new procedures, if the Speaker of The House determines if a proposed bill or statutory instrument exclusively affects England, England and Wales or England, Wales and Northern Ireland, then legislative consent should be obtained via a Legislative Grand Committee. This process will be performed at the second reading of a bill or instrument and is currently undergoing a trial period, as an attempt at answering the West Lothian question.
There is a movement that supports devolution in Cornwall. A law-making Cornish Assembly is party policy for the Liberal Democrats, Mebyon Kernow, Plaid Cymru and the Greens. A Cornish Constitutional Convention was set up in 2001 with the goal of establishing a Cornish Assembly. Several Cornish Liberal Democrat MPs such as Andrew George, Dan Rogerson and former MP Matthew Taylor are strong supporters of Cornish devolution.
On 12 December 2001, the Cornish Constitutional Convention and Mebyon Kernow submitted a 50,000-strong petition supporting devolution in Cornwall to 10 Downing Street. This was over 10% of the Cornish electorate, the figure that the government had stated was the criteria for calling a referendum on the issue. In December 2007 Cornwall Council leader David Whalley stated that "There is something inevitable about the journey to a Cornish Assembly".
A poll carried out by Survation for the University of Exeter in November 2014 found that 60% were in favour of power being devolved from Westminster to Cornwall, with only 19% opposed and 49% were in favour of the creation of a Cornish Assembly, with 31% opposed.
In January 2015 Labour's Shadow Chancellor promised the delivery of a Cornish assembly in the next parliament if Labour are elected. Ed Balls made the statement whilst on a visit to Cornwall College in Camborne and it signifies a turn around in policy for the Labour party who in government prior to 2010 voted against the Government of Cornwall Bill 2008-09.
The Yorkshire Devolution Movement is an all party and no party campaign group campaigning for a directly elected parliament for the whole of the traditional county of Yorkshire with powers second to no other devolved administration in the UK.
Arguments for devolution to Yorkshire, which has a population of 5.4 million – similar to Scotland – and whose economy is roughly twice as large as that of Wales. focus on the area as a cultural region or even a nation separate from England, whose inhabitants share common features.
The Northern Party seeks to establish a Regional Government for the North of England covering the six historic counties of the region. The Campaign aims to create a Northern Government with tax-raising powers and responsibility for policy areas including economic development, education, health, policing and emergency services. In 2004, a referendum on devolution for North East England took place, in which devolution was defeated 78% to 22%.
The legislatures of the Crown dependencies are not devolved as their origins predate the establishment of the United Kingdom and their attachment to the British Crown, and the Crown Dependencies are not part of the United Kingdom. However, the United Kingdom has redefined its formal relationship with the Crown Dependencies since the late 20th century.
Crown dependencies are possessions of the British Crown, as opposed to overseas territories or colonies of the United Kingdom. They comprise the Channel Island bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey, and the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea.
For several hundred years, each has had its own separate legislature, government and judicial system. However, as possessions of the Crown they are not sovereign nations in their own right and the British Government is responsible for the overall good governance of the islands and represents the islands in international law. Acts of the UK Parliament are normally only extended to the islands only with their specific consent. Each of the islands is represented on the British-Irish Council.
The Lord Chancellor, a post in the UK Government, is responsible for relations between the government and the Channel Islands. All insular legislation must be approved by the Queen in Council and the Lord Chancellor is responsible for proposing the legislation on the Privy Council. He can refuse to propose insular legislation or can propose it for the Queen's approval.
In 2007–2008, each Crown Dependency and the UK signed agreements that established frameworks for the development of the international identity of each Crown Dependency. Among the points clarified in the agreements were that:
Jersey has moved further than the other two Crown dependencies in asserting its autonomy from the United Kingdom. The preamble to the States of Jersey Law 2005 declares that 'it is recognized that Jersey has autonomous capacity in domestic affairs' and 'it is further recognized that there is an increasing need for Jersey to participate in matters of international affairs'. In July 2005, the Policy and Resources Committee of the States of Jersey established the Constitutional Review Group, chaired by Sir Philip Bailhache, with terms of reference 'to conduct a review and evaluation of the potential advantages and disadvantages for Jersey in seeking independence from the United Kingdom or other incremental change in the constitutional relationship, while retaining the Queen as Head of State'. The Group's 'Second Interim Report' was presented to the States by the Council of Ministers in June 2008. In January 2011, one of Jersey's Council of Ministers was for the first time designated as having responsibility for external relations and is often described as the island's 'foreign minister'. Proposals for Jersey independence have not, however, gained significant political or popular support. In October 2012 the Council of Ministers issued a "Common policy for external relations" that set out a number of principles for the conduct of external relations in accordance with existing undertakings and agreements. This document noted that Jersey "is a self-governing, democratic country with the power of self-determination" and "that it is not Government policy to seek independence from the United Kingdom, but rather to ensure that Jersey is prepared if it were in the best interests of Islanders to do so". On the basis of the established principles the Council of Ministers decided to "ensure that Jersey is prepared for external change that may affect the Island’s formal relationship with the United Kingdom and/or European Union".
There is also public debate in Guernsey about the possibility of independence. In 2009, however, an official group reached the provisional view that becoming a microstate would be undesirable  and it is not supported by Guernsey's Chief Minister.
In 2010, the governments of Jersey and Guernsey jointly created the post of director of European affairs, based in Brussels, to represent the interests of the islands to European Union policy-makers.
Since 2010 the Lieutenant Governors of each Crown dependency have been recommended to the Crown by a panel in each respective Crown dependency; this replaced the previous system of the appointments being made by the Crown on the recommendation of UK ministers.
Northern Ireland, Scotland & Wales enjoy different levels of legislative, administrative and budgetary autonomy. The table shows the areas and degree of autonomy and budgetary independence. Exclusive means that the devolved administration has exclusive powers in this policy area. Shared means that some areas of policy in the specific area are not under the control of the devolved administration. For example, while policing and criminal law may be a competence of the Scottish Government, the UK Government remains responsible for anti-terrorism and coordinates serious crime through the NCA.
|Law & order|
|Local Administration Organisation & Finance||Exclusive||Exclusive||Exclusive|
|Social & health policy|
|Public Pensions (devolved administration)||Shared||Shared|
|Pensions & Child Support||Parity|
|Social Services (Housing & Student Support)||Exclusive||Exclusive||Exclusive|
|food safety and standards||Exclusive||Exclusive||Exclusive|
|Economy, environment & transport|
|Agricult., Forestary & Fisheries||Exclusive||Exclusive||Exclusive|
|Culture & education|
|Primary & Secondary Education||Exclusive||Exclusive||Exclusive|
|University & Professional Education||Exclusive||Exclusive||Exclusive|
|Sport & recreation||Exclusive||Exclusive||Exclusive|
|Resources & spending|
|Own Tax resources||Yes||Yes||No|
|Allocation by UK Government||Barnett Formula||Barnett Formula||Barnett Formula|
|Other resources||Co-payments (Health & education)||Co-payments (Health & education)||Co-payments (Health & education)|
|Resources||0% own resources||0% own resources||0% own resources|
|Devolved Spending as % of total public spending||63%||60%||50%|
The Greater London Authority referendum of 1998 was a referendum held in Greater London on 7 May 1998, asking whether there was support for the creation of a Greater London Authority, composed of a directly elected Mayor of London and a London Assembly to scrutinise the Mayor's actions. Voter turnout was low, at just 34.1%. The referendum was held under the provisions of the Greater London Authority (Referendum) Act 1998.2004 North East England devolution referendum
The North East England devolution referendum was an all postal ballot referendum that took place on 4 November 2004 throughout North East England on whether or not to establish an elected assembly for the region. Devolution referendums in the regions of Northern England were initially proposed under provisions of the Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Act 2003. Initially, three referendums were planned, but only one took place. The votes concerned the question of devolving limited political powers from the UK Parliament to elected regional assemblies in North East England, North West England and Yorkshire and the Humber respectively. Each were initially planned to be held on 4 November 2004, but on 22 July 2004 the planned referendums in North West England and in Yorkshire and the Humber were postponed, due to concerns raised about the use of postal ballots, but the referendum in North East England was allowed to continue, particularly as it was assumed that the region held the most support for the proposed devolution.
On 4 November 2004, voters in the North East rejected the proposal, in an all-postal ballot, by 77.9% to 22.1%, on a turnout of 48%. Every council area in the region had a majority for "no". The referendum was held in what was arguably Labour's strongest region within the United Kingdom. The defeat marked the end of the Labour Government's policy of devolution for England, and the other proposed referendums for the North West and for Yorkshire and the Humber were dropped indefinitely. This would be the last major devolution referendum to be held in any part of the United Kingdom under the Labour Government of 1997–2010.
The campaign against the proposed Assembly was successfully led by local businessman John Elliott, who argued that the institution would have no real powers and that it would be a "white elephant" and too centric to Newcastle upon Tyne.
This was the first major referendum to be held in any part of the United Kingdom which was conducted and overseen by the Electoral Commission after its establishment in 2000 under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.Acting Witan of Mercia
The Acting Witan of Mercia is a radical political organisation based in the greater Midlands of England. It believes that the United Kingdom is in illegal occupation of the ancient English region of Mercia, as a result of the Norman Conquest and the perceived Norman Yoke, and the Acting Witan claims to be its de jure and acting government.Barnett formula
The Barnett formula is a mechanism used by the Treasury in the United Kingdom to automatically adjust the amounts of public expenditure allocated to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to reflect changes in spending levels allocated to public services in England, England and Wales or Great Britain, as appropriate. The formula applies to a large proportion, but not the whole, of the devolved governments' budgets − in 2013–14 it applied to about 85% of the Scottish Parliament's total budget.The formula is named after Joel Barnett, who devised it in 1978 while Chief Secretary to the Treasury, as a short-term solution to minor Cabinet disputes in the runup to planned political devolution in 1979. Despite the failure of that initiative, the formula was retained to facilitate additional administrative devolution in the Conservative governments of 1979 to 1997 under prime ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major, and then in the context of the political devolution of the Labour governments led by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and the coalition government of David Cameron. The government still declares its intention to continue to use it as the basis for funding the three devolved governments.
The Barnett formula is said to have "no legal standing or democratic justification", and, being merely a convention, could be changed at will by the Treasury. In recent years, Barnett himself has called it a "terrible mistake". In 2009, the House of Lords Select Committee on the Barnett Formula concluded that "the Barnett Formula should no longer be used to determine annual increases in the block grant for the United Kingdom's devolved administrations... A new system which allocates resources to the devolved administrations based on an explicit assessment of their relative needs should be introduced."Following the September 2014 Scottish independence referendum, the Barnett formula came to widespread attention amid concerns that in a last-minute government bid to sway voters against independence, Scotland had been promised continued high public spending.Block grant (United States)
Block grant (United States) refers to a grant-in-aid of a specified amount from the Federal government of the United States to individual states and local governments to help support various broad purpose programs, such as law enforcement, social services, public health, and community development. Block grants have less oversight from the federal government and provide flexibility to each state in terms of designing and implementing programs. Block grants, categorical grants, and general revenue sharing are three types of federal government grants-in-aid programs.Campaign for the North
Campaign for the North is a Think Tank which seeks to address the North-South Divide and establish a Regional Government for the North of England covering the six historic counties of the region. The Campaign promotes a devo-max settlement and, in doing so, aims to create a Northern Government with tax-raising powers and responsibility for policy areas including economic development, education, health, policing and emergency services.Commission on the consequences of devolution for the House of Commons
The Commission on the consequences of devolution for the House of Commons, also known as the McKay Commission, was an independent commission established in the United Kingdom to consider issues arising from devolution in the United Kingdom and their effect on the workings of the House of Commons. In the statement made by the government when setting up the commission, it referred to the West Lothian Question, a term coined in 1977 to refer to anomalies existing in the pre-devolution government of the UK.The commission, chaired by Sir William McKay, considered changes to the procedures of the House of Commons in relation to legislation that only affects part of the UK. It started its work in February 2012 and reported in March 2013. It recommended that future legislation affecting England but not other parts of the UK should require the support of a majority of MPs sitting for English constituencies.Cornish Assembly
A Cornish Assembly (Cornish: Senedh Kernow) is a proposed devolved law-making assembly for Cornwall along the lines of the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly in the United Kingdom.
The campaign for Cornish devolution began in 2000 with the founding of the Cornish Constitutional Convention, a cross-party, cross-sector association that campaigns for devolution to Cornwall. In 2001, the Convention sent 50,000 individually signed declarations calling for a Cornish Assembly to 10 Downing Street, during the then-government's attempt at introducing regional assemblies, however the call went unanswered. The act of turning Cornwall County Council into a unitary authority in 2009 was based on the idea that it would give Cornwall a stronger voice and be a "stepping stone" to a Cornish Assembly, and a "Government of Cornwall" bill was introduced to the UK Parliament in the same year by Cornish MP Dan Rogerson, but did not succeed.Following the announcement of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, and with promises of more devolution across the UK from Westminster politicians, there have been renewed calls for devolution to Cornwall. In November 2014 a petition was launched on the government petitions website campaigning for a Cornish Assembly. A law-making Cornish Assembly is party policy for the Liberal Democrats, Mebyon Kernow and the Greens.Devolved English parliament
A devolved English parliament or assembly is a proposed institution that would give separate decision-making powers to representatives for voters in England, similar to the representation given by the National Assembly for Wales, Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly. A devolved English parliament is an issue in the politics of the United Kingdom.
Public opinion surveys have resulted in widely differing conclusions on public support for the establishment of a devolved English parliament.English votes for English laws
English votes for English laws (EVEL) is a set of procedures of the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom whereby legislation which affects only England requires the support of a majority of MPs representing English constituencies. The procedures were developed following devolution in the United Kingdom as a result of the West Lothian question, a concern about the perceived inequity of MPs from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, sitting in the House of Commons being able to vote on matters that affected only England, while MPs from England were unable to vote on matters that had been devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly.During the 2000s a number of pieces of legislation which affected only or mainly England were passed by the UK Parliament, although the votes cast by MPs were such that the legislation would not have been passed if only the votes cast by MPs representing English constituencies had been counted. The opposition Conservative Party commissioned a report, "Devolution, The West Lothian Question and the Future of the Union", which proposed some procedural changes restricting the participation of MPs representing non-English constituencies during the passage of bills relating only to England.
While the Conservatives were in government from 2010–15 in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, they set up the McKay Commission to look into the question. The Commission proposed that bills in the House of Commons which affected England solely or differently should require a majority vote of MPs representing English constituencies. The Conservative manifesto for the 2015 general election included a proposal that England-only legislation should require approval from a Legislative Grand Committee prior to its Third Reading in the House of Commons. Having won a majority in that election, the Conservative government used a change in standing orders in October 2015 to give MPs representing English constituencies a "veto" over laws only affecting England.Joint Ministerial Committee (UK)
In the United Kingdom, the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC), (Welsh: Y Cyd-bwyllgor Gweinidogion), is a consultative body established by a memorandum of understanding between the UK Government and devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The JMC seeks to act as a focus for the coordination of the relationships between these administrations.Legislatures of the United Kingdom
The Legislatures of the United Kingdom are derived from a number of different sources from both within the UK and through membership of the European Union. The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body for the United Kingdom and the British overseas territories with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each having their own devolved legislatures. Each of the three major jurisdictions of the United Kingdom (England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) has its own laws and legal system.Lerwick Declaration
The Lerwick Declaration refers to an announcement made by First Minister Alex Salmond on behalf of the Scottish Government on 25 July 2013, which revealed that a ministerial working group would examine the prospect of decentralising power to Shetland, Orkney, and the Western Isles.The declaration was made in response to the Our Islands - Our Future campaign launched in June 2013, in which the leaders of Scotland's island councils—Shetland Islands Council, Orkney Islands Council, and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar—called for greater autonomy for the islands. The campaign was designed to capitalise on discussions raised by the Scottish independence referendum, 2014, though the campaign itself is neutral on the topic of Scottish independence.National Conversation
The National Conversation was the name given to the Scottish Government's public consultation exercise regarding possible future changes in the power of the devolved Scottish Parliament and the possibility of Scottish independence, a policy objective of the Scottish National Party, who at the time were the minority government with power over devolved affairs in Scotland, as the Scottish Government. It culminated in a multi-option white paper for a proposed Referendum (Scotland) Bill, 2010.Poll tax (Great Britain)
The Community Charge, commonly known as the poll tax, was a system of taxation introduced in replacement of domestic rates in Scotland from 1989, prior to its introduction in England and Wales from 1990. It provided for a single flat-rate per-capita tax on every adult, at a rate set by the local authority. The charge was replaced by Council Tax in 1993, two years after its abolition was announced.Reserved and excepted matters
In the United Kingdom reserved matters and excepted matters are the areas of government policy where the UK Parliament had kept the exclusive power (jurisdiction) to make laws (legislate) in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Each of these nations has been granted autonomy within the UK; therefore some power has been decentralised to them from the central government at Westminster and some has been withheld.
They are also known as reserved matters and act as a guide for which areas are devolved to those three nations and which are not. The powers are set out in three main laws for each of those nations and subsequent amendments which further devolved powers to the respective legislatures:
Scotland Act 1998 amended by the Scotland Act 2012 and the Scotland Act 2016.
Northern Ireland Act 1998 amended by the Northern Ireland Act 2006.
Government of Wales Act 1998 amended by the Government of Wales Act 2006, the Wales Act 2014 and the Wales Act 2017In Scotland, a list of reserved matters is explicitly listed in the Scotland Act. Any matter not explicitly listed in the Act is implicitly decentralised to the Scottish Parliament.
In Northern Ireland, the powers of the Northern Ireland Assembly do not cover reserved matters or excepted matters. In theory, reserved matters could be devolved at a later date, but excepted matters were not supposed to be considered for further devolution. In practice, the difference is minor as Parliament is responsible for all the powers on both lists and must give its consent to devolve them.
In Wales, by contrast, a list of matters was explicitly devolved to the National Assembly for Wales and any matter not listed in the Act was implicitly reserved to Westminster. However, Wales has now moved to a reserved powers model (similar to Scotland) under the provisions contained within the Wales Act 2017.Royal Commission on the Constitution (United Kingdom)
The Royal Commission on the Constitution, also referred to as the Kilbrandon Commission (initially the Crowther Commission) or Kilbrandon Report, was a long-running royal commission set up by Harold Wilson's Labour government to examine the structures of the constitution of the United Kingdom and the British Islands and the government of its constituent countries, and to consider whether any changes should be made to those structures. It was started under Lord Crowther on 15 April 1969, Lord Kilbrandon took over in 1972, and it finally reported on 31 October 1973.Various models of devolution, federalism and confederalism were considered, as well as the prospect of the division of the UK into separate sovereign states. Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man were dealt with separately from the core issue of Scotland and Wales.
A total of 16 volumes of evidence and 10 research papers were published between 1969 and 1973. The final report was delivered to Edward Heath's Conservative Government, which had come to power at the general election in June 1970. The report rejected the options of independence or federalism, in favour of devolved, directly elected Scottish and Welsh assemblies. Two members of the Commission, Lord Crowther-Hunt and Professor Alan Peacock, did not sign the report, disagreeing with the interpretation of the terms of reference and the conclusions. Their views were published in a separate Memorandum of Dissent.Smith Commission
The Smith Commission was announced by Prime Minister David Cameron on 19 September 2014 in the wake of the 'No' vote in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. The establishment of the commission was part of the process of fulfilling The Vow made by the leaders of the three main unionist parties during the last days of the referendum campaign. The Vow promised the devolution of more powers from the Parliament of the United Kingdom to the Scottish Parliament in the event of a No vote.
Following the No vote, Lord Smith of Kelvin was given the task to "convene cross-party talks and facilitate an inclusive engagement process across Scotland to produce, by 30 November 2014, Heads of Agreement with recommendations for further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament". Ten representatives were nominated by the political parties with elected members in the Scottish Parliament; the Commission started its discussions on 22 October. Agreement was reached and the report published on 27 November 2014.Following the Conservative election victory at the 2015 UK General Election, the Scotland Bill 2015–16 was proposed in the first Queen's Speech, to put into effect the recommendations of the Smith Commission.West Lothian question
The West Lothian question, also known as the English question, is a political issue in the United Kingdom. It concerns the question of whether MPs from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, sitting in the House of Commons should be able to vote on matters that affect only England, while MPs from England are unable to vote on matters that have been devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly. The term West Lothian question was coined by Enoch Powell MP in 1977 after Tam Dalyell, the Labour MP for the Scottish constituency of West Lothian, raised the matter repeatedly in House of Commons debates on devolution.In 2011 the UK Government set up the Commission on the consequences of devolution for the House of Commons, chaired by Sir William McKay, former Clerk of the House of Commons, to examine the question. The commission published a report in 2013 which proposed various procedural changes, including the recommendation that legislation which affects only England should require the support of a majority of MPs representing English constituencies. This recommendation was known as English votes for English laws. Following the election of a Conservative majority government in the 2015 general election, new parliamentary procedures and a Legislative Grand Committee were enacted to bring it into effect.
United Kingdom articles
Devolution in the United Kingdom
|Heads of devolved governments|
|Organisations and laws of the|
legislatures and governments
of the UK and the devolved areas
1. Rejected referendums are italicised. The others were fully or partially approved.
2. There is no law-making body for any regionally devolved area.
3. Administrations of regionally devolved areas are omitted.