devolution

devolution
   Devolution involves the transfer of significant duties and powers from a higher authority to a lower one – for example, from a central government to subordinate regional forms. The transfer stops short of any cession of sovereignty, so that powers devolved can always be taken back by the higher authority. Devolution usually comes about as a result of dissatisfaction with centralised government when ministers appear to be unwilling to recognise local needs.
   Since coming to power in 1997, Labour has devolved power on a substantial scale and several new institutions have been created, notably the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh National Assembly. The changes amount to a fundamental restructuring of the United Kingdom, leading some to view them as steps along the road to the creation of a federal state. But devolution is distinct from federalism, in which sovereignty is shared between a central or federal government and the provincial governments, their respective powers being defined by a written constitution. Devolution does not require the introduction of any such document and there is no sharing of sovereignty. Devolution has been the British route to decentralisation, so that power remains theoretically in Westminster’s hands although it is politically hard to imagine any administration in London seeking to recover control over areas that have been delegated to Edinburgh or Cardiff.
   Further reading: R. Deacon and A. Sandry, Devolution in the United Kingdom, Edinburgh University Press, 2007

Glossary of UK Government and Politics . 2013.

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