Introduction to Devolved Government
Many countries that are either large in area, such as Australia, or contain different cultural identities, such as Switzerland, or both, such as Canada, have developed a Federal System. This allows sovereignty to be shared between a central government with a federal parliament, which has power over areas such as foreign affairs and economic policy, and state/provincial/canton governments and parliaments which deal with policies such as education, agriculture, health and transport for their areas. The country’s constitution defines the respective powers of the two levels.
The United Kingdom has instead, developed a Devolved System, in which some parts of the UK have had powers handed down to them from Westminster and Whitehall by an Act of Parliament. This could be changed by a future Westminster Parliament and, indeed, extra powers have been granted since the original devolution legislation. Powers could also be taken back by Westminster though this is likely to be politically difficult. The devolved Governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland now control a wide range of policy areas and can pass their own legislation in relation to them. English affairs are still controlled by the British Government and the Westminster Parliament.