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Cover Public Law

8. Devolution and The Territorial Constitution  

This chapter focuses on the UK’s territorial constitution, that is, the governance arrangements that result in power being dispersed rather than concentrated in a single set of national institutions. Devolution involved creating new governments in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales, and investing them with powers that were previously exercised at a UK level. Devolution in the UK is therefore intended to be part of the answer to questions that must be confronted in all political systems: where should governmental power lie? And at what level should laws be enacted and the business of government transacted? Local government plays a key role in decision-making, policy formulation, and the delivery of public services across a wide range of areas, including education, housing, personal social services, transport, and planning control.

Chapter

Cover Public Law

6. Multilevel Governing Within the United Kingdom  

This chapter examines multilevel governing within the UK. It is organized around three levels of governing: national, regional, and local. For most of the twentieth century, mainland Great Britain (England, Wales, and Scotland) formed a centralized political unit, with policy-making and law-making being led by the UK government and the UK Parliament. There was devolved government in Northern Ireland from 1922, but this was ended by the UK government in 1972 amid mounting civil unrest and paramilitary violence. At the local level, there are 382 principal councils (unitary, upper, and second tier) throughout the United Kingdom. These vary considerably in size, both in terms of their territorial area that they cover and their populations. This chapter discusses how the introduction of devolved government in 1998 has altered the governance arrangements in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It also examines how devolution affects the territorial constitution, (see Section 6.4), intergovernmental relations with Westminster (see Section 6.5), and the governance of England (see Section 6.6).