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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, Great Britain (England, Wales, and Scotland) formed a centralized political unit, with policymaking 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 brought to an end by the UK government in 1972 amid mounting civil unrest and paramilitary violence. At the local level, there are more than 400 local authorities throughout the United Kingdom. These vary considerably in size, both in terms of their territorial area that they cover and their populations.

Chapter

Cover The Changing Constitution

11. The Welsh Way/Y Ffordd Gymreig  

Richard Rawlings

Welsh constitutional development in recent times is characterized by a convoluted and ongoing set of legislative transformations and by the emergence of a distinct policy approach not only for the sub-state polity itself but also under the banner of a ‘new Union’ for the United Kingdom as a whole. Examination of the design and dynamics of the Wales Act 2017 serves to illuminate the difficulties and rewards of the territorial constitutional journey, especially in terms of central government conservatism in the face of principled argument and of the scope afforded for home-grown democratic renewal. In terms of the extended Brexit process, where competing conceptions of the UK territorial constitution are brought to the fore, the Welsh Labour Government is seen combatting potentials for centralization under the rubric of a ‘UK internal market’, deal-making in the name of mutual benefit, and championing a new brand of shared governance in the UK. Today, the workings of the justice system in Wales are being examined on their own for the first time in two centuries by an independent commission established by the Welsh Government. With a new stage in the Welsh constitutional journey in prospect, a series of foundational questions is raised. This chapter reviews the key elements of the arrangements made for devolving legislative and executive power to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, explaining how these arrangements have developed over time and are still doing so. Particular attention is paid to the implications of the result of the independence referendum in Scotland in September 2014, not just for Scotland but also for England. Consideration is given to how mechanisms for making devolution work more effectively might be devised and to what the effects might be on devolution if the UK’s membership of the EU or its commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights are seriously called into question.

Chapter

Cover Public Law

9. Devolution  

Devolution refers to the decentralization of power from central institutions in London to regional institutions exercising executive and legislative authority in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. This chapter explores the principle of devolution, both in terms of its historical development and its constitutional importance. It discusses recent issues and debates relevant to the role that it continues to play in the UK Constitution through the established institutions in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. All this is tied together in consideration of a problem scenario which encourages discussion of the powers of the devolved institutions and their relationship with centralized authority at Westminster.

Chapter

Cover The Changing Constitution

14. Federalism  

John McEldowney

Federalism, to date, has proved unattractive to the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom is commonly described as a unitary state, whereby governmental power is primarily exercised through a sovereign Parliament at Westminster. The UK may be distinguished from Federal countries, notably the United States or Germany. In federal systems, sovereign power is shared between the federal government and the states. However, the description of the United Kingdom as a unitary state is an oversimplification as there are many instances of devolved, shared and autonomous powers that do not easily fit under a centralized view of the state. These ‘quasi-federal’ elements of the constitution arise through the UK Parliament delegating to regional and local communities a variety of powers and responsibilities through elected local and municipal authorities as well as devolved ‘deals’. Since 1989, powers have been distributed to the four nations of the United Kingdom: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland through extensive, and increasing, devolved powers (devolution) including a variety of tax-raising powers. There is also a London Assembly with devolved powers. The future of the UK after Brexit is uncertain and there are deep divisions of opinion. England and Wales voted for Brexit while London, Northern Ireland and Scotland voted to remain within the EU. Different constitutional configurations were suggested for the four nations, during the nineteenth century, including federalism, Irish home rule and independence as well as strengthening local government. No exact definition of federalism emerged from the different variations supported at one time or another during this period. Consequently supporters of federalism have struggled to have a single configuration to make their case. Overall federalism was rejected as inconsistent with the orthodoxy of a unitary state formed from an incorporating union centred around a sovereign Parliament. Has the extent of substantial devolved and delegated powers reached a tipping point that places a form of divisible federalism as a way of addressing current concerns and controversies including Brexit? Any formal adoption of federalism would alter the role of the UK Supreme Court as well as future relations with the EU after Brexit. Federalism might provide a mechanism for a changing unitary state to address 21st-century challenges amidst a perceptible shift to a ‘quasi-federal’ state with devolved governments and many shared or delegated powers.

Chapter

Cover Essential Cases: Public Law

Imperial Tobacco Ltd v The Lord Advocate (Scotland) [2012] UKSC 61, Supreme Court  

Essential Cases: Public Law provides a bridge between course textbooks and key case judgments. This case document summarizes the facts and decision in Imperial Tobacco Ltd v The Lord Advocate (Scotland) [2012] UKSC 61, Supreme Court. This case concerned the devolved legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament, the powers reserved to the Westminster Parliament under the Scotland Act 1998, and how these provisions should be interpreted. The statutory interpretation of constitutional legislation is also considered. The document also includes supporting commentary and questions from author Thomas Webb.

Chapter

Cover Essential Cases: Public Law

Imperial Tobacco Ltd v The Lord Advocate (Scotland) [2012] UKSC 61, Supreme Court  

Essential Cases: Public Law provides a bridge between course textbooks and key case judgments. This case document summarizes the facts and decision in Imperial Tobacco Ltd v The Lord Advocate (Scotland) [2012] UKSC 61, Supreme Court. This case concerned the devolved legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament, the powers reserved to the Westminster Parliament under the Scotland Act 1998, and how these provisions should be interpreted. The statutory interpretation of constitutional legislation is also considered. The document also includes supporting commentary and questions from author Thomas Webb.

Chapter

Cover Administrative Law

4. Local and Devolved Government  

Sir William Wade and Christopher Forsyth

This chapter begins with a discussion of various aspects of local government including its historical development, principal functions, operations and proceedings, revenues, audit system, and central influence and control. It then describes the legal status and responsibilities of the police force and self-government in Scotland and Wales.

Chapter

Cover Wade & Forsyth's Administrative Law

4. Local and Devolved Government  

Sir William Wade, Christopher Forsyth, and Julian Ghosh

This chapter begins with a discussion of various aspects of local government including its historical development, principal functions, operations and proceedings, revenues, audit system and central influence and control. It then describes the legal status and responsibilities of the police force and self-government in Scotland and Wales.

Chapter

Cover Constitutional and Administrative Law

7. The structure of the United Kingdom and devolution  

This chapter discusses the structure of the UK and devolution. It first sketches the constitutional history of the UK, presenting a brief outline of events that led to its creation, that is, the union of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. The chapter then examines the issue of devolution, which has been particularly important to the people of Scotland and Wales. The key provisions of the devolution legislation enacted in 1998 and more recent legislative developments are reviewed. The chapter concludes by considering the agreements between the UK Government and the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, in particular the Memorandum of Understanding, and the devolution provisions in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 which facilitated Brexit.

Chapter

Cover Complete Public Law

10. Devolution and Parliamentary Supremacy  

Titles in the Complete series combine extracts from a wide range of primary materials with clear explanatory text to provide readers with a complete introductory resource. Devolution can be defined as the conferral of powers by a central governing institution on a regional or national governing body, without the central institution having to concede legislative supremacy. Such devolved powers can be administrative, executive, or legislative in nature. The process of devolving such powers to three of the UK’s four nations—England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland—was initiated by the passing of the Devolution Acts of 1998. This chapter begins by tracing the history of devolution and then discusses the ways that power can be devolved and the roles and powers of the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, and the Northern Ireland Assembly. It addresses the question of whether there should there be an English Parliament and, finally, examines the effects of devolution on parliamentary supremacy, as well as the effects the UK’s exit from the EU has had on the devolution settlement.

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).

Chapter

Cover Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, and Human Rights

12. The Governance of Scotland and Wales  

This chapter examines how the constitution has addressed the question of the geographical separation of government power in the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, and Wales, and discusses the Scotland Act 1998 and the Government of Wales Acts of 1998 and 2006. It argues that although the Scotland Act 1998 and Government of Wales Act 2006 fall short of creating a ‘federal’ UK constitution similar to how the notion is understood in the United States, the constitutional significance of the devolution legislation should not be underestimated. The chapter also discusses the conduct and outcome of the 2014 independence referendum in Scotland. Consideration is given to the leading Supreme Court judgments on the nature and extent of the Scots Parliament’s legislative powers, and to the contents and implications of the Scotland Act 2016.

Chapter

Cover The Changing Constitution

2. Parliamentary Sovereignty in a Changing Constitutional Landscape  

Mark Elliott

Parliamentary sovereignty is often presented as the central principle of the United Kingdom’s constitution. In this sense, it might be thought to be a constant: a fixed point onto which we can lock, even when the constitution is otherwise in a state of flux. That the constitution presently is—and has for some time been— in a state of flux is hard to dispute. Over the last half-century or so, a number of highly significant developments have occurred, including the UK’s joining— and now leaving—the European Union; the enactment of the Human Rights Act 1998; the devolution of legislative and administrative authority to new institutions in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh; and the increasing prominence accorded by the courts to the common law as a repository of fundamental constitutional rights and values. Each of these developments raises important questions about the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty. The question might be thought of in terms of the doctrine’s capacity to withstand, or accommodate, developments that may, at least at first glance, appear to be in tension with it. Such an analysis seems to follow naturally if we are wedded to an orthodox, and perhaps simplistic, account of parliamentary sovereignty, according to which the concept is understood in unyielding and absolutist terms: as something that is brittle, and which must either stand or fall in the face of changing circumstances. Viewed from a different angle, however, the developments of recent years and decades might be perceived as an opportunity to think about parliamentary sovereignty in a different, and arguably more useful, way—by considering how the implications of this still-central concept are being shaped by the changing nature of the constitutional landscape within which it sits. That is the task with which this chapter is concerned.

Chapter

Cover Cases and Materials on Constitutional and Administrative Law

8. Devolution  

This chapter focuses on devolution. The nature of the asymmetrical devolution of legislative and executive power to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland is outlined, along with the position in England, with the ongoing change to these arrangements analysed. Some issues related to devolution which have been raised in the UK courts are then considered, with the chapter using a range of examples in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to discuss the extent to which the devolution settlement is dynamic and continuing to change. It concludes by exploring the impact of Brexit on devolution in particular.