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How Far Has Devolution Diluted Central Governmental Control

4225 words - 17 pages

To what extent has devolution of power diluted the central control of the Cabinet and government within the British state.

At present, the UK Parliament in Westminster is the supreme political assembly. The UK Parliament is one of the oldest representative assemblies in the world. Parliamentary government in the United Kingdom is based on a two-chamber system. The House of Lords (the upper House) and the House of Commons (the lower house), which sit separately and are constituted on entirely different principles. The legislative process involves both Houses. This has been the case since the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215.

The mechanisms of such a great machine as British ...view middle of the document...

It comprises the Cabinet Secretariat and the Office of Public Service and Science. The Cabinet Secretariat serves ministers collectively in the ways of Cabinet business, and in the co-ordination of policy at the highest level.

This has essentially been the way of British politics for centuries. However, the political world is shifting under our feet, and devolution and nationalism have come to the forefront of modern political debates.

Devolution, as described by Lord Melrose, “is the delegation of power to local or regional administration, so power is dispersed from a superior to an inferior political authority, or to be more precise it consists of a sub-ordinate elected body on a geographical basis of functions at present exercised by Parliament.”

i. Scottish Parliament

Due to the implementation of the Scotland Act 1998, the Wales Act 1998 and the 1998 British-Irish Agreement, Britain now has three forms of devolved government.

The Scottish form of devolution was drafted upon the basis that the Scottish Parliament would be responsible for legislation in all areas that were not specifically retained by Westminster.

The Scottish Parliament resides in Hollyrood, Edinburgh and until recently was headed by Sir Henry McLeish following the death of Donald Dewer whilst in the position of First Minister. It is a single chamber legislature of 129 members. The Parliament is assisted in its administrative duties by the Scottish Executive. It is responsible for most of the issues of day-to-day concern to the people of Scotland, including health, education, justice, rural affairs, and transport, and manages an annual budget of around 20 billion. The Executive is led by a First Minister who is nominated by the Parliament and in turn appoints the other Scottish Ministers.

Scottish Executive civil servants are accountable to Scottish Ministers, who are themselves accountable to the Scottish Parliament. Originally, Scottish affairs were executed by the British Cabinet and were headed by the secretary of state for Scotland. Five main departments of equal status: the Department of Agriculture and fisheries of Scotland, the Scottish Development Department, the Scottish Education Department, the Scottish Home and Health Department, and the Industry Department for Scotland perform the statutory functions of the secretary of state.

MSPs are elected through a hybrid system known as Additional Members system (AMS) or the Additional List system (ALS). These systems hold similarities with the d’Hondt system used for European elections. The Scottish system is based upon the election of seven constituency MSPs by the ‘First Past the post’ system thus mirroring the UK system of election. Upon this number, fifty-six extra seats are added. This inclusion is based upon a second ballot where voters select a political party of their choice. In the Scottish context, voters are grouped into ‘Super constituencies’ based on the Euro...

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