British devolution

In 1999 devolution created a national Parliament in Scotland, and assemblies for Wales and Northern Ireland.[1]  In 2020 the Welsh Assembly became known as the Welsh Parliament (Senedd Cymru in Welsh).  Powers exercised in these nations are now either devolved or reserved (the term is ‘transferred’ or ‘excepted’ in Northern Ireland).

  • Devolved powers: those that the UK Parliament controlled in the past, but are now taken by the devolved institutions.
  • Reserved powers: such as UK defence and foreign policy, remain with the Westminster Parliament.

Statutes passed by the Westminster Parliament determine which powers are devolved and which are reserved.[2]  The three devolved institutions have legislative powers, namely the right to pass primary and secondary laws on devolved matters.

[1] For a fuller discussion see Introduction to devolution in the United Kingdom, David Torrance, House of Commons Library, Research Briefing, 2022.

[2]  Scotland Act 1998, Government of Wales Act 1998, and Northern Ireland Act 1998.  Although these acts have all been amended.