The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Devolved government

Devolved government is government which is devolved, either wholly or partially, from state level to a more local level. However, unlike in a federal system, such devolved administrations exist in statute, not constitutional law, and can have their powers broadened or narrowed, or can even be abolished, by an act of the legislature. In contrast, regional administrations in federal systems have a constitutionally guaranteed right to exist with constitutionally defined powers.

Such a process of devolution has been happening in the United Kingdom where certain powers have been devolved from the UK government in London to the UK's constituent nations: Scotland was formerly governed by the Scottish Office in London, but now has the Scottish Executive Government and the Scottish Parliament. Wales used to be governed by the Welsh Office in London, but now has the National Assembly of Wales. Northern Ireland has undergone a similar process. Within England itself, a process has started to devolve certain powers to regional layers of government. An example of this process is the establishment of regional development agencies, e.g the East Midlands Development Agency which has been given a regional development budget which beforehand would have been spent by central government. The process in England is not complete, as regional assemblies have not yet become a reality.

Devolution in the United Kingdom and especially within the context of the Celtic nations, is sometimes called Home Rule.

Devolution in the United States usually refers to the decentralization of state governments and the preference for local control. This phenomenon is typically reserved for the U.S. region of New England, where cities and towns practice limited home rule and, for the most part, govern themselves in a directly-democratic fashion known as the New England town meeting.

A devolved government moves from a centralized, unitary structure of government towards a decentralized, confederal structure.

Last updated: 05-07-2005 10:18:34
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04