Devolved Parliaments and Assemblies

Devolution in the UK has created a national Parliament in Scotland, a Welsh Parliament - or Senedd Cymru - and a national Assembly in Northern Ireland. This process transfers varying levels of power from the UK Parliament to the UK's nations - but has kept authority over the devolved institutions in the UK Parliament itself.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all held successful referendums on devolution in the late 1990s. This led to the establishment of separate Parliaments or Assemblies and the democratic election of officials.

Devolved and reserved powers

Devolved powers are decisions that Parliament controlled in the past, but are now taken by the separate bodies, e.g., the Scottish Parliament. This could include matters like education or health.

Reserved powers including, amongst others, UK defence and foreign policy remain with Parliament in Westminster.

In each case, the legislation that has shaped the separate bodies has determined which powers are devolved and which are reserved. Ultimately, Parliament can still legislate on devolved matters but generally doesn't do so.

Transfer of powers

The Scottish Parliament and the then National Assembly for Wales first took responsibility for their devolved powers on 1 July 1999, the Northern Ireland Assembly followed on 2 December 1999.

Since the original transfer of powers, further legislation has seen wider powers devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. From 6 May 2020 the Welsh Assembly is officially known as the Welsh Parliament or Senedd Cymru.

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