Definition of devolution noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



BrE BrE//ˌdiːvəˈluːʃn//
; NAmE NAmE//ˌdevəˈluːʃn//
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the act of giving power from a central authority or government to an authority or a government in a local region Word Originlate 15th cent. (in the sense ‘transference by default’): from late Latin devolutio(n-), from Latin devolvere ‘roll down’, from de- ‘down’ + volvere ‘to roll’. CulturedevolutionDevolution involves the transfer of political power from a central government to a regional government. In the United Kingdom, this process took place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the late 1990s. Scotland and Wales, mainly through their nationalist parties, the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru, had both demanded to have power devolved from the Parliament of the United Kingdom to their own political assemblies. Both parties had only a few MPs in the British parliament.Scotland has for a long time had its own system of law and a lot of control over its affairs, and until 1999 the Secretary of State at the Scottish Office had wide powers. Wales had always been concerned about its cultural as well as its political identity. The Welsh language is spoken in many homes, especially in the western half of the country, and it is taught in schools. Until 1999 the Welsh Office in Cardiff had responsibilities for the local economy, education and social welfare.Northern Ireland had its own parliament from 1921 until 1972, when the British government closed it and established direct rule from London. In 1998 a new Northern Ireland Assembly was set up as part of the peace process agreed between Irish politicians and the British government.In 1997 Tony Blair's government held a referendum in Scotland and Wales on the issue of devolution. A large majority of Scottish people and a small majority of Welsh people voted in favour of it.The Scottish Parliament started work in Edinburgh in 1999. It consists of 129 MSPs (Members of the Scottish Parliament). 56 of them are elected by a form of proportional representation. It is led by a First Minister who is chosen by the Parliament and who chooses the other members of the Scottish Government (the group that is responsible for carrying out the parliament's policies). It has the power to raise or lower the basic rate of income tax, and to make laws affecting Scotland in areas including education, health, transport, local government, justice, agriculture and the environment. In 2014 a referendum will be held in Scotland on whether Scotland should become fully independent of the United Kingdom.The Welsh Assembly (officially the National Assembly for Wales) was opened in Cardiff in 1999. It consists of 60 AMs (Assembly Members). 20 of them are elected by a form of proportional representation. The Welsh Assembly has less power than the Scottish Parliament. It cannot make its own laws or raise taxes, but it has the power to develop and carry out policies affecting Wales in areas including education, culture, health, agriculture, the environment, tourism and the Welsh language. It is led by a First Minister who is chosen by the Assembly and who chooses the other Assembly Ministers to make up a cabinet in the Welsh Government.Matters affecting Scotland and Wales that are outside the control of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, including foreign affairs, defence and social security, are the responsibility of the Scotland Office and the Wales Office.Scotland and Wales still have MPs in the British parliament in London, and people may be members of both parliaments, though some people think it is wrong that Scottish and Welsh MPs continue to discuss English affairs in the British parliament.In 2002 the government published its plans to hold referendums to decide whether there should be regional assemblies in parts of England where research showed that there was interest in devolved government. There were plans to hold referendums in three areas: the North East, the North West, and Yorkshire and Humberside but when the first referendum was held in 2004 in the North East, a large majority voted against having a regional assembly. see also West Lothian Question
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: devolution