A European Perspective
Edited By Robert Wiszniowski
State transformation in pursuit of continuity: the case of Scotland
University of Edinburgh, Scotland
In 1999, a democratically elected Parliament was established for the first time in Scotland. This Parliament existed within the United Kingdom, with Scottish voters continuing to send Members of Parliament (MPs) to the UK Parliament at Westminster. At the same time, an Assembly was created in Wales and a year later another was elected in Northern Ireland. This meant that the only part of the UK without its own elected Parliament or Assembly was England, by far the largest component of the state with almost 85 per cent of the state’s population. The three new elected bodies differed in more than style – a “Parliament” for Scotland and “Assemblies” for Northern Ireland and Wales –but also in their relative powers. The Scottish Parliament had primary legislative powers, the right to make laws, over a limited range of matters and had some very limited tax varying powers. These asymmetries in this new system of devolved government might appear odd, creating anomalies and highlighting the absence of agreed principles that apply uniformly across the state. However, these might equally be seen as developments in a system of government that has long been based on pragmatic adaptation rather than constitutional coherence.
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