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How Similar or Different are the Structures of Devolved Governance in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

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Since the introduction of devolution in 1999 it has become the conventional view that devolution can be described as asymmetrical, implying significant differences between Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in terms of the structures and practices of governance. This view was encouraged by a number of factors including the exclusion of England from the devolution arrangements, the predominance of single-country studies and different political histories and party systems. A significant amount of change in devolved governance has been introduced, particularly since 2007, relating to institutions, structures and practices. This paper examines major changes in the core areas of devolved powers, executive government, parliament and assemblies, civil service structures, delegated and local government, financial systems and intergovernmental relations. It identifies and assesses the extent of similarities that have emerged, as well as continuing differences. A number of reasons for a trajectory towards increasing similarities are examined; including the Westminster model, UK Government dominance, policy transfer and an emerging model of devolved governance. The analysis is used to assess the extent of similarities and differences. Finally, some comment is made on the implications of possible future constitutional developments.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2013

More about this publication?
  • Contemporary Wales is at the forefront of research into economic, political and social sciences relating to Wales. It contains both academic and practitioner-based articles, annual economic and legal reviews, and book reviews. Its interdisciplinary content drawing on current research on Wales makes the journal essential reading for students and researchers across a range of subject areas, including political and social policy, history, law, media and languages. Contemporary Wales has published articles in English and in Welsh.

    Mae Contemporary Wales wedi’i gyhoeddi’n gan Wasg Prifysgol Cymru fel llwyfan ar gyfer ymchwil blaengar ar Gymru o safbwynt y gwyddorau economaidd, gwleidyddol a chymdeithasol. Mae'n cynnwys cyfuniad o erthyglau gan academyddion ac ymarferwyr, adolygiadau economaidd a chyfreithiol blynyddol, ac adolygiadau o gyhoeddiadau yn y maes. Mae natur rhyngddisgyblaethol y cynnwys sy'n seliedig ar yr ymchwil diweddaraf yn golygu bod y cyfnodolyn yn hanfodol i wleidyddion, gwneuthurwyr polisi, y cyfryngau, gwasanaethau cyhoeddus, llywodraeth leol yn ogystal â fyfyrwyr ac ymchwilwyr mewn ystod eang o feysydd gan gynnwys polisi gwleidyddol a chymdeithasol, hanes, y gyfraith, y cyfryngau a ieithoedd. Mae Contemporary Wales wedi cyhoeddi erthyglau yn y Gymraeg a’r Saesneg.

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