By Alistair Cole
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Extra resources for Beyond Devolution and Decentralisation: Building Regional Capacity in Wales and Brittany
Scotland could also count upon a parliamentary commission, the Scottish Grand Committee. Created in 1907, the Scottish Grand Committee brings together all Scottish MPs sitting in Westminister The Secretary of State for Scotland still sits in the Cabinet and still intervenes directly with the Treasury to plead Scotland’s case, but the role has lost much of its importance since devolution. In the Scotland Act, the Scottish parliament was granted primary legislative powers in all areas except those reserved by Parliament for the UK government: namely everything except constitutional affairs, financial relations, foreign policy and defence, the EU, social security and citizenship.
Chirac had rallied to the idea of a new stage in decentralisation in a speech in Brittany in 1998. With the Jospin government also undertaking reforms aimed at strengthening local and regional authorities (the 1999 Chevènement law, the 2002 law on Corsica) political circumstances were favourable for a renewed phase of reform. Decentralisation had never left the political agenda, as demonstrated by the ongoing process of incremental reform throughout the 1990s. Surveys such as the one we carried out in 2001 suggested broad support for more decentralisation, but also that further reform was not a high public priority.
Of primary concern here is the case of post-Devolution Wales. Each of the four nations which together comprise the United Kingdom – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – has its own distinct histories and political characteristics. Wales was unified with the English Crown as early as 1536 (see Chapter 3), far earlier and more comprehensively than either Scotland or Ireland. When England and Scotland agreed to the Act of Union in 1707, there was an understanding that the Scots would retain their national identity, their Presbyterian Church and their separate education and legal systems.
Beyond Devolution and Decentralisation: Building Regional Capacity in Wales and Brittany by Alistair Cole