Chapter 8 Outline answers to essay questions

Essay Answer

Introduction

You should begin by identifying the issues raised by the question and explaining what is meant by devolution in the context of a unitary state. You should emphasize that devolution is the process by which the central organs of government delegate executive and legislative power to subordinate regional organs of government. You should refer to the fact that in the UK there are differences in the way devolution has been carried out in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Scotland

Focus on Pt II Scotland Act 1998 and the executive powers of the Scottish Government consisting of:
the First Minister;
the Scottish Ministers; and
the Scottish Law Officers.

Wales

Focus on ss 52-55 Government of Wales Act 1998 and the Government of Wales Act 2006. You should then discuss the main powers and structure of the Welsh Assembly Government.

Northern Ireland

You should focus on the following points.

The head of the executive in Northern Ireland is the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland acting on behalf of the reigning monarch.

Executive powers within Northern Ireland are exercised by the Northern Ireland Executive, the members of which are appointed by the Secretary of State. The Northern Ireland Act 1998 contained provisions concerning the government of Northern Ireland including the creation of the Northern Ireland Assembly. This was suspended by the Northern Ireland Act 2000.

Plans to restore a devolved executive in Northern Ireland are contained in the Northern Ireland Act 2006. The Northern Ireland institutions, including the Northern Ireland Assembly, were suspended in October 2002. Government proposals, incorporated in this Act, involved bringing together Assembly members to participate in a process to select a Northern Ireland Executive, comprising a First Minister, a deputy First Minister, and Northern Ireland Ministers.

The Northern Ireland Executive was suspended, along with the Northern Ireland Assembly, in January 2017. Since then the Westminster Parliament has passed a series of budgetary statutes and the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Act 2018 which made provisions which allowed Northern Ireland’s public bodies and services to continue to function. Since January 2020, when the Northern Ireland Assembly resumed, the First Minister and deputy First Minister are nominated respectively by the largest parties of the largest and second largest political designations in the Assembly. Ministers of the Executive, with the exception of the Minister of Justice, are nominated by the political parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly. The number of Ministers which a party can nominate is determined by its share of seats in the Assembly. The Minister of Justice is appointed through a nomination made by the First and deputy First Minister acting jointly and approved by a cross-community resolution of the Assembly. The First Minister and deputy First Minister acting jointly and each Minister has responsibility for a specific Northern Ireland government department.