This article is about devolution, a process of law. For the supposed biological process, see Devolution (biology).

Devolution or home rule is the granting of powers from central government to government at regional or local level. It differs from federalism in that the powers devolved are temporary and ultimately reside in central government, thus the state remains unitary. Any devolved assemblies can be repealed by central government in the same way as an ordinary law can be. Federal systems differ in that subnational government is guaranteed in the constitution.

The devolution can be mainly financial, e.g. giving regions a budget which was formerly administered by central government. However, the power to make legislation relevant to the area may also be granted. See devolved government for more information; for a special case in the United States, see District of Columbia home rule.

In the United Kingdom, devolved government was created in 1999, when the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales, Northern Ireland Assembly and Greater London Assembly were established. The governing Labour Party continues to possess no coherent plans for devolution in England (albeit a referendum for a regional assembly in the North East of England resulted in a 'no' vote in 2004). The West Lothian question still remains unresolved.

There is also a system of home rule in Denmark for Greenland and the Faroe Islands.


Irish home rule

The issue of Irish home rule was the dominant political question of British politics at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries.

From the late nineteenth century, leaders of the Irish Parliamentary Party under Isaac Butt, William Shaw and Charles Stewart Parnell had demanded a form of home rule, with the creation of a subsidiary Irish parliament within the United Kingdom. This demand led to the eventual introduction of four Irish Home Rule Bills, of which only the last two were approved by the British Parliament, and only the final one was enacted: the Government of Ireland Act 1920. This Act created the parliaments of Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland — although the latter did not in reality function and Southern Ireland became the Irish Free State in 1922.

The home rule demands of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century differed from earlier demands for Repeal by Daniel O'Connell in the first half of the nineteenth century. Whereas home rule meant a subsidiary parliament under Westminster, repeal meant the repeal of the 1801 Act of Union and the creation of an entirely independent Irish state, separated from the United Kingdom, with only a shared monarch joining them both.

In some hierarchical churches, especially Anglican churches including the Church of England, devolution is a bishop's appointment of a person to a benefice (e.g. a parish) when the ordinary patron or collator (i.e. the person or body with the right to appoint) has failed to do so, either because an improper candidate has been nominated or because no candidate could be found.


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