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  More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

Greater regional powers for Scotland and Wales have been on and off the political agenda since the recommendation by a *royal commission, in 1973, that both countries should have separate assemblies and that there should be advisory regional councils in England. Scotland sends a high proportion of *Labour MPs to Westminster, and the Labour party embraced devolution as a self-protective measure because of the growing strength of the *SNP (a party committed to full Scottish independence). In a referendum in March 1979 approximately 33% of Scots on the electoral register said yes to devolution and 31% said no; the number in favour had to be at least 40% of the electorate and so the issue was dropped (in Wales there was a 4:1 majority against).

Devolution was subsequently little discussed until it became a major issue in the election of 1992, when the SNP was able to argue that smaller countries were the pattern of the future (with the re-emergence of the Baltic states, for example, from the disintegrating USSR) and that Scotland's natural identity was as an independent state within the EC. The election manifestoes of both the Labour party and the Liberal Democrats included a pledge to introduce a Scottish parliament, but the Conservatives remained emphatically opposed, pointing out that Scotland already had a considerably devolved administration in the form of the *Scottish Office.

The electoral results, in which the SNP did worse than expected and the Conservatives better, suggested that the issue would again be dormant for a while. However devolution in Scotland and Wales was rapidly achieved after the Labour victory of 1997.

For half a century (1921–72) *Northern Ireland provided an example of a devolved parliament functioning within the framework of the United Kingdom.

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