To what extent has the location of sovereignty changed in recent years
To what extent has the location of sovereignty in the UK changed in recent years?
Sovereignty is in essence ultimate and unchallengeable power, in the UK sovereignty in theory lies within parliament, A.V. Dicey said that ‘no person or body is recognised by the law of England as having a right to override or set aside the legislation of Parliament’. Sovereignty was placed formally to parliament after the Bill of Rights act in 1688 when the monarch’s powers were removed. Ultimate power lies in parliament due to the fact that the electorate vote for the members of parliament in free, fair and regular elections. Two types of sovereignty exist, legal and political. Legal sovereignty is the principle that one body has the authority and right
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However since 1997, devolution in the UK has become a more permanent feature by giving significantly large powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. These new devolved powers have control over some areas of policymaking in which they have almost ultimate legislative influence and power, for example education and health. Scotland now has legislative authority over itself on all issues which are not reserved by parliament. Due to this shift in location of sovereignty it could be stated that the UK is now a quasi-federal state due to the fact that devolved powers do have some significant authority, but do not have totally equal power to Westminster parliament, due to the existence of reserved powers of parliament. Furthermore devolved powers can be overruled and devolved states can be totally removed and returned to being under control of UK parliament, in a unitary state setting as the UK traditionally worked. for example the Northern Ireland Assembly has had its powers revoked four times, the most recent of these took place over 14th October 2002 to 7th May 2007. The power to revoke devolved state powers belongs to parliament. However the overruling of a devolved state presently however seems very unlikely; my reasoning for this point is the upcoming Scottish independence referendum, Scotland will have the chance to decide for itself its own future in an unbiased vote.