In United Kingdom, voters in Wales and Scotland will be taking pat in separate referendums on Thursday (1 March) that could mark historic constitutional changes.
In United Kingdom, voters in Wales and Scotland will be taking pat in separate referendums on Thursday (1 March) that could mark historic constitutional changes. They will have the chance of accepting or rejecting limited home rule. For Britain's ruling minority Labour government, results could prove important. Unless there are clear results, Parliament may be asked to make the decision -- and this could cause a storm of protest, possibly leading to the fall of the government.
SYNOPSIS: The Houses of Parliament, in London. For centuries major policies affecting Wales and scotland have ben decided here. Now, after more than ten years of political debate, comes the possibility of some powers being transferred to Scotland and Welsh assemblies.
In Wales, which has just over two and half million people, the referendum campaign has excited little interest. Wales has older and closer ties with England than Scotland...where nationalism runs much deeper. There are five and a half million Scots and, unlike Wales, the outcome there is likely to be a vote for devolution.
A 'yes' vote would mean the two countries will run health services from their capitals, Cardiff and Edinburgh. There will be legislative powers too, and responsibility of running other local services, such as housing. But the scots and Welsh won't be able to raise taxes, and will depend upon funds provided by the Westminster Parliament. Before this, one big hurdle remains...forty percent of those entitled to vote must say 'Yes' or 'No' for a clear result. Vote-counting and mathematics could eventually decide whether the limited home rule, allowing scotland and Wales to run services like education, is granted. The issue has cut across party lines. Prime Minister James Callaghan supports evolution, but is firmly against separation.