Devolution is the process of transferring powers from central government to other bodies, typically regional authorities. Its opposite is centralisation. In the United Kingdom, the Labour government conducted an historic process of devolution during the 1990s, giving the countries of Scotland and Wales their own legislative bodies, the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly. These bodies have the power to make laws and set taxes, and in practice have often had the effect of allowing Scotland and Wales to opt out of controversial policies introduced by the government in Westminster such as tuition fees for university education.
Devolution is generally supported by parties such as the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru whose stated goals include full independence from England; gaining power in the devolved legislative body would be seen as a first step towards that goal. However, in 2007 Alec Salmond of the Scottish National Party became the First Minister for Scotland but the party has yet to take any serious steps towards full independence.