Royal assent is the method by which a monarch formally approves an act of the legislature. In some jurisdictions, royal assent is equivalent to promulgation, while in others, a separate step. Under a modern constitutional monarchy royal assent is considered to be little more than a formality. While the power to veto a law by withholding royal assent was once exercised by European monarchs, such an occurrence has been rare since the eighteenth century. Royal assent is sometimes associated with elaborate ceremonies. In the United Kingdom, for instance, the sovereign may appear in the House of Lords or may appoint Lords Commissioners, who announce that royal assent has been granted at a ceremony held at the Palace of Westminster for this purpose. However, royal assent is granted less ceremonially by letters patent. In other nations, such as Australia, the governor-general signs a bill. In Canada, the governor general may give assent either in person at a ceremony held in the Senate or by a written declaration notifying parliament of their agreement to the bill.
Before the Royal Assent by Commission Act 1541 became law, assent was always required to be given by the sovereign in person before Parliament. The last time royal assent was given by the sovereign in person in Parliament was in the reign of Queen Victoria at a prorogation on 12 August 1854; the Act was repealed and replaced by the Royal Assent Act 1967. However section 1 of that Act does not prevent the sovereign from declaring assent in person if he or she so desires. Royal assent is the final step required for a parliamentary bill to become law. Once a bill is presented to the sovereign or the sovereign's representative, he or she has the following formal options: the sovereign may grant royal assent, thereby making the bill an Act of Parliament; the sovereign may delay the bill's assent through the use of his or her reserve powers, thereby vetoing the bill. The sovereign may refuse royal assent on the advice of her ministers; the last bill, refused assent by the sovereign was the Scottish Militia Bill during Queen Anne's reign in 1708.
Under modern constitutional conventions, the sovereign acts on, in accordance with, the advice of his or her ministers. However, there is some disagreement among scholars as to whether the monarch should withhold royal assent to a bill if advised to do so by her ministers. Since these ministers most enjoy the support of parliament and obtain the passage of bills, it is improbable that they would advise the sovereign to withhold assent. Hence, in modern practice, the issue has never arisen, royal assent has not been withheld; the sovereign is believed not to have the power to withhold assent from a bill against the advice of ministers. Legislative power was exercised by the sovereign acting on the advice of the Curia regis, or Royal Council, in which important magnates and clerics participated and which evolved into parliament. In 1265, the Earl of Leicester irregularly called a full parliament without royal authorisation. Membership of the so-called Model Parliament, established in 1295 under Edward I included bishops, earls, two knights from each shire and two burgesses from each borough.
The body came to be divided into two branches: bishops, abbots and barons formed the House of Lords, while the shire and borough representatives formed the House of Commons. The King would seek the consent of both houses before making any law. During Henry VI's reign, it became regular practice for the two houses to originate legislation in the form of bills, which would not become law unless the sovereign's assent was obtained, as the sovereign was, still remains, the enactor of laws. Hence, all Acts include the clause "Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, by the authority of the same, as follows...". The Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 provide a second potential preamble if the House of Lords were to be excluded from the process; the power of parliament to pass bills was thwarted by monarchs. Charles I dissolved parliament in 1629, after it passed motions and bills critical of—and seeking to restrict—his arbitrary exercise of power.
During the eleven years of personal rule that followed, Charles performed dubious actions such as raising taxes without Parliament's approval. After the English Civil War, it was accepted that parliament should be summoned to meet but it was still commonplace for monarchs to refuse royal assent to bills. In 1678, Charles II withheld his assent from a bill "for preserving the Peace of the Kingdom by raising the Militia, continuing them in Duty for Two and Forty Days," suggesting that he, not parliament, should control the militia; the last Stuart monarch, Anne withheld on 11 March 1708, on the advice of her ministers, her assent to the Scottish Militia Bill. No monarch has since withheld royal assent on a bill passed by the British parliament. During the rule of the succeeding Hanoverian dynasty, power was exercised more by parliament and the government; the first Hanoverian monarch, George I, relied on his ministers to a greater extent than had previous monarchs. Hanoverian monarchs attempted to restore royal control over legislation: G
National Insurance Act 1911
The National Insurance Act 1911 created National Insurance a system of health insurance for industrial workers in Great Britain based on contributions from employers, the government, the workers themselves. It was one of the foundations of the modern welfare state, it provided unemployment insurance for designated cyclical industries. It formed part of the wider social welfare reforms of the Liberal Government of 1906–1915. David Lloyd George, the Liberal Chancellor of the Exchequer, was the prime moving force behind its design, negotiations with doctors and other interest groups, final passage. Lloyd George followed the example of Germany, which under conservative Chancellor Otto von Bismarck had provided compulsory national insurance against sickness from 1884. After visiting Germany in 1908, Lloyd George said in his 1909 Budget speech that Britain should aim to be "putting ourselves in this field on a level with Germany, his measure gave the British working classes the first contributory system of insurance against illness and unemployment.
The Act only applied to wage earners—about 70% of the work force—their families and the unwaged were not covered. After first praising the proposal, the Conservatives split, most voted against it, but when returned to office they did not change it. Some trade unions who operated their own insurance schemes, friendly societies who had their own schemes, at first opposed the proposal, but Lloyd George convinced most of them to support it; the friendly societies and trade unions were given a major role in administering health insurance. Covered workers outside those agencies dealt with the local post office; the government picked up responsibility for the basic benefits that the unions and societies had promised, thus helping their financial reserves. The Act was psychologically important, as it removed the need for unemployed workers to rely on the stigmatised social welfare provisions of the Poor Law; this hastened the end of the Poor Law as a social welfare provider: the Poor Law Unions were abolished in 1929, the administration of poor relief was transferred to the counties and county boroughs.
Key figures in the implementation of the Act included Robert Laurie Morant and economist William Braithwaite, who drafted the details after inspecting the German system. The medical profession was angry with the law, despite support from some prominent leaders such as Victor Horsley; some critics on the right such as Hilaire Belloc considered the Act to be a manifestation of The Servile State, which Belloc blasted in his book of the same name. The National Insurance Act Part I provided for a National Insurance scheme with provision of medical benefits. All workers who earned under £160 a year had to pay 4 pence a week to the scheme. Under the Act, workers could take sick leave and be paid 10 shillings a week for the first 13 weeks, 5 shillings a week for the next 13 weeks. Workers gained access to free treatment for tuberculosis, the sick were eligible for treatment by a panel doctor. Due to pressure from the Co-operative Women's Guild, the National Insurance Act provided maternity benefits. In parts of Scotland whose economy was still based on subsistence farming, the collection of cash contributions was impractical.
The Highlands and Islands Medical Service was established in the crofting counties on a non-contributory basis in 1913. Though the fund was held centrally, the obligation to pay into it was a nationally imposed one, access to the scheme was via Approved Societies, who collected the contributions, paid out for treatment, provided day-to-day administration. A worker could choose. Any organisation could become an Approved Society, as long as it was registered under the Act, complied with the Act's obligations, including to operate on a not-for-profit basis; as well as societies created by the Trade Unions, friendly societies, commercial insurers established Approved Societies, such as the National Amalgamated Approved Society. The 1911 Act only allowed Approved Societies to collect the contributions of their members; the societies' own expenditure, such as the cost of treatment for their members, would be reimbursed by the Fund, on a six-monthly basis. The government did not reimburse any "improper" payments, such as "treatments" that did not comply with government regulations, or corrupt payments.
Many Approved Societies were nominally profitable, contributing more to the National Insurance Fund than they took out. In 1925, 1931, further Acts were passed which reduced the government contribution to the Fund: the government pressured the backers of Approved Societies to take on the financial burden themselves. Together with increasing government control on which treatments they were allowed to fund, this led many Societies to complain that they had become little more than branches of government, membership attendance at society meetings dwindled away, becoming non-existent by 1940; the National Insurance Act 1946 introduced a single national organisation in the healthcare field which, among other things, fulfilled the role of the Approved Societies. The National Insurance Act Part II provided
County borough is a term introduced in 1889 in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, to refer to a borough or a city independent of county council control. They were abolished by the Local Government Act 1972 in England and Wales, but continue in use for lieutenancy and shrievalty in Northern Ireland. In the Republic of Ireland they remain in existence but have been renamed cities under the provisions of the Local Government Act 2001; the Local Government Act 1994 re-introduced the term for certain "principal areas" in Wales. Scotland did not have county boroughs but instead counties of cities; these were abolished on 16 May 1975. All four Scottish cities of the time — Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow — were included in this category. There was an additional category of large burgh in the Scottish system, which were responsible for all services apart from police and fire; when county councils were first created in 1889, it was decided that to let them have authority over large towns or cities would be impractical, so any large incorporated place would have the right to be a county borough, thus independent from the administrative county it would otherwise come under.
Some cities and towns were independent counties corporate, most were to become county boroughs. Ten county boroughs were proposed; the Local Government Act 1888 as passed required a population of over 50,000 except in the case of existing counties corporate. This resulted in 61 county boroughs in two in Wales. Several exceptions were allowed for historic towns: Bath and Oxford were all under the 50,000 limit in the 1901 census; some of the smaller counties corporate—Berwick upon Tweed, Lincoln, Poole and Haverfordwest—did not become county boroughs, although Canterbury, with a population under 25,000, did. Various new county boroughs were constituted in the following decades as more boroughs reached the 50,000 minimum and promoted Acts to constitute them county boroughs; the granting of county borough status was the subject of much disagreement between the large municipal boroughs and the county councils. The population limit provided county councils with a disincentive to allow mergers or boundary amendments to districts that would create authorities with large populations, as this would allow them to seek county borough status and remove the tax base from the administrative county.
County boroughs to be constituted in this era were a mixed bag, including some towns that would continue to expand such as Bournemouth and Southend-on-Sea. Other towns such as Burton upon Trent and Dewsbury were not to increase in population much past 50,000. 1913 saw the attempts of Luton and Cambridge to gain county borough status defeated in the House of Commons, despite the approval of the Local Government Board — the removal of Cambridge from Cambridgeshire would have reduced the income of Cambridgeshire County Council by over half. Upon recommendation of a commission chaired by the Earl of Onslow, the population threshold was raised to 75,000 in 1926, by the Local Government Act 1926, which made it much harder to expand boundaries; the threshold was raised to 100,000 by the Local Government Act 1958. The viability of the county borough of Merthyr Tydfil came into question in the 1930s. Due to a decline in the heavy industries of the town, by 1932 more than half the male population was unemployed, resulting in high municipal rates in order to make public assistance payments.
At the same time the population of the borough was lower than when it had been created in 1908. A royal commission was appointed in May 1935 to "investigate whether the existing status of Merthyr Tydfil as a county borough should be continued, if not, what other arrangements should be made"; the commission reported the following November, recommended that Merthyr should revert to the status of a non-county borough, that public assistance should be taken over by central government. In the event county borough status was retained by the town, with the chairman of the Welsh Board of Health appointed as administrative adviser in 1936. After the Second World War the creation of new county boroughs in England and Wales was suspended, pending a local government review. A government white paper published in 1945 stated that "it is expected that there will be a number of Bills for extending or creating county boroughs" and proposed the creation of a boundary commission to bring coordination to local government reform.
The policy in the paper ruled out the creation of new county boroughs in Middlesex "owing to its special problems". The Local Government Boundary Commission was appointed on 26 October 1945, under the chairmanship of Sir Malcolm Trustram Eve, delivering its report in 1947; the Commission recommended that towns with a population of 200,000 or more should become one-tier "new counties", with "new county boroughs" having a population of 60,000 - 200,000 being "most-purpose authorities", with the county council of the administrative county providing certain limited services. The report envisaged the creation of 47 two-tiered "new counties", 21 one-tiered "new counties" and 63 "new county boroughs"; the recommendations of the Commission extended to a review of the division of functions between different tiers of local government, thus fell outside its terms of reference, its report was not acted upon. The next attempt at reform was by the Local Government Act 1958, which established the Local Government Commission for England and the Local Government
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Health and Social Care is a British cabinet position serving as head of the Department of Health and Social Care and holds responsibility for the National Health Service. Since devolution in 1999, the position holder's responsibility for the NHS is restricted to the health service in England, with the holder's counterparts in Scotland and Wales responsible for the NHS in Scotland and Wales. Prior to devolution, the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Wales had those respective responsibilities, but the Department of Health had a larger role than now in the co-ordination of health policy across Great Britain. Health services in Northern Ireland have always had separate arrangements from the rest of the UK, are the responsibility of the Health Minister in the Northern Ireland Executive; the first Boards of Health were created by Orders in Council dated 21 June, 14 November and 21 November 1831. In 1848, a General Board of Health was created with the First Commissioner of Woods and Forests as its president.
In 1854, this Board was reconstituted and the President appointed separately. However, the Board was abolished in 1858 and its function of overseeing the local boards was transferred to a new Local Government Act Office within the Home Office. From 1871, that function was transferred to the new Local Government Board; the Ministry of Health was created in 1919 as a reconstruction of the Local Government Board. Local government functions were transferred to the Minister of Housing and Local Government, leaving the Health Ministry in charge of Health proper. From 1968, it was amalgamated with the Ministry of Social Security under the Secretary of State for Social Services, until a de-merger of the Department of Health and Social Security on 25 July 1988. Colour key: Whig Conservative Radical Peelite Liberal Labour Unionist National Labour National Liberal
Health and Social Care Act 2012
The Health and Social Care Act 2012 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It provides for the most extensive reorganisation of the structure of the National Health Service in England to date, it removed responsibility for the health of citizens from the Secretary of State for Health, which the post had carried since the inception of the NHS in 1948. It abolished NHS primary care trusts and Strategic Health Authorities and transferred between £60 billion and £80 billion of "commissioning", or health care funds, from the abolished PCTs to several hundred "clinical commissioning groups" run by the general practitioners in England but a major point of access for private service providers. A new executive agency of the Department of Health, Public Health England, was established under the Act on 1 April 2013; the proposals are the result of policies of the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley. Writing in the BMJ, Clive Peedell compared the policies with academic analyses of privatisation and found "evidence that privatisation is an inevitable consequence of many of the policies contained in the Health and Social Care Bill".
Lansley said that claims that the government is attempting to privatise the NHS are "ludicrous scaremongering". The proposals contained in the Act are some of the coalition government's most controversial. Although glanced at in the Conservative Party's manifesto in 2010, they were not discussed during the general election campaign that year and were not contained in the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition agreement, which mentioned the NHS only to commit the coalition to a real-term funding increase every year. Within two months of the election a white paper was published, outlining what the Daily Telegraph called the "biggest revolution in the NHS since its foundation"; the bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 19 January 2011. In April 2011 the government announced a "listening exercise", halting the Bill's legislative progress until after the May local elections; the "listening exercise" finished by the end of that month. The Bill received Royal Assent on 27 March 2012; the proposals in the Act were not discussed during the general election campaign in 2010 and were not contained in the Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition agreement of 20 May 2010, which declared an intention to "stop the top-down reorganisations of the NHS that have got in the way of patient care".
However, within two months a white paper outlined what the Daily Telegraph called the "biggest revolution in the NHS since its foundation". The white paper and Excellence: Liberating the NHS, was followed in December 2010 by an implementation plan in the form of Liberating the NHS: legislative framework and next steps. McKinsey & Company who have been influential in the British Department of Health for many years was involved in the discussions around the Bill; the bill was introduced into the House of Commons on 19 January 2011 and received its second reading, a vote to approve the general principles of the Bill, by 321-235, a majority of 86, on 31 January 2011. The Act had implications for the entire NHS. NHS primary care trusts and Strategic Health Authorities were abolished, with projected redundancy costs of £1 billion for around 21,000 staff. £60 to £80 billion worth of commissioning will be transferred from PCTs to several hundred clinical commissioning groups run by GPs. Around 3,600 facilities owned by PCTs and SHAs will transfer to NHS Property Services, a limited company owned by the Department of Health.
When the white paper was presented to Parliament the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, told MPs of three key principles: patients at the centre of the NHS changing the emphasis of measurement to clinical outcomes empowering health professionals, in particular GPs. The white paper set out the following timetable. By April 2012 it proposed to: establish the independent NHS Commissioning Board establish new local authority health and well-being boards develop Monitor as an economic regulator; the Bill foresaw all NHS trusts becoming, or being amalgamated into, foundation trusts. The Bill abolished the existing cap on trusts' income from non-NHS sources, which in most cases was set at a low single-digit percentage. Under the Bill's provisions the new commissioning system would be expected to be in place by April 2013, by which time SHAs and PCTs would be abolished; the Bill was analysed by Stephen Cragg of Doughty Street Chambers, on behalf of the 38 Degrees campaign, who concluded that "Effectively, the duty to provide a national health service would be lost if the Bill becomes law, would be replaced by a duty on an unknown number of commissioning consortia with only a duty to make or arrange provision for that section of the population for which it is responsible."
It replaces a “duty to provide” with a “Duty to promote”. After an increase in opposition pressure, including from both rank-and-file Liberal Democrats and the British Medical Association, the government announced a "listening exercise" with critics. On 4 April 2011 the government announced a "pause" in the progress of the Bill to allow the government to'listen and improve' the proposals; the Prime Minister, David Cameron, said "the status quo is not an option" and many within his and Nick Clegg's coalition said that certain aspects of the Bill, such as the formation of Clinical commissioning groups, were not only not open for discussion, but already too far along the path to completion to be stopped. Cameron insisted that the Act was part of his "Big Society" agenda and that it would not alter the fundamental principles of the NHS. Part of the "listening exercise" saw th
Secretary of State for Scotland
Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Scotland is the principal minister of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland representing Scotland. They head a government department based in London and Edinburgh; the post was first created after the Acts of Union 1707 created the Kingdom of Great Britain from the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland. It was abolished in 1746, following the Jacobite rising of 1745. Scottish affairs thereafter were managed by the Lord Advocate until 1827, when responsibility passed to the Home Office. In 1885 the post of Secretary for Scotland was re-created, with the incumbent a member of the Cabinet. In 1926 this post was upgraded to a full Secretary of State appointment. After the 1999 Scottish devolution, the powers of the Scottish Office were divided, with most transferred to the Scottish Government or to other British government departments, leaving only a limited role for the Scotland Office. From June 2003 and October 2008, the holder of the office of Secretary of State for Scotland from 13 June 2003 through to 3 October 2008 held another Cabinet post concurrently, leading to claims that the Scottish role was seen as a part-time ministry.
The current Secretary of State for Scotland is David Mundell. With the advent of legislative devolution for Scotland in 1999, the role of Secretary of State for Scotland has been diminished. Most of the functions vested in the office since administrative devolution in the 19th century were transferred to the newly established Scottish Ministers upon the opening of the Scottish Parliament or otherwise to other UK government ministers however the SOS for Scotland does represent Scotland in the Cabinet on matters that are not devolved to Holyrood, The Scottish Secretary holds Scotland Questions on the first Wednesday of every month between 1130am-12pm where any Member of Parliament can ask on any matter relating to Scotland however devolved issues are not raised by MP's; the Scottish Secretary is the group leader of the Scottish MP's from that political party is in government, Currently David Mundell is the group leader of the Scottish Conservative MPs. As a result of this, the office acts as a go-between for the UK and Scottish Governments and Parliaments.
However, due to the Secretary's role as a minister in the British government, the convention of Cabinet collective responsibility applies, as such the post is viewed as being a partisan one to promote the UK government's decision making in Scotland, as adherence to the convention precludes doing anything else. With the rise of the SNP in the Scottish and British parliaments and the resultant interest in Scottish Independence, the Secretary of State's role has subsequently increased in prominence; the Scotland Office itself has received a cumulative increase in budget of 20% from 2013 to 2017 with a 14.4% increase in 2015/16 alone. The UK government's website lists the Secretary of State for Scotland's responsibilities as being:"The main role of the Scottish Secretary is to promote and protect the devolution settlement. Other responsibilities include promoting partnership between the UK government and the Scottish government, relations between the 2 Parliaments." This seeming lack of responsibility has in recent years seen calls for the scrapping of the role and the wider department of the Scotland Office itself by opposition MPs.
John Erskine, Earl of Mar had served as Secretary of State of the independent Scotland from 1705. Following the Acts of Union 1707, he remained in office; the post of Secretary of State for Scotland existed after the Union of the Parliament of Scotland and the Parliament of England in 1707 till the Jacobite rising of 1745. After the rising, responsibility for Scotland lay with the office of the Home Secretary exercised by the Lord Advocate. Office thereafter vacant; the Secretary for Scotland was chief minister in charge of the Scottish Office in the United Kingdom government. The Scotland Office was created in 1885 with the post of Secretary for Scotland. From 1892 the Secretary for Scotland sat in cabinet; the post was upgraded to full Secretary of State rank as the Secretary of State for Scotland in 1926. From 1885 to 1999, Secretaries for Scotland and Secretaries of State for Scotland ex officio held the post of Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland. From 1999, the position of Keeper of the Great Seal has been held by the First Minister of Scotland.
Notes First Minister of Scotland Secretary of State, a senior post in the pre-Union government of the Kingdom of Scotland Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, junior minister supporting the Secretary of State for Scotland Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Secretary of State for Wales Official website of the Scotland Office
The United Kingdom the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world; the Irish Sea lies between Great Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres, the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world, it is the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017. The UK is constitutional monarchy; the current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the longest-serving current head of state.
The United Kingdom's capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major urban areas in the UK include Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire conurbations, Greater Glasgow and the Liverpool Built-up Area; the United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution; the nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. The medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language and political systems of many of its former colonies; the United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and has a high Human Development Index rating, ranking 14th in the world, it was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power, with considerable economic, military and political influence internationally, it is sixth in military expenditure in the world. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946.
It has been a leading member state of the European Union and its predecessor, the European Economic Community, since 1973. The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Trade Organization; the 1707 Acts of Union declared that the kingdoms of England and Scotland were "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". The term "United Kingdom" has been used as a description for the former kingdom of Great Britain, although its official name from 1707 to 1800 was "Great Britain"; the Acts of Union 1800 united the kingdom of Great Britain and the kingdom of Ireland in 1801, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the partition of Ireland and the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the United Kingdom, the name was changed to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
Although the United Kingdom is a sovereign country, Scotland and Northern Ireland are widely referred to as countries. The UK Prime Minister's website has used the phrase "countries within a country" to describe the United Kingdom; some statistical summaries, such as those for the twelve NUTS 1 regions of the United Kingdom refer to Scotland and Northern Ireland as "regions". Northern Ireland is referred to as a "province". With regard to Northern Ireland, the descriptive name used "can be controversial, with the choice revealing one's political preferences"; the term "Great Britain" conventionally refers to the island of Great Britain, or politically to England and Wales in combination. However, it is sometimes used as a loose synonym for the United Kingdom as a whole; the term "Britain" is used both as a synonym for Great Britain, as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Usage is mixed, with the BBC preferring to use Britain as shorthand only for Great Britain and the UK Government, while accepting that both terms refer to the United K