Fire services in the United Kingdom
The fire services in the United Kingdom operate under separate legislative and administrative arrangements in England and Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland. Emergency cover is provided by over fifty agencies; these are known as a fire and rescue service, the term used in modern legislation and by government departments. The older terms of fire brigade and fire service survive in informal usage and in the names of a few organisations. England and Wales have local fire services which are each overseen by a fire authority, made up of representatives of local governments. Fire authorities have the power to raise a Council Tax levy for funding, with the remainder coming from the government. Scotland and Northern Ireland have centralised fire services, so their authorities are committees of the devolved parliaments; the total budget for fire services in 2014-15 was £2.9 billion. Central government maintains national standards and a body of independent advisers through the Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser, created in 2007, while Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services provides direct oversight.
The devolved government in Scotland has HMFSI Scotland. Firefighters in the United Kingdom are allowed to join unions, the main one being the Fire Brigades Union, while chief fire officers are members of the National Fire Chiefs Council, which has some role in national co-ordination; the fire services have undergone significant changes since the beginning of the 21st century, a process, propelled by a devolution of central government powers, new legislation and a change to operational procedures in the light of terrorism attacks and threats. See separate article History of fire safety legislation in the United Kingdom Comprehensive list of recent UK fire and rescue service legislation: Fire services are established and granted their powers under new legislation which has replaced a number of Acts of Parliament dating back more than 60 years, but is still undergoing change. 1938: Fire Brigades Act 1938. This Act provided for centralised co-ordination of fire brigades in Great Britain and made it mandatory for local authorities to arrange an effective fire service.
1947: Fire Services Act 1947 This Act transferred the functions of the National Fire Service to local authorities. Now repealed in England and Wales by Schedule 2 of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004. 1959: Fire Services Act 1959 This Act amended the 1947 Act. It was repealed in Wales along with the 1947 Act. 1999: Greater London Authority Act 1999 This act was necessary to allow for the formation of the Greater London Authority and in turn the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority. In 2002, there was a series of national fire strikes, with much of the discontent caused by the aforementioned report into the fire service conducted by Prof Sir George Bain. In December 2002, the Independent Review of the Fire Service was published with the industrial action still ongoing. Bain's report led to a change in the laws relating to firefighting. 2002: Independent Review of the Fire Service published 2004: Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 only applying to England and Wales. 2006: The Regulatory Reform Order 2005 This piece of secondary legislation or statutory instrument replaces several other acts that dealt with fire precautions and fire safety in premises, including the now defunct process of issuing fire certificates.
It came into force on 1 October 2006. The DfCLG has published a set of guides for non-domestic premises: 2006: The Government of Wales Act 2006 gave the National Assembly for Wales powers to pass laws on "Fire and rescue services. Promotion of fire safety otherwise than by prohibition or regulation." But does not prevent future legislation being passed by the UK government which applies to two or more constituent countries. There are further plans to modernise the fire service according to the Local Government Association, its website outlines future changes, specific projects: "The aim of the Fire Modernisation Programme is to adopt modern work practices within the Fire & Rescue Service to become more efficient and effective, while strengthening the contingency and resilience of the Service to react to incidents. " The fire service in England and Wales is scrutinised by a House of Commons select committee. In June 2006, the fire and rescue service select committee, under the auspices of the Communities and Local Government Committee, published its latest report.
Committee report The committee's brief is described on its website: The Communities and Local Government Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure and policy of the Department for Communities and Local Government and its associated bodies. Government response This document, the subsequent government response in September 2006, are important as they outlined progress on the FiReControl, efforts to address diversity and the planned closure of HMFSI in 2007 among many issues. Both documents are interesting as they refer back to Professor Bain's report and the many recommendations it made and continue to put forward the notion that there is an ongoing need to modernise FRSs. For example, where FRSs were inspected by HMFSI, much of this work is now carried out by the National Audit Office. Fire Control On 8 February 2010 the House of Commons Communities and Local Governm
South Western Ambulance Service
The South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust is the organisation responsible for providing ambulance services for the National Health Service across South West England. On March 1, 2011 SWASFT was the first ambulance service in the country to become a Foundation Trust; the Trust acquired neighbouring Great Western Ambulance Service on 1 February 2013. SWASFT serves a population of more than 5.47 million, its area is estimated to receive an influx of over 17.5 million visitors each year. The operational area is predominantly rural but has large urban centres including Bristol, Exeter, Bath, Gloucester and Poole; the headquarters for the service is in Exeter and the service has 96 ambulance stations and 6 air bases. The Chief Executive is Ken Wenman, appointed on 1 July 2006 on creation of the trust, having served as the Chief Executive of the former Dorset Ambulance Service NHS Trust; the Trust’s core operations include: Emergency ambulance 999 services Urgent Care Services – GP out-of-hours medical care NHS 111 call-handling and triage services Tiverton Urgent Care Centre.
It is one of ten Ambulance Trusts providing England with emergency medical services and employs more than 4,500 clinical and operational staff. In addition there are around 3,200 volunteers including community first responders, BASICS doctors, fire co-responders and patient transport drivers; the Trust is one of the largest in England. It covers 827 miles of coastline. In 2015/16 one in eight 999 calls to South Western Ambulance Service were treated over the telephone. "Hear and treat", where the patient receives clinical advice over the telephone, accounted for 12.7% of calls. For 36.4% of incidents the patients experienced "see and treat", when the patient receives treatment or advice at the scene of the incident. In a further 7.7% of incidents, the patient was taken to a non-emergency hospital department such as a community hospital or minor injuries unit. The remaining incidents resulted in a patient being taken to a hospital emergency department, thus the majority of incidents resulted in a patient not being conveyed.
SWASFT is the best performing ambulance service in the country for non-conveyance rates. In addition 62% of patients taken to hospital are admitted – this is again the highest performance for an ambulance trust in the country; this means that when SWASFT takes a patient to an emergency department they are to be admitted, not treated and discharged, therefore confirming, the right place for them to receive the care they need. There are 96 ambulance stations, six air ambulance bases, three clinical control rooms, two Hazardous Area Response Team bases and one boat across the South Western Ambulance Service operational area. In 2016 the Care Quality Commission told the South Western Ambulance Service to make significant improvements in the NHS 111 service; the inspection of the trust in 2016 identified several areas. In 2018 the trust said it would need an extra £12 million a year to meet the new ambulance performance standards; the number of compliments received by the Trust in 2014/15 increased by 41% to 2,055 while complaints rose by 20% to 1,268.
The Trust is split into three divisions: West Division: covering Devon and Cornwall, including its Headquarters at Exeter East Division: covering Somerset and Dorset North Division: consisting of the footprint of the former Great Western Ambulance Service as well as the Burnham-on-sea and Shepton Mallet stationsThe Trust has 96 ambulance stations among the counties that it serves: Cornwall Devon Dorset Somerset Avon Wiltshire Gloucestershire 306 - 999 Emergency Ambulances 57 Patient Transport Ambulances 234 Rapid Response Vehicles 7 Rapid Response Motorcycles 5 Bicycles 2 Hazardous Area Response Teams 1 Boat – ALN 043'Star of Life’ Wave Saver 1000 Class Ambulance Boat SWASFT provides the non-emergency 111 helpline and triage service for Dorset. In May 2014 the Trust won a contract to run a doctor-led minor injuries unit at Tiverton and District Hospital, open seven days a week. Patients do not need an appointment to visit the centre, which provides treatment for minor injuries and ailments including: Cuts and wounds.
Yelverton is a large village on the south-western edge of Dartmoor, Devon, in England. When the village's railway station opened in the 19th century, the village became a popular residence for Plymouth commuters; the railway is now closed. Yelverton is well known for Roborough Rock - a prominent mass of stone close to the Plymouth road on the fringe of nearby Roborough Down, near the southern end of the airfield, it gave its name to the Rock Hotel, built as a farm during the Elizabethan period, but converted in the 1850s to cater for growing tourism in the area. The area to the south and west of the roundabout at the centre of the village was settled in late Victorian and Edwardian times, with many grand and opulent villas. An area developed at about the same time on an odd shaped piece of land to the south of the Tavistock road is known as Leg o' Mutton Corner. At the beginning of the Second World War, an airfield was constructed at adjacent Harrowbeer as a fighter station for the air defence of Devonport Dockyard and the Western Approaches.
A 19th century terrace of houses, now converted into shops, had to have its upper storey removed to provide an easier approach. One tall building, not altered was St. Paul's Church, but the tower was hit by a plane, resulting in a warning light being fitted; the layout of the runways is still clear and although they are grassed over, the many earth and brick protective bunkers built to protect the fighters from attack on the ground are all still in place. Some American airmen and anti-aircraft battery units were stationed here during the second half of the war. A plane carrying President Roosevelt landed here. To the south of the village is Langton Park, home of Yelverton Bohemians Cricket Club and about 0.5 km south is the named Moorland Garden Hotel serving the Yelverton Golf Club where most of the holes run well down the open moorland to the east. There are several bed and breakfasts in Yelverton, serving the many walkers and visitors to National Trust properties in the area. Seth Lakeman, the Mercury Music Prize nominee, comes from Yelverton.
Former Sadlers Wells Ballet star Maureen Bruce lives in Yelverton. The present Ravenscroft Care Home was built as a private house but in the 1930s became Ravenscroft School and during the Second World War was the officers' mess of RAF Harrowbeer. Yelverton Community Page RAF Harrowbeer Site
Bank of England
The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. Established in 1694 to act as the English Government's banker, still one of the bankers for the Government of the United Kingdom, it is the world's eighth-oldest bank, it was owned by stockholders from its foundation in 1694 until it was nationalised in 1946. The Bank became an independent public organisation in 1998, wholly owned by the Treasury Solicitor on behalf of the government, but with independence in setting monetary policy; the Bank is one of eight banks authorised to issue banknotes in the United Kingdom, has a monopoly on the issue of banknotes in England and Wales and regulates the issue of banknotes by commercial banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Bank's Monetary Policy Committee has a devolved responsibility for managing monetary policy; the Treasury has reserve powers to give orders to the committee "if they are required in the public interest and by extreme economic circumstances", but such orders must be endorsed by Parliament within 28 days.
The Bank's Financial Policy Committee held its first meeting in June 2011 as a macroprudential regulator to oversee regulation of the UK's financial sector. The Bank's headquarters have been in London's main financial district, the City of London, on Threadneedle Street, since 1734, it is sometimes known as The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, a name taken from a satirical cartoon by James Gillray in 1797. The road junction outside is known as Bank junction; as a regulator and central bank, the Bank of England has not offered consumer banking services for many years, but it still does manage some public-facing services such as exchanging superseded bank notes. Until 2016, the bank provided personal banking services as a privilege for employees. England's crushing defeat by France, the dominant naval power, in naval engagements culminating in the 1690 Battle of Beachy Head, became the catalyst for England rebuilding itself as a global power. England had no choice. No public funds were available, the credit of William III's government was so low in London that it was impossible for it to borrow the £1,200,000 that the government wanted.
To induce subscription to the loan, the subscribers were to be incorporated by the name of the Governor and Company of the Bank of England. The Bank was given exclusive possession of the government's balances, was the only limited-liability corporation allowed to issue bank notes; the lenders would give the government cash and issue notes against the government bonds, which can be lent again. The £1.2m was raised in 12 days. As a side effect, the huge industrial effort needed, including establishing ironworks to make more nails and advances in agriculture feeding the quadrupled strength of the navy, started to transform the economy; this helped the new Kingdom of Great Britain – England and Scotland were formally united in 1707 – to become powerful. The power of the navy made Britain the dominant world power in the late 18th and early 19th centuries; the establishment of the bank was devised by Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax, in 1694. The plan of 1691, proposed by William Paterson three years before, had not been acted upon.
58 years earlier, in 1636, Financier to the king, Philip Burlamachi, had proposed the same idea in a letter addressed to Sir Francis Windebank. He proposed a loan of £1.2m to the government. The royal charter was granted on 27 July through the passage of the Tonnage Act 1694. Public finances were in such dire condition at the time that the terms of the loan were that it was to be serviced at a rate of 8% per annum, there was a service charge of £4,000 per annum for the management of the loan; the first governor was Sir John Houblon, depicted in the £50 note issued in 1994. The charter was renewed in 1742, 1764, 1781; the Bank's original home was in Walbrook, a street in the City of London, where during reconstruction in 1954 archaeologists found the remains of a Roman temple of Mithras. The Bank moved to its current location in Threadneedle Street in 1734, thereafter acquired neighbouring land to create the site necessary for erecting the Bank's original home at this location, under the direction of its chief architect Sir John Soane, between 1790 and 1827.
When the idea and reality of the national debt came about during the 18th century, this was managed by the Bank. During the American war of independence, business for the Bank was so good that George Washington remained a shareholder throughout the period. By the charter renewal in 1781 it was the bankers' bank – keeping enough gold to pay its notes on demand until 26 February 1797 when war had so diminished gold reserves that – following an invasion scare caused by the Battle of Fishguard days earlier – the government prohibited the Bank from paying out in gold by the passing of the Bank Restriction Act 1797; this prohibition lasted until 1821. The 1844 Bank Charter Act tied the issue of notes to the gold reserves and gave the Bank sol
HM Prison Dartmoor
HM Prison Dartmoor is a Category C men's prison, located in Princetown, high on Dartmoor in the English county of Devon. Its high granite walls dominate this area of the moor; the prison is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, is operated by Her Majesty's Prison Service. In 1805, Great Britain was at war with Napoleonic France, a conflict during which thousands of prisoners were taken and confined in prison "hulks" or derelict ships; this was considered unsafe due to the proximity of the Royal Naval dockyard at Devonport, as living conditions were appalling in the extreme, a prisoner of war depot was planned in the remote isolation of Dartmoor. Construction started in 1806. In 1809 the first French prisoners arrived, were joined by American POWs taken in the War of 1812. At one time the prison population numbered 6,000. By July 1815 at least 270 Americans and 1,200 French prisoners had died. Both French and American wars were concluded in 1815, repatriations began; the prison lay empty until 1850, when it was rebuilt and commissioned as a convict gaol.
After being buried on the moor, due to the establishment of the prison farm in about 1852, all the prisoners' remains were exhumed and re-interred in two cemeteries behind the prison. Designed by Daniel Asher Alexander and constructed between 1806 and 1809 by local labour, to hold prisoners of the Napoleonic Wars, it was used to hold American prisoners from the War of 1812. Although the war ended with the Treaty of Ghent in December 1814, many American prisoners of war still remained in Dartmoor. From the spring of 1813 until March 1815 about 6,500 American sailors were imprisoned at Dartmoor; these were naval prisoners, impressed American seamen discharged from British vessels. Whilst the British were in charge of the prison, the prisoners created their own governance and culture, they had courts which meted out punishments, there was an in-prison market, a theatre and a gambling room. About 1,000 of the prisoners were black Americans. After the prisoners heard of the Peace of Ghent, they expected immediate release, but the British government refused to let them go on parole or take any steps until the treaty was ratified by the United States Senate, 17 February 1815.
It took several weeks for the American agent to secure ships for their transportation home, the men grew impatient. On 4 April, a food contractor attempted to work off some damaged hardtack on them in place of soft bread and was forced to yield by their insurrection; the commandant, Captain T. G. Shortland, suspected them of a design to break out of the gaol; this was the reverse of the truth in general, as they would lose their chance of going on the ships, but a few had made threats of the sort, the commandant was uneasy. About 6:00 pm of the 6th, Shortland discovered a hole from one of the five prisons to the barrack yard near the gun racks; some prisoners were outside the fence, noisily pelting each other with turf, many more were near the breach, though the signal for return to prisons had sounded. Shortland was convinced of a plot, rang the alarm bell to collect the officers and have the men ready; this precaution brought back a crowd just going to quarters. Just a prisoner broke a gate chain with an iron bar and a number of the prisoners pressed through to the prison market square.
After attempts at persuasion, Shortland ordered a charge. Those near the gate, hooted at and taunted the soldiery, who fired a volley over their heads; the crowd yelled louder and threw stones, the soldiers without orders, fired a direct volley which killed and wounded a large number. They continued firing at the prisoners, many of whom were now struggling to get back inside the blocks; the captain, a lieutenant and the hospital surgeon succeeded in stopping the shooting and caring for the wounded – about 60, 30 besides seven killed outright. The affair was examined by a joint commission, Charles King for the United States and F. S. Larpent for Great Britain, which exonerated Shortland, justified the initial shooting and blamed the subsequent deaths on unknown culprits; the British government provided for the families of the killed, pensioned the disabled and promoted Shortland. A memorial has been erected to the 271 POWs. Dartmoor was reopened in 1851 as a civilian prison, but was closed again in 1917, when it was converted into a Home Office Work Centre for certain conscientious objectors granted release from prison.
It was reopened as a prison in 1920, contained some of Britain's most serious offenders. On 24 January 1932, there was a major disturbance at the prison; the cause of the riots is attributed to the food, not but just on specific days when it was suspected it had been tampered with prior to the disturbance. There had been other instances of disobedience prior to this, according to the official Du Parcq report into the incident such as a model prisoner attacking a popular guard with a razor blade and rough treatment of a prisoner being removed to solitary. At the parade that day, 50 prisoners refused orders, the rest were marched back to their cells but refused to enter. At this point, the prison governor and his staff fled to an unused part of the prison and secured themselves in there; the prisoners released those held in solitary. There was extensive damage to property and a prisoner was shot by one of the staff but no prison staff were injured. According to Fitzgerald
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a conflict fought between the United States, the United Kingdom, their respective allies from June 1812 to February 1815. Historians in Britain see it as a minor theater of the Napoleonic Wars. From the outbreak of war with Napoleonic France, Britain had enforced a naval blockade to choke off neutral trade to France, which the US contested as illegal under international law. To man the blockade, Britain impressed American merchant sailors into the Royal Navy. Incidents such as the Chesapeake–Leopard affair, which happened five years before the war, inflamed anti-British sentiment in the US. In 1811, the British were in turn outraged by the Little Belt affair, in which 11 British sailors died. Britain supplied Native Americans who raided American settlers on the frontier, hindering American expansion and provoking resentment. Historians debate whether the desire to annex some or all of British North America contributed to the American decision to go to war. On June 18, 1812, US President James Madison, after heavy pressure from the War Hawks in Congress, signed the American declaration of war into law.
With most of its army in Europe fighting Napoleon, Britain adopted a defensive strategy, with offensive operations limited to the border, the western frontier. American prosecution of the war effort suffered from its unpopularity in New England, where it was derogatorily referred to as "Mr. Madison's War". American defeats at the Siege of Detroit and the Battle of Queenston Heights thwarted attempts to seize Upper Canada, improving British morale. American attempts to invade Lower Canada and capture Montreal failed. In 1813, the Americans won the Battle of Lake Erie, gaining control of the lake, at the Battle of the Thames defeated Tecumseh's Confederacy, securing a primary war goal. A final American attempt to invade Canada was fought to a draw at the Battle of Lundy's Lane during the summer of 1814. At sea, the powerful Royal Navy blockaded American ports, cutting off trade and allowing the British to raid the coast at will. In 1814, one of these raids burned the capital, but the Americans repulsed British attempts to invade New York and Maryland, ending invasions of the northern and mid-Atlantic United States from Canada.
Fighting took place overseas in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. In neighbouring Spanish Florida, a two-day battle for the city of Pensacola ended in Spanish surrender. In Britain, there was mounting opposition to wartime taxation. With the abdication of Napoleon, the war with France ended and Britain ceased impressment, rendering the issue of the impressment of American sailors moot; the British were able to increase the strength of the blockade on the United States coast, annihilating American maritime trade, but attempts to invade the U. S. ended unsuccessfully. Peace negotiations began in August 1814, the Treaty of Ghent was signed on December 24. News of the peace did not reach America for some time. Unaware of the treaty, British forces invaded Louisiana and were defeated at the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815; these late victories were viewed by Americans as having restored national honour, leading to the collapse of anti-war sentiment and the beginning of the Era of Good Feelings, a period of national unity.
News of the treaty arrived shortly thereafter. The treaty was unanimously ratified by the US Senate on February 17, 1815, ending the war with no boundary changes. Historians have long debated the relative weight of the multiple reasons underlying the origins of the War of 1812; this section summarizes several contributing factors which resulted in the declaration of war by the United States. As Risjord notes, a powerful motivation for the Americans was the desire to uphold national honour in the face of what they considered to be British insults such as the Chesapeake–Leopard affair. H. W. Brands says, "The other war hawks spoke of the struggle with Britain as a second war of independence; the approaching conflict was about violations of American rights, but it was about vindication of American identity." Americans at the time and historians since have called it the United States' "Second War of Independence". The British were offended by what they considered insults such as the Little Belt affair.
This gave the British a particular interest in capturing the United States flagship President, which they succeeded in doing in 1815. In 1807, Britain introduced a series of trade restrictions via the Orders in Council to impede neutral trade with France, which Britain was fighting in the Napoleonic Wars; the United States contested these restrictions as illegal under international law. Historian Reginald Horsman states, "a large section of influential British opinion, both in the government and in the country, thought that America presented a threat to British maritime supremacy."The American merchant marine had nearly doubled between 1802 and 1810, making it by far the largest neutral fleet. Britain was the largest trading partner, receiving 80% of U. S. cotton and 50% of other U. S. exports. The British public and press were resentful of commercial competition; the United States' view was. During the Napoleonic Wars, the Royal Navy expanded to 176 ships of the line and 600 ships overall, requiring 140,000 sailors to man.
While the Royal Navy could man its ships with volunteers in peacetime, it competed in wartime with merchant shi
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