Election 2015

Reality Check: How might devolution affect your vote?

(L-R) Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, Labour leader Ed Miliband and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon Image copyright Getty Images

Devolution has made general elections more confusing.

In early April, the Plaid Cymru Welsh Assembly member Elin Jones tweeted a picture of a poster seen in Wales saying: "I'm voting Labour to protect our NHS".

The problem is that powers over health are devolved to the Welsh Assembly, which has a Labour majority.

And that means that whoever wins the general election next month will not be able to do a lot about the NHS in Wales.

To be fair, the voter in question may be concerned about the NHS in England, which is still controlled by the Westminster Parliament.

It could be a poster left over from the 2011 Welsh Assembly elections or indeed it could be an early pitch for the 2016 elections.

The point is that it highlights the complexity around devolved powers.

The only way that your Member of Parliament in Westminster can influence health policy in Wales, and indeed Scotland and Northern Ireland, is via the Barnett formula.

The amount each nation receives in funding is decided by applying that formula to the amount spent in England.

But even if the UK government decided to spend less on health, the devolved governments could maintain or increase their own spending on health if they reallocated money from other parts of their budgets.

Education is also devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as is the provision of childcare.

But when it becomes a taxation issue, for example, giving tax relief on money spent on childcare, it becomes a UK-wide issue.

Crime and policing policy are devolved to Scotland and Northern Ireland, but not Wales.

Meanwhile the Home Office is responsible for UK borders and immigration as well as policy on serious and organised crime.

You can find a more comprehensive list of devolved powers in this article on the BBC News website.

Many of the devolved powers have been in place since the late 1990s, but there are a few devolution issues that have been peculiar to this campaign.

The first has been the inclusion of SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood in the UK-wide televised leaders' debates.

However much viewers in the rest of the UK might have been impressed by those two leaders, they are unable to vote for either of those parties as Plaid Cymru and the SNP are only putting up candidates in their home countries.

The other point is that Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are all in favour of devolving more powers to the Scottish Parliament.

That is on top of the powers from the Scotland Act 2012, which do not fully come into force until next year.

So for voters in Scotland, during the next Parliament your Westminster MP will in fact have less power over issues that affect you than during the previous Parliament.

Election 2015 - Reality Check

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