What has happened to devolution in the UK since 1999?

As voters prepare to decide whether the Welsh assembly should receive more law-making powers, BBC Wales political reporter Daniel Davies looks at the state of devolution around the UK.

Few events unite Wales like the Six Nations. Whether celebrating victories or mourning defeats, the Welsh seldom seem to share a common purpose like they do during the annual rugby tournament.

It is unlikely the referendum will recreate the euphoria of a grand slam - even if the man leading the Yes campaign is the boss of the Welsh Rugby Union - but the opposing camps would do well to aim for creating a similar sense of national unity.

Wales win 2005 Grand Slam Will Yes or No campaigners be celebrating when the referendum result is on announced on 4 March?

No campaigners hope voters will unite to resist what they claim is another slide on a slippery slope towards independence.

For Yes campaigners, it is a chance for Wales to prove it can govern itself as well as Scotland.

While Welsh voters grapple with how to vote, rugby fans heading to Murrayfield next week will arrive in a country where the debate about the direction of devolution has reached new terrain.

The view from Edinburgh

As a decade of Scottish devolution has passed, debate over the nation's constitutional future has never been more intense.

The SNP minority government, lacking support for its independence referendum bill, has shelved the plan.

That issue will rear its head in the coming elections, but, for the moment, the focus has shifted to increasing Holyrood's powers.

The Scotland Bill, currently going through Westminster (with a little help from the Scottish Parliament), proposes a series of new devolved powers.

The most significant of these are new financial powers worth £12bn, which UK ministers say will allow Scotland to control a third of its budget under a new Scottish-set income tax and borrowing regime.

Scottish Secretary and Lib Dem MP Michael Moore describes the package as "the biggest transfer of fiscal power to Scotland since the creation of the United Kingdom".

He says the bill will also address concerns that the Scottish government, whose budget is funded by a Treasury block grant, is not properly accountable for the cash it spends.

Since these reforms were first mooted by the Calman Commission review of devolution, the SNP has kept its enthusiasm to a minimum.

Yes, the Nationalists will always welcome more powers for Scotland, and they back the devolution of drink-drive, speed limit and airgun laws under the bill.

But, with an independence referendum on the back burner, the SNP has swivelled its sights to full fiscal autonomy for Scotland.

This is the power they say will provide real clout and, until that happens, argue Holyrood is nothing more than a "pocket money parliament" under Westminster control.

Despite never using its ability to vary income tax by 3p in the pound, the Scottish parliament would receive more responsibility for borrowing and taxation under proposals going through Westminster.

The UK government says the Scotland Bill is a major transfer of fiscal powers to Edinburgh, but it is opposed by the nationalist SNP for not going far enough.

Arising from the Calman Commission review of devolution, the Bill would cut Scotland's block grant and allow Holyrood to make up the shortfall through income tax and borrowing.

In Northern Ireland too, the next flashpoint could be about money. Northern Ireland's devolved administration, like in Wales and in Scotland, decides how to spend the money it receives from Westminster.

Local business leaders look enviously over the border at the Republic of Ireland's lower corporation tax rates. The secretary of state is considering whether the north should also be able to lower its rate.

Similar debates about public funding are taking place in Wales, with the assembly government pushing for reform of the Treasury formula that sets the devolved budgets.

But the vote on 3 March is about one thing and one thing only - part four of the 2006 Government of Wales Act.

You'll be forgiven if the terminology doesn't whet the appetite. Put simply, voting Yes would increase the assembly's law-making control over policy areas, such as schools and health. And nothing else.

Whatever the outcome, the assembly would not be able to deal in matters that are reserved by Westminster. AMs would not be able to take charge of law and order, levy taxes nor gain new borrowing powers.

In the first decade of devolution - a decade of rising public spending and economic stability - the big question for Welsh devolution was not about money, but law-making powers.

The Scottish parliament and Northern Ireland assembly already have those primary legislative powers. For example, Scotland was able to ban smoking in public before Wales, despite the assembly voting for a ban first.

The view from Belfast

In Northern Ireland the 108 MLAs have the power to make decisions and pass laws in areas such as agriculture, health, education, housing, the environment and planning.

Last year, after marathon negotiations between the parties and the British and Irish governments, the assembly was also given control over the sensitive areas of policing and criminal justice.

They were previously "reserved" by Westminster. London still retains power over matters of defence, foreign policy and broadcasting.

The next battle ground will probably be over fiscal powers. Currently the assembly sets its own budget deciding how the money provided by Westminster through the block grant is spent.

The assembly is able to set its own district rate - but this is just a small percentage of the cash required to run Northern Ireland.

Sinn Fein, however, believes the assembly should have its own tax-varying powers, another matter still "reserved" by central government.

More likely, in the short term at least, is giving the assembly the power to lower Northern Ireland's rate of corporation tax to bring it into line with the Irish Republic.

The UK rate is currently 28% compared to the Republic's rate of 12.5%, which business leaders in Northern Ireland believe is a serious bar to foreign direct investment.

The issue is currently being considered by the Secretary of State Owen Patterson. But were Westminster to agree it could see Northern Ireland's block grant losing hundreds of million pounds a year.

What's more, the powers devolved to Edinburgh and Belfast cover a wider area. Last year, powers over policing and justice were transferred to Northern Ireland after a 38-year gap in what was called the final piece of the devolution jigsaw.

Whatever the result declared on Friday 4 March, devolution has not stood still in Wales since AMs arrived at their desks in 1999.

Cardiff Bay has acquired powers from parliament in all sorts of areas. The process moved up a gear in 2007 thanks to a system that lets the assembly request powers in specific fields, though the success of that system is disputed by the opposing sides in the referendum.

When he published the Bill to boost the assembly's powers in 2005, the then Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said he hoped it would "settle for a generation - if not more" Wales' "constitutional obsession" with the powers and status of the assembly.

Alan Trench, a constitutional expert at University College London, said: "Generations have got very, very short in the history of devolution."

Both the current and previous UK government's were "muddling along" with devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, he said.

"They don't have an overall strategy that's very clear and they're responding on a case-by-case, country-by-country basis."

There are separate debates about where Wales goes next in Wales. In their One-Wales coalition agreement, Labour and Plaid Cymru promised to consider the potential for devolving the criminal justice system. And the Holtham Commission into public funding for Wales recommended the assembly government have the power to vary income taxes.

You might think that such questions show Wales' growing maturity. Or that they are another slide along that slippery slope towards fragmenting the UK.

Anyone who follows Welsh politics will be familiar with former Welsh Secretary Ron Davies' remark that devolution is a process, not an event.

Like all good cliches, it is proving itself true.

Wherever you go in the UK, after more than a decade, the devolution process shows no sign of slowing.

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