The story of regionalism in the UK is a slightly unusual one 1 since, unlike Belgium, France, Italy and Spain and despite marked cultural heterogeneity – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – no regional government has ever been created until the Northern Ireland Assembly was created in 1998. This regional government was rapidly followed by the creation of the Scottish Parliament and a Welsh Assembly, both in 1999. Historically, the only level of democratic government below the central government has been local government. Unlike much of Western Europe, Britain was totally uninfluenced by the Napoleonic concept of the prefect and his domain. The regional story is therefore one of aspirations and it goes back to the mid-19th century.