Frank Cranmer has a created a useful guide to understanding church and state in the United Kingdom, which is not only needed by politicians and religious leaders there and is also a useful primer for Episcopalians.
When matters touching on relations between religion and the state are discussed it not infrequently happens that the terminology becomes hopelessly confused and misused – sometimes by people who really should know better. So the following is a cut-out-and-keep guide to the absolute basics of Church and State.
First, there are four separate territories in the United Kingdom: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. (The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are internally self-governing Crown Dependencies outside the United Kingdom.)
Secondly, England, Scotland and Wales together constitute “(Great) Britain” and all four territories together are “The United Kingdom”. (You might think that this is dead obvious – but how many times do you hear politicians getting it wrong?)
Thirdly, there are three distinct legal jurisdictions in the United Kingdom: England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland – though as a result of the latest round of legislative devolution it is possible that, over time, Wales will evolve into a separate jurisdiction of its own.
Fourthly, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales each has a devolved domestic legislature; but legislation for the UK as a whole and for England on its own is enacted by the UK Parliament at Westminster.
Finally, the legal position of the Churches differs in each of the four countries….