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The Scottish Parliament ( gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba ; Scots: ''Scots Pairlament'') is the
devolved Devolution is the statutory delegation of powers from the central government A central government is the government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), st ...
,
unicameral In government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by ...
legislature of
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...

Scotland
. Located in the Holyrood area of the capital city,
Edinburgh Edinburgh (; sco, Edinburgh; gd, Dùn Èideann ) is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 Council areas of Scotland, council areas. Historically part of the county of Midlothian (interchangeably Edinburghshire before 1921), it is ...

Edinburgh
, it is frequently referred to by the
metonym Metonymy () is a figure of speech A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase that entails an intentional deviation from ordinary language use in order to produce a rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of p ...
Holyrood. The Parliament is a democratically elected body comprising 129 members known as
Members of the Scottish Parliament Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP; gd, Ball Pàrlamaid na h-Alba, BPA; sco, Memmer o the Scots Pairliament, MSP) is the title given to any one of the 129 individuals elected to serve in the Scottish Parliament The Scottish Parliament ...
(MSPs), elected for five-year terms under the
additional member system The additional member system (AMS), also known as mixed-member proportional representation Mixed-member proportional representation (MMP or MMPR) is a mixed electoral system in which voters get two votes: one to decide the legislator, rep ...
: 73 MSPs represent individual geographical
constituencies An electoral district, also known as an election district, legislative district, voting district, constituency, riding, ward, division, (election) precinct, electoral area, circumscription, or electorate, is a subdivision of a larger state Sta ...
elected by the
plurality Plurality may refer to: Voting * Plurality (voting), the most votes for any choice in an election, but not necessarily a majority ** Plurality voting, system in which each voter votes for one candidate and the candidate with a plurality is elected ...
(first-past-the-post) system, while a further 56 are returned as list members from eight additional member regions. Each region elects seven party-list MSPs. Each region elects 15 to 17 MSPs in total. The most recent
general election A general election is a political voting election where generally all or most members of a given political body are chosen. These are usually held for a nation, state, or territory's primary legislative body, and are different from by-election ...
to the Parliament was held on 6 May 2021, with the
Scottish National Party The Scottish National Party (SNP; sco, Scots National Pairty, gd, Pàrtaidh Nàiseanta na h-Alba ) is a Scottish nationalist Scottish nationalism promotes the idea that the Scottish people form a cohesive nation and Scottish national iden ...
winning a plurality. The original
Parliament of Scotland The Parliament of Scotland ( sco, Pairlament o Scotland; gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba) was the legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereig ...
was the national legislature of the independent
Kingdom of Scotland The Kingdom of Scotland ( gd, Rìoghachd na h-Alba; sco, Kinrick o Scotland) was a sovereign state in northwest Europe traditionally said to have been founded in 843. Its territories expanded and shrank, but it came to occupy the northern thi ...
, and existed from the early 13th century until the Kingdom of Scotland merged with the
Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or ...

Kingdom of England
under the
Acts of Union 1707 The Acts of Union ( gd, Achd an Aonaidh) were two Acts of Parliament Acts of parliament, sometimes referred to as primary legislation In parliamentary systems and presidential systems of government, primary legislation and secondary legisl ...
to form the
Kingdom of Great Britain The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called Great Britain,"After the political union of England and Scotland in 1707, the nation's official name became 'Great Britain'", ''The American Pageant, Volume 1'', Cengage Learning (2012) was a s ...

Kingdom of Great Britain
. As a consequence, both the Parliament of Scotland and the
Parliament of England The Parliament of England was the legislature A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who u ...
ceased to exist, and the
Parliament of Great Britain The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in May 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of UnionAct of Union may refer to: In Great Britain and Ireland * Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542, passed during the reign of King Henry VIII to m ...
, which sat at
Westminster Westminster is a district in Central London Central London is the innermost part of London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. The city sta ...

Westminster
in London, was formed. Following a referendum in 1997, in which the Scottish electorate voted for devolution, the powers of the
devolved Devolution is the statutory delegation of powers from the central government A central government is the government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), st ...
legislature were specified by the
Scotland Act 1998 The Scotland Act 1998 (c. 46) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * ...
. The Act delineates the legislative competence of the Parliament – the areas in which it can make
laws Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bounda ...
– by explicitly specifying powers that are "
reserved Reserved is a Poland, Polish clothing store chain, part of LPP (company), LPP, which has more than 1,700 stores located in 20 countries. History The LPP company was established in 1989 and the first stores under the Reserved fashion brand were ...
" to the
Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kin ...
. The Scottish Parliament has the power to legislate in all areas that are not explicitly reserved to Westminster. The UK Parliament retains the ability to amend the terms of reference of the Scottish Parliament, and can extend or reduce the areas in which it can make laws. The first meeting of the new Parliament took place on 12 May 1999. The legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament has been amended numerous times since then. The
Scotland Act 2012 The Scotland Act 2012 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, politi ...
and
Scotland Act 2016 The Scotland Act 2016 (c. 11) is an act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Cro ...
expanded the Parliament's powers, especially over taxation and welfare. The
United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 The United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 is an Act of Parliament, act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed in December 2020. It is concerned with trade within the UK, as the UK is no longer subject to Regulation (European Union), EU ...
seeks to restrict the exercise of devolved competences both legally and practically. It aims to avoid regulatory divergence by the devolved nations following
Brexit Brexit (; a portmanteau of "British exit") was the Withdrawal from the European Union, withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC or Euratom) at 23:00 31 January 2020 Green ...

Brexit
and, while not particularly changing devolved competences on paper, restricts the way that devolved competences operate in practice by imposing requirements of market non-discrimination and mutual recognition. Its effect is to undermine the freedom of action, regulatory competence and authority of the Parliament, limiting its ability to make different economic or social choices to those made in
Westminster Westminster is a district in Central London Central London is the innermost part of London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. The city sta ...
.


History of the Scottish Parliament

Before the
Treaty of Union 1707 The Treaty of Union is the name usually now given to the agreement which led to the creation of the new state of kingdom of Great Britain, Great Britain, stating that Kingdom of England, England (which already included Wales) and Kingdom of S ...
united the
Kingdom of Scotland The Kingdom of Scotland ( gd, Rìoghachd na h-Alba; sco, Kinrick o Scotland) was a sovereign state in northwest Europe traditionally said to have been founded in 843. Its territories expanded and shrank, but it came to occupy the northern thi ...
and the
Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or ...

Kingdom of England
into a new state called "
Great Britain Great Britain is an island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atoll An atoll (), ...

Great Britain
", Scotland had an
independent Independent or Independents may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Artist groups * Independents (artist group), a group of modernist painters based in the New Hope, Pennsylvania, area of the United States during the early 1930s * Independen ...

independent
parliament known as the
Parliament of Scotland The Parliament of Scotland ( sco, Pairlament o Scotland; gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba) was the legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereig ...
. Initial Scottish proposals in the negotiation over the Union suggested a devolved Parliament be retained in Scotland, but this was not accepted by the
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
negotiators. For the next three hundred years, Scotland was directly governed by the
Parliament of Great Britain The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in May 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of UnionAct of Union may refer to: In Great Britain and Ireland * Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542, passed during the reign of King Henry VIII to m ...
and the subsequent
Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kin ...
, both seated at Westminster, and the lack of a Parliament of Scotland remained an important element in
Scottish national identity Scottish national identity is a term referring to the sense of national identity National identity is a person's identity or sense of belonging to one or more states or to one or more nations A nation is a community of people formed on the ...
. Suggestions for a 'devolved' Parliament were made before 1914, but were shelved due to the outbreak of the
First World War World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainmen ...

First World War
. A sharp rise in nationalism in Scotland during the late 1960s fuelled demands for some form of
home rule Home rule is government of a colony, dependent country, or region by its own citizens. It is thus the power of a part (administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative ...
or complete
independence Independence is a condition of a person, nation, country, or Sovereign state, state in which residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over its territory. The opposite of independe ...
, and in 1969 prompted the incumbent
Labour Labour or labor may refer to: * Childbirth Childbirth, also known as labour or delivery, is the ending of pregnancy where one or more babies leaves the uterus by passing through the vagina or by Caesarean section. In 2015, there were about 13 ...
government of
Harold Wilson James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, (11 March 1916 – 24 May 1995) was a British politician who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The hea ...

Harold Wilson
to set up the Kilbrandon Commission to consider the
British constitution The Constitution of the United Kingdom or British constitution comprises the written and unwritten arrangements that establish the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Irel ...
. One of the principal objectives of the commission was to examine ways of enabling more self-government for Scotland, within the unitary state of the United Kingdom. Kilbrandon published his report in 1973 recommending the establishment of a directly elected
Scottish Assembly The Scottish Assembly was a proposed legislature for Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain ...
to legislate for the majority of domestic Scottish affairs. During this time, the discovery of
oil An oil is any nonpolar In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the Chemical element, elements that make up matter to the chemical compound ...
in the
North Sea The North Sea is a sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
and the following "
It's Scotland's oil "It's Scotland's oil" was a widely publicised political slogan used by the Scottish National Party The Scottish National Party (SNP; sco, Scots National Pairty, gd, Pàrtaidh Nàiseanta na h-Alba) is a Scottish nationalist Scottish natio ...
" campaign of the
Scottish National Party The Scottish National Party (SNP; sco, Scots National Pairty, gd, Pàrtaidh Nàiseanta na h-Alba ) is a Scottish nationalist Scottish nationalism promotes the idea that the Scottish people form a cohesive nation and Scottish national iden ...
(SNP) resulted in rising support for Scottish independence, as well as the SNP. The party argued that the revenues from the oil were not benefitting Scotland as much as they should. The combined effect of these events led to
Prime Minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpa ...
Wilson committing his government to some form of devolved legislature in 1974. Under the terms of the Scotland Act 1978, an elected assembly would be set up in Edinburgh if the public approved it in a referendum be held on 1 March 1979. A narrow majority of 51.6% to 48.4% voted in favour of a Scottish Assembly, but the Act also required that at least 40% of the total electorate vote in favour of the proposal. As the turnout was only 63.6%, the vote in favour represented only 32.9% of the eligible voting population, and the Assembly was not established. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, demand for a Scottish Parliament grew, in part because the
government of the United Kingdom ga, Rialtas na Ríochta Aontaithe sco, Govrenment o the Unitit Kinrick , image = HM Government logo.svg , image_size=220px, date_established = , state = United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, comm ...
was controlled by the
Conservative Party Conservative Party may refer to: Europe Current *Croatian Conservative Party, *Conservative Party (Czech Republic) *Conservative People's Party (Denmark) *Conservative Party of Georgia *Conservative Party (Norway) *Conservative Party (UK) Histor ...

Conservative Party
, while Scotland itself elected relatively few Conservative MPs. In the aftermath of the 1979 referendum defeat, the
Campaign for a Scottish Assembly The Scottish Constitutional Convention (SCC) was an association of Scottish political parties, churches and other civic groups, that developed a framework for a Scottish devolution. It is credited as having paved the way for the establishment of ...
was initiated as a
pressure group Advocacy groups, also known as special interest groups, use various forms of advocacy in order to influence public opinion and ultimately policy. They play an important role in the development of political and social systems. Motives for actio ...
, leading to the 1989
Scottish Constitutional Convention The Scottish Constitutional Convention (SCC) was an association of Scottish political parties, churches and other civic groups, that developed a framework for a Scottish devolution. It is credited as having paved the way for the establishment of ...
with various organisations such as Scottish churches,
political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidate A candidate, or nominee, is the prospective recipient of an award or honor, or a person seeking or being considered for some kind of position; for example: * to be elected to ...
and representatives of industry taking part. Publishing its blueprint for devolution in 1995, the Convention provided much of the basis for the structure of the Parliament. Devolution continued to form part of the platform of the Labour Party which won power under
Tony Blair Sir Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (born 6 May 1953) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party (UK), Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007. On his resig ...

Tony Blair
in May 1997. In September 1997, the Scottish devolution referendum was put to the Scottish electorate and secured a majority in favour of the establishment of a new devolved Scottish Parliament, with tax-varying powers, in Edinburgh. An election was held on 6 May 1999, and on 1 July of that year power was transferred from Westminster to the new Parliament.


Building and grounds

Since September 2004, the official home of the Scottish Parliament has been a new
Scottish Parliament Building The Scottish Parliament Building ( gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba; sco, Scots Pairlament Biggin) is the home of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, Edinburgh, Holyrood, within the World Heritage Site, UNESCO World Heritage Site in central Edinburgh ...
, in the Holyrood area of Edinburgh. The Scottish Parliament building was designed by Spanish architect
Enric Miralles in Edinburgh Image:Scottish Parliament01 2005-11-13.jpg, Debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament Enric Miralles Moya (12 February 1955 – 3 July 2000) was a Spanish architect from Barcelona. He graduated from the Barcelona School of A ...
in partnership with local Edinburgh Architecture firm
RMJM RMJM (Robert Matthew Johnson Marshall) is one of the largest architecture upright=1.45, alt=Plan d'exécution du second étage de l'hôtel de Brionne (dessin) De Cotte 2503c – Gallica 2011 (adjusted), Plan of the second floor (attic st ...

RMJM
which was led by Design Principal Tony Kettle. Some of the principal features of the complex include leaf-shaped buildings, a grass-roofed branch merging into adjacent parkland and
gabion A gabion (from Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Ita ...

gabion
walls formed from the stones of previous buildings. Throughout the building there are many repeated motifs, such as shapes based on Raeburn's .
Crow-stepped gable A stepped gable, crow-stepped gable, or corbie step is a stairstep type of design at the top of the triangular gable A gable is the generally triangular portion of a wall between the edges of intersecting roof pitches. The shape of the gable ...
s and the upturned boat skylights of the Garden Lobby, complete the unique architecture.
Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is Queen of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy A constitutional mo ...

Queen Elizabeth II
opened the new building on 9 October 2004.


Temporary accommodation 1999–2004

While the permanent building at Holyrood was being constructed, a temporary home for the Parliament was found in Edinburgh. The General Assembly Hall of the
Church of Scotland The Church of Scotland (CoS; sco, The Scots Kirk; gd, Eaglais na h-Alba), also known by its Scots language name, the Kirk, is the national National may refer to: Common uses * Nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis ...

Church of Scotland
on the
Royal Mile The Royal Mile () is a succession of streets forming the main thoroughfare of the Old Town File:Porvoon tuomiokirkko Näsinmäeltä.JPG, The Medieval, medieval timed old town of Porvoo in Finland, along the Porvoonjoki river in summer time. ...

Royal Mile
was chosen to host the Parliament. Official photographs and television interviews were held in the courtyard adjoining the Assembly Hall, which is part of the of the
University of Edinburgh The University of Edinburgh ( sco, University o Edinburgh, gd, Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann; abbreviated as ''Edin.'' in post-nominals Post-nominal letters, also called post-nominal initials, post-nominal titles, designatory letters or simply ...
. This building was vacated twice to allow for the meeting of the Church's General Assembly. In May 2000, the Parliament was temporarily relocated to the former
Strathclyde Regional Council Strathclyde ( in Gaelic Gaelic is an adjective that means "pertaining to the Gaels". As a noun it refers to the group of languages spoken by the Gaels, or to any one of the languages individually. Gaelic languages are spoken in Ireland, Sco ...

Strathclyde Regional Council
debating chamber in Glasgow, and to the
University of Aberdeen The University of Aberdeen ( sco, University o' 'Aiberdeen; abbreviated as ''Aberd.'' in List of post-nominal letters (United Kingdom), post-nominals; gd, Oilthigh Obar Dheathain) is a public university, public research university in Aberdeen, Sc ...
in May 2002.


Officials

After each election to the Scottish Parliament, at the beginning of each parliamentary session, Parliament elects one MSP to serve as
Presiding OfficerIn a general sense, presiding officer is synonymous with chairperson. Politics *Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales, the Speaker of the National Assembly for Wales *Presiding Officer of the Northern Ireland Assembly *Presiding Offic ...
, the equivalent of the speaker in other legislatures, and two MSPs to serve as deputies. The Presiding Officer (currently
Alison Johnstone Alison Johnstone (born 11 October 1965) is a Scottish Green politician, who has served as a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for the Lothian (Scottish Parliament electoral region), Lothian region since 2011 Scottish Parliament election, 2 ...
) and deputies (currently
Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Janet Ewing (born 20 August 1960) is a Scottish politician, lawyer and former Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs in the Scottish Government. She is the Scottish National Party (SNP) Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) f ...
and Liam McArthur) are elected by a
secret ballot The secret ballot, also known as the Australian ballot, is a voting method in which a voter Voting is a method for a group, such as a meeting or an Constituency, electorate, in order to make a collective decision making, decision or expres ...
of the 129 MSPs, which is the only secret ballot conducted in the Scottish Parliament. Principally, the role of the Presiding Officer is to chair chamber proceedings and the
Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body The Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) is a body of the Scottish Parliament The Scottish Parliament ( gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba; Scots language, Scots: ''Scots Pairlament'') is the Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved, Unicamer ...
. When chairing meetings of the Parliament, the Presiding Officer and his/her deputies must be politically impartial. During debates, the Presiding Officer (or the deputy) is assisted by the parliamentary clerks, who give advice on how to interpret the standing orders that govern the proceedings of meetings. A vote clerk sits in front of the Presiding Officer and operates the electronic voting equipment and chamber clocks. As a member of the
Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body The Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) is a body of the Scottish Parliament The Scottish Parliament ( gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba; Scots language, Scots: ''Scots Pairlament'') is the Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved, Unicamer ...
, the Presiding Officer is responsible for ensuring that the Parliament functions effectively and has the staff, property and resources it requires to operate. Convening the Parliamentary Bureau, which allocates time and sets the work agenda in the chamber, is another of the roles of the Presiding Officer. Under the Standing Orders of the Parliament the Bureau consists of the Presiding Officer and one representative from each political party with five or more seats in the Parliament. Amongst the duties of the Bureau are to agree the timetable of business in the chamber, establish the number, remit and membership of parliamentary committees and regulate the passage of legislation (bills) through the Parliament. The Presiding Officer also represents the Scottish Parliament at home and abroad in an official capacity. The Presiding Officer controls debates by calling on members to speak. If a member believes that a rule (or standing order) has been breached, he or she may raise a "
point of order In parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is the accepted rules Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, m ...
", on which the Presiding Officer makes a ruling that is not subject to any debate or appeal. The Presiding Officer may also discipline members who fail to observe the rules of the Parliament.


Parliamentary chamber

The
debating chamber A debate chamber is a room for people to discuss and debate. Debate chambers are used in governmental and educational bodies, such as a parliament, congress, city council, or a university, either for formal proceedings or for informal discourse, ...
of the Scottish Parliament has seating arranged in a
hemicycle In legislatures A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is the body of ethics, Procedural law, rules, and ...
, a design which is common across European legislatures, intended to encourage consensus and compromise. There are 131 seats in the debating chamber. Of the total 131 seats, 129 are occupied by the Parliament's elected MSPs and two are seats for the Scottish Law Officers—the
Lord Advocate , body = , insignia = Crest of the Kingdom of Scotland.svg , insigniasize = 110px , image = File:Official Portrait of Dorothy Bain QC.png , incumbent = Dorothy Bain QC , incumbentsince = 22 June 2021 , appointer = Monarch A monarch ...
and the
Solicitor General for Scotland , body = , insignia = Crest of the Kingdom of Scotland.svg , insigniasize = 110px , image = File:Solicitor General Alison Di Rollo (27121243080).jpg , incumbent = Alison Di Rollo , incumbentsince = June 2016 , departm ...
, who are not elected members of the Parliament but are members of the Scottish Government. As such, the Law Officers may attend and speak in the plenary meetings of the Parliament but, as they are not elected MSPs, cannot vote. Members are able to sit anywhere in the debating chamber, but typically sit in their party groupings. The First Minister, Scottish
cabinet ministers A cabinet is a body of high-ranking State (polity), state officials, typically consisting of the Executive (government), executive branch's top leaders. Members of a cabinet are usually called cabinet Minister (government), ministers or secret ...
and Law officers sit in the front row, in the middle section of the chamber. The largest party in the Parliament sits in the middle of the semicircle, with opposing parties on either side. The Presiding Officer, parliamentary clerks and officials sit opposite members at the front of the debating chamber. In front of the Presiding Officers' desk is the parliamentary
mace Mace may refer to: Arts and entertainment * Mace (G.I. Joe), a fictional character in the G.I. Joe universe * Mace, a fictional character in the 1995 film ''Strange Days (film), Strange Days'' * Mace, a fictional character in the 2007 film ''Sunsh ...
, which is made from silver and inlaid with gold panned from Scottish rivers and inscribed with the words: ''Wisdom'', ''Compassion'', ''Justice'' and ''Integrity''. The words ''There shall be a Scottish Parliament'', which are the first words of the Scotland Act, are inscribed around the head of the mace, which has a ceremonial role in the meetings of Parliament, representing the authority of the Parliament to make laws. Presented to the Scottish Parliament by the Queen upon Parliament's official opening in July 1999, the mace is displayed in a glass case, suspended from the lid. At the beginning of each sitting in the chamber, the lid of the case is rotated so that the mace is above the glass, to symbolise that a full meeting of the Parliament is taking place.


Proceedings

Parliament typically sits Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from early January to late June and from early September to mid December, with two-week recesses in April and October. Plenary meetings in the debating chamber usually take place on Wednesday afternoons from 2 pm to 6 pm and on Thursdays from 9:15 am to 6 pm. Chamber debates and committee meetings are open to the public. Entry is free, but booking in advance is recommended due to limited space. Parliament TV is a webcast and archive of Parliamentary business back to 2012. and on the
BBC The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcaster, headquartered at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London. It is the world's oldest national broadcaster, and the largest broadcasting, broadcaster in the world by ...

BBC
's parliamentary channel
BBC Parliament BBC Parliament is a British free-to-air television channel which broadcasts live and recorded coverage of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, House of Commons, House of Lords and Parliamentary select committees of the United Kingdom, Sel ...

BBC Parliament
. Proceedings are also recorded in text form, in print and online, in the ''Official Report'', which is the substantially verbatim transcript of parliamentary debates. Since September 2012, the first item of business on Tuesday afternoons is usually Time for Reflection at which a speaker addresses members for up to four minutes, sharing a perspective on issues of
faith Faith, derived from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of ...

faith
. This contrasts with the formal style of "Prayers", which is the first item of business in meetings of the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorpor ...
. Speakers are drawn from across Scotland and are chosen to represent the balance of religious beliefs according to the Scottish census. Invitations to address Parliament in this manner are determined by the Presiding Officer on the advice of the parliamentary bureau. Faith groups can make direct representations to the Presiding Officer to nominate speakers. Before September 2012, Time for reflection was held on Wednesday afternoons. The Presiding Officer (or Deputy Presiding Officer) decides who speaks in chamber debates and the amount of time for which they are allowed to speak. Normally, the Presiding Officer tries to achieve a balance between different viewpoints and political parties when selecting members to speak. Typically, ministers or party leaders open debates, with opening speakers given between 5 and 20 minutes, and succeeding speakers allocated less time. The Presiding Officer can reduce speaking time if a large number of members wish to participate in the debate. Debate is more informal than in some parliamentary systems. Members may call each other directly by name, rather than by constituency or cabinet position, and hand clapping is allowed. Speeches to the chamber are normally delivered in English, but members may use Scots,
Gaelic Gaelic is an adjective that means "pertaining to the Gaels". As a noun it refers to the group of languages spoken by the Gaels, or to any one of the languages individually. Gaelic languages are spoken in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. Whe ...
, or any other language with the agreement of the Presiding Officer. The Scottish Parliament has conducted debates in the Gaelic language. Each sitting day, normally at 5 pm, MSPs decide on all the
motions 300px, Motion involves a change in position In physics, motion is the phenomenon in which an object changes its position over time. Motion is mathematically described in terms of displacement, distance Distance is a numerical measurement of ...
and amendments that have been moved that day. This "Decision Time" is heralded by the sounding of the division bell, which is heard throughout the Parliamentary campus and alerts MSPs who are not in the chamber to return and vote. At Decision Time, the Presiding Officer puts questions on the motions and amendments by reading out the name of the motion or amendment as well as the proposer and asking "''Are we all agreed?''", to which the chamber first votes orally. If there is audible dissent, the Presiding Officer announces "''There will be a division''" and members vote by means of electronic consoles on their desks. Each MSP has a unique access card with a
microchip An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit (also referred to as an IC, a chip, or a microchip) is a set of electronic circuit An electronic circuit is composed of individual electronic component An electronic component i ...

microchip
which, when inserted into the console, identifies them and allows them to vote. As a result, the outcome of each division is known in seconds. The outcome of most votes can be predicted since political parties normally instruct members which way to vote. Parties entrust some MSPs, known as
whips A whip is a tool designed to strike humans or other animals to exert control through pain compliance Pain compliance is the use of painful stimulus to control or direct an organism. The stimulus can be manual (brute force, placing pressure on ...
, with the task of ensuring that party members vote according to the party line. MSPs do not tend to vote against such instructions, since those who do are unlikely to reach higher political ranks in their parties. Errant members can be deselected as official party candidates during future elections, and, in serious cases, may be expelled from their parties outright.Kingdom, J. (1999), p. 374. Thus, as with many Parliaments, the independence of Members of the Scottish Parliament tends to be low, and backbench rebellions by members who are discontent with their party's policies are rare. In some circumstances, however, parties announce "free votes", which allows Members to vote as they please. This is typically done on
moral A moral (from Latin ''morālis'') is a message that is conveyed or a lesson to be learned from a narrative, story or wikt:event, event. The moral may be left to the hearer, reader, or viewer to determine for themselves, or may be explicitly enca ...

moral
issues. Immediately after Decision Time a "Members Debate" is held, which lasts for 45 minutes. Members Business is a debate on a motion proposed by an MSP who is not a Scottish minister. Such motions are on issues which may be of interest to a particular area such as a member's own constituency, an upcoming or past event or any other item which would otherwise not be accorded official parliamentary time. As well as the proposer, other members normally contribute to the debate. The relevant minister, whose department the debate and motion relate to "winds up" the debate by speaking after all other participants.


Committees

Much of the work of the Scottish Parliament is done in
committee A committee or commission is a body of one or more persons subordinate to an assembly. A committee is not itself considered to be a form of assembly. Usually, the assembly sends matters into a committee as a way to explore them more fully than w ...

committee
. The role of committees is stronger in the Scottish Parliament than in other parliamentary systems, partly as a means of strengthening the role of backbenchers in their scrutiny of the government and partly to compensate for the fact that there is no revising chamber. The principal role of committees in the Scottish Parliament is to take evidence from witnesses, conduct inquiries and scrutinise legislation. Committee meetings take place on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning when Parliament is sitting. Committees can also meet at other locations throughout Scotland. Committees comprise a small number of MSPs, with membership reflecting the balance of parties across Parliament. There are different committees with their functions set out in different ways. Mandatory Committees are committees which are set down under the Scottish Parliament's standing orders, which govern their remits and proceedings. The current Mandatory Committees in the fourth Session of the Scottish Parliament are: Public
Audit An audit is an "independent examination of financial information of any entity, whether profit oriented or not, irrespective of its size or legal form when such an examination is conducted with a view to express an opinion thereon.” Auditin ...

Audit
; Equal Opportunities;
European European, or Europeans, may refer to: In general * ''European'', an adjective referring to something of, from, or related to Europe ** Ethnic groups in Europe ** Demographics of Europe ** European cuisine, the cuisines of Europe and other Western ...
and External Relations; Finance; Public Petitions; Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments; and Delegated Powers and Law Reform. Subject Committees are established at the beginning of each parliamentary session, and again the members on each committee reflect the balance of parties across Parliament. Typically each committee corresponds with one (or more) of the departments (or ministries) of the Scottish Government. The current Subject Committees in the fourth Session are: Economy, Energy and Tourism; Education and Culture; Health and Sport;
Justice Justice, in its broadest sense, is the principle that people receive that which they deserve, with the interpretation of what then constitutes "deserving" being impacted upon by numerous fields, with many differing viewpoints and perspectives, ...
; Local Government and Regeneration; Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment; Welfare Reform; and Infrastructure and Capital Investment. A further type of committee is normally set up to scrutinise
private bill Proposed bills are often categorized into public bills and private bills. A public bill is a proposed law which would apply to everyone within its jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin ''Wikt:ius#Latin, juris'' 'law' + ''Wikt:dictio, dictio'' ...
s submitted to the Scottish Parliament by an outside party or promoter who is not a member of the Scottish Parliament or Scottish Government. Private bills normally relate to large-scale development projects such as infrastructure projects that require the use of land or property. Private Bill Committees have been set up to consider legislation on issues such as the development of the
Edinburgh Tram Network Edinburgh Trams is a tramway in Edinburgh Edinburgh (; sco, Edinburgh; gd, Dùn Èideann ) is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 Council areas of Scotland, council areas. Historically part of the county of Midlothian (interc ...
, the
Glasgow Airport Rail Link The Glasgow Airport Rail Link (GARL) is a proposed link between Glasgow City Centre and Glasgow Airport. The original plans for an airport rail link were proposed during the 2000s to directly link Glasgow Central railway station, Glasgow Central ...
, the Airdrie-Bathgate Rail Link and extensions to the
National Gallery of Scotland The Scottish National Gallery (formerly the National Gallery of Scotland) is the national art gallery of Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. Coveri ...
.


Legislative functions


Constitution and powers

The
Scotland Act 1998 The Scotland Act 1998 (c. 46) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * ...
, which was passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom and given royal assent by Queen Elizabeth II on 19 November 1998, governs the functions and role of the Scottish Parliament and delimits its legislative competence. Since the establishment of the Parliament, there have been a number of changes to its legislative competence. The
Scotland Act 2012 The Scotland Act 2012 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, politi ...
and the
Scotland Act 2016 The Scotland Act 2016 (c. 11) is an act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Cro ...
extended the devolved competencies, while the
United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 The United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 is an Act of Parliament, act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed in December 2020. It is concerned with trade within the UK, as the UK is no longer subject to Regulation (European Union), EU ...
seeks to restrict their operation. The latter legislation, passed under the government of
Boris Johnson Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (; born 19 June 1964) is a British politician and writer serving as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of govern ...

Boris Johnson
, gives UK ministers extended powers to enforce mutual recognition of regulations across the UK, and the exemptions permitted for the devolved administrations are much less extensive than previous exemptions under the rules. On paper, it does not particularly change devolution compentences, but it does both legally and practically restrain the legislative competence of the Parliament. Although the UK Government stated on publication that the proposed bill sought to "protect the integrity of the UK's single market", the legislation has been heavily criticised for its dealings with the devolved nations. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called the bill a "full frontal assault on devolution". The legislation undermines the freedom of action, regulatory competence and authority of the Parliament, limiting its ability to make different economic or social choices from those made in Westminster, and to focus and plan investment in infrastructure in Scotland. For the purposes of
parliamentary sovereignty Parliamentary sovereignty (also called parliamentary supremacy or legislative supremacy) is a concept in the constitutional law Constitutional law is a body of law which defines the role, powers, and structure of different entities within a , n ...
, the Parliament of the United Kingdom at Westminster continues to constitute the supreme legislature of Scotland. However, under the terms of the Scotland Acts, Westminster agreed to devolve some of its responsibilities over Scottish domestic policy to the Scottish Parliament. Such "devolved matters" include education, health,
agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary behaviors su ...
and justice. The Scotland Act 1998 enabled the Scottish Parliament to pass
primary legislation In parliamentary systems and presidential systems of government, primary legislation and secondary legislation, the latter also called delegated legislation or subordinate legislation, are two forms of law, created respectively by the legislatur ...
on these issues. A degree of domestic authority, and all
foreign policy ''Foreign Policy'' is an American news publication, founded in 1970 and focused on global affairs, current events, and domestic and international policy. It produces content daily on its website, and in six print issues annually. ''Foreign Poli ...
, remain with the UK Parliament in Westminster. The Scottish Parliament has the power to pass laws and has tax powers. Another of the roles of the Parliament is to hold the Scottish Government to account.Cairney, Paul and Johnston, James, "What is the Role of the Scottish Parliament", Scottish Parliamentary Review, Vol. I, No. 2 (Jan 2014) dinburgh: Blacket Avenue Press/ref> Although the Westminster Parliament retains the authority to legislate on devolved matters, under the Legislative consent motion, Sewell convention it is understood that it will not do so without the consent of the Scottish Parliament. The specific devolved matters are all subjects which are not explicitly stated in Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act as reserved and excepted matters, reserved matters. All matters that are not specifically reserved are automatically devolved to the Scottish Parliament. Most importantly, these include agriculture; fisheries; environment; aquaculture; forestry; food standards; water; animal welfare; land reform and use; the Crown Estate; Economy of Scotland, economic development; education; consumer advocacy; health; social care; Scots law, legal system; civil, criminal and family law; Courts in Scotland, courts; legal profession; police and fire services; prisons; control of air guns; alcohol licensing; planning permission; local government; Sport in Scotland, sport; the arts; many aspects of transport (including rail franchising); training; Tourism in Scotland, tourism; research and statistics; social work; and some powers over social security. In terms of tax powers, the Scottish Parliament has full control over income tax rates and thresholds on all non-savings and non-dividend income liable for tax by taxpayers resident in Scotland. The Scottish Parliament also has full control over Council Tax, Business rates in Scotland, business rates, Air Departure Tax, Land and Buildings Transaction Tax and Scottish Landfill Tax. Reserved matters are subjects that are outside the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Parliament is unable to legislate on such issues that are reserved to, and dealt with at, Westminster (and where Ministerial functions usually lie with UK Government ministers). These include Media of the United Kingdom, broadcasting policy; Civil Service (United Kingdom), civil service; common markets for UK goods and services; Constitution of the United Kingdom, constitution; Energy use and conservation in the United Kingdom, electricity; coal; oil; gas; Nuclear power in the United Kingdom, nuclear energy; Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom), defence and national security; Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, drug policy; employment; foreign policy; reserved tax powers; most aspects of Transport in the United Kingdom, transport safety and regulation; National Lottery (United Kingdom), National Lottery; protection of borders; most aspects of National Insurance, social security and stability of UK's fiscal, Economy of the United Kingdom, economic and Banknotes of the pound sterling, monetary system. Members of the public take part in Parliament in two ways that are not the case at Westminster: a public petitioning system, and cross-party groups on policy topics which the interested public join and attend meetings of, alongside MSPs. The Parliament is able to debate any issue (including those reserved to Westminster) but is unable to make laws on issues that are outside its legislative competence.


Bills

As the Scottish Parliament is able to make laws on the areas constitutionally devolved to it, the legislative process begins with bill (proposed law), bills (draft laws) which are presented to Parliament. Bills can be introduced to Parliament in a number of ways; the Scottish Government can introduce new laws or amendments to existing laws as a bill; a committee of the Parliament can present a bill in one of the areas under its remit; a member of the Scottish Parliament can introduce a bill as a private member; or a
private bill Proposed bills are often categorized into public bills and private bills. A public bill is a proposed law which would apply to everyone within its jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin ''Wikt:ius#Latin, juris'' 'law' + ''Wikt:dictio, dictio'' ...
can be submitted to Parliament by an outside proposer. Most draft laws are government bills introduced by ministers in the governing party (or parties). Bills pass through Parliament in a number of stages before receiving royal assent, whereupon they become Acts of the Scottish Parliament.


Scrutiny of government

The party, or parties, that hold the majority of seats in the Parliament forms the Scottish Government. In contrast to many other parliamentary systems, Parliament elects a First Minister of Scotland, First Minister from a number of candidates at the beginning of each parliamentary term (after a Elections in Scotland, general election). Any member can put their name forward to be First Minister, and a vote is taken by all members of Parliament. Normally, the leader of the largest party is returned as First Minister, and head of the Scottish Government. Theoretically, Parliament also elects the Scottish Ministers who form the government of Scotland and sit in the Scottish cabinet, but such ministers are, in practice, appointed to their roles by the First Minister. Junior ministers, who do not attend cabinet, are also appointed to assist Scottish ministers in their departments. Most ministers and their juniors are drawn from amongst the elected MSPs, with the exception of Scotland's Chief Law Officers: the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General. Whilst the First Minister chooses the ministers – and may decide to remove them at any time – the formal appointment or dismissal is made by the Sovereign. Under the Scotland Act 1998, ordinary general elections for the Scottish Parliament are held on the first Thursday in May every four years (1999 Scottish Parliament election, 1999, 2003 Scottish Parliament election, 2003, 2007 Scottish Parliament election, 2007 and so on). The date of the poll may be varied by up to one month either way by the Monarch on the proposal of the Presiding Officer. If the Parliament itself resolves that it should be dissolved (with at least two-thirds of the Members voting in favour), or if the Parliament fails to nominate one of its members to be First Minister within 28 days of a General Election or of the position becoming vacant, the Presiding Officer proposes a date for an extraordinary general election and the Parliament is dissolved by the Queen by royal proclamation. Extraordinary general elections are in addition to ordinary general elections, unless held less than six months before the due date of an ordinary general election, in which case they supplant it. The following ordinary election reverts to the first Thursday in May, a multiple of four years after 1999 (i.e., 5 May 2011, 7 May 2015, etc.). Several procedures enable the Scottish Parliament to scrutinise the Government. The First Minister or members of the cabinet can deliver statements to Parliament upon which MSPs are invited to question. For example, at the beginning of each parliamentary year, the First Minister delivers a statement to the chamber setting out the Government's legislative programme for the forthcoming year. After the statement has been delivered, the leaders of the opposition parties and other MSPs question the First Minister on issues related to the substance of the statement. Parliamentary time is also set aside for question periods in the debating chamber. A "General Question Time" takes place on a Thursday between 11:40 a.m. and noon where members can direct questions to any member of the Scottish Government. At 2:30 pm, a 40-minute-long themed "Question Time" takes place, where members can ask questions of ministers in departments that are selected for questioning that sitting day, such as health and justice or education and transport. Between noon and 12:30 p.m. on Thursdays, when Parliament is sitting, First Minister's Questions (Scottish Parliament), First Minister's Question Time takes place. This gives members an opportunity to question the First Minister directly on issues under their jurisdiction. Members who wish to ask general or themed questions, or questions of the First Minister, must lodge them with parliamentary clerks beforehand and selections are made by the Presiding Officer. Written questions may also be submitted by members to ministers. Written questions and answers are published in the ''Official Report''.


Parliamentary scrutiny in COVID-19

The first session of Leaders’ Virtual Question Time, or virtual First Minister's Questions, was held on 9 April 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scotland, COVID-19 pandemic.


Members, constituencies and voting systems

Elections for the Scottish Parliament were amongst the first in Britain to use a mixed member proportional representation (MMP) system. The system is a form of the Additional Member System, additional member method (AMS) of proportional representation, and is better known as such in Britain. Under the system, voters are given two votes: one for a specific candidate and one for a political party. Of the 129 MSPs, 73 are elected to represent plurality voting system, first past the post
constituencies An electoral district, also known as an election district, legislative district, voting district, constituency, riding, ward, division, (election) precinct, electoral area, circumscription, or electorate, is a subdivision of a larger state Sta ...
and are known as "Constituency MSPs". Voters choose one member to represent the constituency, and the member with most votes is returned as a constituency MSP. The 73 Scottish Parliament constituencies shared the same boundaries as the United Kingdom constituencies, UK Parliament constituencies in Scotland, prior to the 2005 reduction in the number of Scottish MPs, with the exception of Orkney and Shetland which each return their own constituency MSP. Currently, the average Scottish Parliament constituency comprises 55,000 electors. Given the geographical distribution of Demographics of Scotland, population in Scotland, this results in constituencies of a smaller area in the Central Lowlands, where the bulk of Scotland's population live, and much larger constituency areas in the north and west of the country, which have a low population density. The island archipelagos of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles (Scottish Parliament constituency), Western Isles comprise a much smaller number of electors, due to their dispersed population. If a constituency MSP resigns from Parliament, this triggers a by-election in his or her constituency, where a replacement MSP is returned by the plurality system. The remaining 56 MSPs, called "List MSPs", are elected by an additional members system, which seeks to make the overall results more proportional, countering any distortions in the constituency results. Seven list MSPs are elected from each of eight Scottish Parliament constituencies and electoral regions from 2011#Electoral regions, electoral regions, of which constituencies are sub-divisions: * Central Scotland (Scottish Parliament electoral region), Central Scotland * Glasgow (Scottish Parliament electoral region), Glasgow * Highlands and Islands (Scottish Parliament electoral region), Highlands and Islands * Lothian (Scottish Parliament electoral region), Lothian * Mid Scotland and Fife (Scottish Parliament electoral region), Mid Scotland and Fife * North East Scotland (Scottish Parliament electoral region), North East Scotland * South Scotland (Scottish Parliament electoral region), South Scotland * West Scotland (Scottish Parliament electoral region), West Scotland Each political party draws up a list of candidates standing in each electoral region, from which the list MSPs are elected. Independents can also stand in regions, in which case they are treated as a one-person "list". Candidates can stand for both a constituency and a list; should they be elected for a constituency, this takes precedence and they are skipped over when apportioning seats from their party list. If a list MSP later leaves the Parliament, the next person on the resigning MSPs' party's list takes the seat. Should a list MSP leave their party, however, they retain their seat and are not replaced. If an independent list MSP leaves the Parliament, they are not replaced and the seat is left vacant until the next general election. The total number of seats in the Parliament is allocated to parties proportionally to the number of votes received in the second vote of the ballot using the d'Hondt method. For example, to determine who is awarded the first list seat, the number of list votes cast for each party is divided by one plus the number of seats the party won in the region (at this point just constituency seats). The party with the highest quotient is awarded the seat, which is then added to its constituency seats in allocating the second seat. This is repeated Iterated function, iteratively until all available list seats are allocated. As the allocation of seats to parties mirrors the popular vote, it is commonplace for the most successful party in the election not to win an outright majority of the seats, thereby requiring them to seek some form and level of cross-party support for their initiatives in government. Nonetheless, the 2011 election saw the SNP become the first–and to date, only–party to win a majority government. As in the House of Commons, a number of qualifications apply to being an MSP. Such qualifications were introduced under the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 and the British Nationality Act 1981. Specifically, members must be over the age of 18 and must be a British nationality law, citizen of the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, one of the countries in the Commonwealth of Nations, a citizen of a British overseas territory, or a European Union citizen resident in the UK. Members of the police and the armed forces are disqualified from sitting in the Scottish Parliament as elected MSPs, and similarly, civil servants and members of foreign legislatures are disqualified. An individual may not sit in the Scottish Parliament if he or she is judged to be insane under the terms of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003. There is no legal prohibition on holding a dual mandate, sitting in both the Scottish Parliament and the House of Commons. However, while several members of the original Scottish Parliament held seats at Westminster, it is now rare; since 2011, only one MSP has served concurrently as an MP for a significant period of time


Elections

Elections for the Scottish Parliament are for all 129 seats using the Additional Member System. There have been six elections to the Parliament, in 1999 Scottish Parliament election, 1999, 2003 Scottish Parliament election, 2003, 2007 Scottish Parliament election, 2007, 2011 Scottish Parliament election, 2011, 2016 Scottish Parliament election, 2016 and 2021 Scottish Parliament election, 2021. The latest Scottish Parliament election was held on Thursday 6 May 2021. Under the
Scotland Act 1998 The Scotland Act 1998 (c. 46) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * ...
, an ordinary general election to the Scottish Parliament would normally have been held on the first Thursday in May four years after the 2016 Scottish Parliament election, 2016 election, i.e. in May 2020. This would have coincided with the proposed date of the next United Kingdom general election until an early UK election was called 2017 United Kingdom general election, in 2017. In November 2015, the Scottish Government published a Scottish Elections (Dates) Bill, which proposed to extend the term of the Parliament to five years. That Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 25 February 2016 and received Royal Assent on 30 March 2016, setting the new date for the election as 6 May 2021. Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Member state of the European Union, EU member states and other countries who have permission to enter or remain in the UK (or who do not need such permission), and are resident in Scotland, are entitled to vote. The minimum voting age is 16. This differs from elections to Parliament of the United Kingdom, the Westminster parliament, which are restricted to citizens of the UK, Ireland and qualifying Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth citizens, with a minimum voting age of 18. Citizens of other non-Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth Member state of the European Union, EU member states who are resident in Scotland have been entitled to vote in elections to the Scottish Parliament since 1999. Since this date, the franchise has been further extended, with a two-thirds majority being required to make changes to the franchise under the Scotland Act 2016. From the 2016 Scottish Parliament election, 2016 election, the franchise for Scottish Parliament elections was expanded to include 16- and 17-year-olds. In 2020, the Scottish Parliament voted to extend the right to vote in Scotland to all foreign nationals with leave to remain (limited or indefinite).


Criticism

The resignation of Henry McLeish as First Minister, brought on by an Officegate, office expenses scandal, generated controversy in the first years of the Scottish Parliament. Various academics have written on how the Scottish Parliament can be improved as a governing institution.


West Lothian question

As a consequence of the establishment of the Scottish Parliament, Scottish MPs sitting in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, UK House of Commons are able to vote on domestic legislation that applies only to England, Wales, and Northern Ireland – whilst English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Westminster MPs are unable to vote on the domestic legislation of the Scottish Parliament. This phenomenon is known as the West Lothian question and has led to criticism. Following the Conservative victory in the 2015 United Kingdom general election, 2015 UK election, Parliamentary procedure, standing orders of the House of Commons were changed to give MPs representing English constituencies a new "veto" over laws only affecting England, known as English votes for English laws. The mechanism was abolished in 2021.


Abolition

Parties such as the Abolish the Scottish Parliament Party, the UK Independence Party (UKIP), and Scottish Unionist Party (1986), Scottish Unionist Party (SUP) have advocated for the Abolition of the Scottish Parliament, however, none of these parties have ever gained a representative in Scottish Parliament.


Notes


References


Bibliography

* Balfour, A. & McCrone, G. (2005): ''Creating a Scottish Parliament''
StudioLR
* Burrows, N. (1999): "Unfinished Business – The Scotland Act 1998", ''Modern Law Review'', Vol. 62, No. 2 (March 1999), pp. 241–260 * Dardanelli, P. (2005): ''Between Two Unions: Europeanisation and Scottish Devolution'', Manchester University Press, * Hassan, Gerry (1999): ''A Guide to the Scottish Parliament: The Shape of Things to Come'', The Stationery Office", * Hassan, Gerry (2019): ''The Story of the Scottish Parliament: The First Two Decades Explained'', Edinburgh University Press, * Kingdom, J. (1999): ''Government and Politics in Britain, An Introduction'', Polity, * MacLean, B. (2005): ''Getting It Together: Scottish Parliament'', Luath Press Ltd, * McFadden, J. & Lazarowicz, M. (2003): ''The Scottish Parliament: An Introduction'', LexisNexis UK, * Murkens, E.; Jones, P. & Keating, M. (2002): ''Scottish Independence: A Practical Guide'', Edinburgh University Press, * Taylor, Brian (1999): ''The Scottish Parliament'', Polygon, Edinburgh, * Taylor, Brian (2002): ''The Scottish Parliament: The Road to Devolution'', Edinburgh University Press, * Young, John R. (1996): ''The Scottish Parliament, 1639–1661: A Political and Constitutional'', Edinburgh: John Donald Publishers


External links


Official website

Official website

Scottish Parliament TV
{{Coord, 55.9519, N, 3.1751, W, region:GB-EDH_type:landmark, display=title Scottish Parliament, Government of Scotland, Parliament Parliaments by country, Scotland Unicameral legislatures, Scotland 1999 establishments in Scotland Scottish devolution