Edinburgh Holyrood Park

Scottish Parliament

Scotland’s Parliament plays an important role in forming laws across Scotland. Hosted in Edinburgh, Scotland’s Government is a powerful force north of the border and has many powers at its disposal. This lets Scots resolves issues that affect them, rather than relying on Westminster to try and handle Scottish issues.

How old is the Scottish Parliament?

In some ways, Scotland’s Parliament is very new. Until 1999 there was no separate government in Scotland; all power resided in Westminster. During the 1960’s and 70’s a concerted campaign led to growing support of Scottish independence, and in 1997 a referendum secured support for devolution of powers to a Scottish Parliament. However, this was by no means the first parliament in Scotland. As far back as the 13th Century, when Scotland was an independent nation, it boasted a full parliament of its own. This was merged with the English Parliament in 1707, when the two countries joined to form Great Britain.

Where is Scotland’s Parliament?

The parliament is situated in Holyrood, an ancient part of Edinburgh. Holyrood Palace has been the seat of Scottish power for centuries, and today’s Scottish Parliament is located only a stone’s throw from the palace itself. Unlike the UK Parliament, Scotland’s system is “unicameral”. This means there is only one “house” where elected Members of Parliament (MPs) meet. In addition, rather than two sets of opposing benches, MPs are seated in one large semicircle, in an attempt to introduce a less adversarial style of politics.

How does the Scottish Parliament work?

Elected MPs vote on various issues and are able to pass laws and control taxes in Scotland. The Scottish Government is formed by the party with the largest number of MPs and is headed by the First Minister. In theory, the First Minister and their cabinet must be approved by a vote of all Scottish MPs. However, in practice, the First Minister is usually able to appoint their choice of cabinet members.

What does the Scottish Parliament do?

Scotland’s Parliament is the seat of devolved power. This means that it doesn’t have exclusive powers over Scotland; many powers are “reserved” by the national government in Westminster. However, Scotland’s Parliament has the power to pass laws on “devolved” matters, which include law & order, education, arts, agriculture, local government and the environment. This allows Scots to exercise greater control over the issues that affect them, rather than needing to work with a parliament at the other end of the country.

The role of Scottish Parliament

In a fast-moving world like today’s it’s essential that governments can address problems quickly. By devolving power to a more local level, it’s possible for countries to provide better, more suitable laws for their citizens. Scotland’s Parliament is an important part of this arrangement.