The Scottish Parliament
The Scottish Parliament
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The Scottish Parliament

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The Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Parliament

Politics and Administration

Description

The Scottish Parliament is the devolved, unicameral legislature of Scotland. Located in the Holyrood area of the capital city, Edinburgh, it is frequently referred to by the metonym Holyrood. The Parliament is a democratically elected body comprising 129 members known as Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs), elected for five-year terms under the regionalised form of additional member system (MMP): 73 MSPs represent individual geographical constituencies elected by the plurality (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 to the Parliament was held on 6 May 2021, with the Scottish National Party winning a plurality.

The original Parliament of Scotland was the national legislature of the independent Kingdom of Scotland and existed from the early 13th century until the Kingdom of Scotland merged with the Kingdom of England under the Acts of Union 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. As a consequence, the Parliament of Scotland ceased to exist, while the Parliament of England, which sat at Westminster, was subsumed into the Parliament of Great Britain. In practice, all of the traditions, procedures, and standing orders of the English parliament were retained, with the addition of Scottish members in both the Commons and Lords.

Following a referendum in 1997, in which the Scottish electorate voted for devolution, the powers of the devolved legislature were specified by the Scotland Act 1998. The Act delineates the legislative competence of the Parliament – the areas in which it can make laws – by explicitly specifying powers that are "reserved" to the Parliament of the United Kingdom. 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 and Scotland Act 2016 expanded the Parliament's powers, especially over taxation and welfare. The United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 seeks to restrict the exercise of devolved competences both legally and practically. Its primary purpose is to constrain the capacity of the devolved institutions to use their regulatory autonomy 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 by Westminster.

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Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for the Central Scotland region
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