Scottish Parliament

devolved parliament of Scotland

The Scottish Parliament (Scottish Gaelic: Pàrlamaid na h-Alba; Scots: Scottish Pairlament[1][2][3][4]) is the devolved national legislature of Scotland. It is in the capital city, Edinburgh. The Parliament is sometimes called "Holyrood" because it is located next to Holyrood Palace.[5]

The Scottish Parliament


Scottish Parliament building

The original Parliament of Scotland (or "Estates of Scotland") was the national legislature of the independent Kingdom of Scotland. It existed from the early 13th century until 1707. This was when the Kingdom of Scotland merged with the Kingdom of England under the Acts of Union 1707 to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain.[6][7]

Because of this, the Parliament of Scotland merged with the Parliament of England to form the Parliament of Great Britain, which sat at Westminster in London.[7] This legislature merged with the Irish Parliament from 1801 to make the current Parliament of the United Kingdom.

In 1997 there was a referendum where the Scottish people voted for Scotland to have a Parliament again. The current Parliament was established by the Scotland Act 1998. The first meeting was on 12 May 1999.[8]



The Parliament is a devolved assembly, which means that some powers have been kept by the UK Parliament. The issues which the Scottish Parliament can make laws about are called devolved matters. The issues which the UK Parliament must make laws about are called reserved matters. Some examples of devolved matters are health and social services, education and housing. Examples of reserved matters are foreign policy, immigration and the constitution of the Scottish Parliament.[9]



There are 129 members known as Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) who are democratically elected. Members are elected for five-year terms. Most of the MSPs belong to political parties. Independent MSPs do not belong to a political party.

The number of MSPs from each party are:[10]

The number of elected MSPs in the parties[11]
Party Leader Number of MSPs
Scottish National Party Humza Yousaf 64
Scottish Conservative Party Douglas Ross 31
Scottish Labour Party Anas Sarwar 22
Scottish Green Party Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater 7
Scottish Liberal Democrats Willie Rennie 4
Not part of a party (independents) None 1 (Presiding Officer)

Presiding Officer


The Presiding Officer is the Speaker of the Scottish Parliament and chairs the meetings. The Presiding Officer is an MSP elected to the role and cannot be bias towards one party.

List of Presiding Officers

  • David Steel (1999–2003)
  • George Reid (2003–2007)
  • Alex Fergusson (2007–2011)
  • Tricia Marwick (2011–2016)
  • Ken Macintosh (2016–2021)
  • Alison Johnstone (2021–present)
  1. "Scottish Parliament Web Site". Scottish Parliament. Retrieved 2007-02-10.
  2. ""Makkin Yer Voice Heard in the Scottish Pairlament"". Scottish Parliament. Retrieved 2007-02-10.
  3. "SPCB Leid Policy" (PDF). Scottish Parliament. Retrieved 2007-02-10.
  4. The Scots for Scottish is in fact Scots.
  5. "Scottish Parliament Word Bank". Scottish Parliament. Retrieved 2006-11-14.
  6. Murdoch, Alexander (2007). "England, Scotland, and the Acts of Union (1707)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/96282. ISBN 978-0-19-861412-8. Retrieved 2021-06-17. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  7. 7.0 7.1 "The First Scottish Parliament: the Middle Ages – 1707". Scottish Parliament. Retrieved 2006-10-14.
  8. "The Scottish Parliament Past and Present" (PDF). Scottish Parliament. p. 18. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  9. "Devolved and reserved matters explained". Scottish Parliament. Archived from the original on 17 July 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  10. "Scottish Parliament Fact sheet State of the Parties: Session 4" (PDF). Scottish Parliament. 24 September 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  11. "Current party balance".


  • Balfour, A & McCrone, G (2005): "Creating a Scottish Parliament", StudioLR, ISBN 0-9550016-0-9
  • Burrows, N (1999): "Unfinished Business - The Scotland Act 1998", Modern Law Review, Vol. 62, No. 2 (March 1999), pp. 241–260
  • Centre for Scottish Public Policy (1999): "A Guide to the Scottish Parliament: The Shape of Things to Come", The Stationery Office Books", ISBN 0-11-497231-1
  • Dardanelli, P (2005): "Between Two Unions: Europeanisation and Scottish Devolution", Manchester University Press, ISBN 0-7190-7080-5
  • Kingdom, J (1999): "Government and Politics in Britain, An Introduction", Polity, ISBN 0-7456-1720-4
  • MacLean, B (2005): "Getting It Together: Scottish Parliament", Luath Press Ltd, ISBN 1-905222-02-5
  • McFadden, J & Lazarowicz, M (2003): "The Scottish Parliament: An Introduction", LexisNexis UK, ISBN 0-406-96957-4
  • Murkens, E; Jones, P & Keating, M (2002): "Scottish Independence: A Practical Guide", Edinburgh University Press, ISBN 0748616993
  • Taylor, Brian (1999): "The Scottish Parliament", Polygon, Edinburgh, ISBN 1-902930-12-6
  • Taylor, Brian (2002): "The Scottish Parliament: The Road to Devolution", Edinburgh University Press, ISBN 0-7486-1759-0
  • Young, John R. (1996): "The Scottish Parliament, 1639–1661: A Political and Constitutional," Edinburgh: John Donald Publishers ISBN 0-85976-412-5

Other websites


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