Devolution in Scotland took place during 1999 as a referendum was carried out to test for popular support in 1997. There were elections in 1999 for Members of the Scottish Parliament to start their term in the year 2000.

Scotland actually had a fairly high level of autonomy. They had:

However, there was increased debate over devolution due to many factors (see Devolution). While the Conservatives were staunchly against devolution, New Labour had in its 1997 manifesto the promise of a referendum on devolution in Scotland and Wales and if there was a positive outcome they would act accordingly (though it is important to note that they didn't have to since referendums are not legally binding in the UK). The SNP also disliked devolution for the opposite reason than the Conservatives. They didn't think that it would lead to independence and that it was merely a ploy by New Labour to keep Scotland in the UK while appeasing the nationalists (which is was but it worked). When New Labour won a landslide victory in 1997 (many of their seats taken from the Conservatives in Scotland) they held a referendum in Scotland to decide on whether on not to introduce devolution. The SNP has now changed its view on devolution. It now sees it as a stepping stone towards independence.

There were two questions posed to the people. One was whether there should be a devolved Scottish Parliament and the second question was whethr this parliament should have tax varying powers or not. There was good turnout to this referendum at 60.1% which meant that the referendum was actually going to represent the views of the people (those that didn't vote cannot moan since they should of got up off their backsides and voted). The result was a 'Yes-Yes' result which resulted in a devolved Scottish Parliament with an executive with tax varying powers (though only within 3% range of the English tax rate).

The Parliament

The resultant Parliament has 129 MSPs elected by a version of AMS. It has primary legislative powers which means that it can make almost any law that it wishes (as opposed to the Welsh Assembly which only has secondary legislative powers which limit it to implementing laws passed by Westminster). However there are certain areas where the Scottish Parliament cannot pass laws:

On everything else though the Scots have total control.


A First Minister is the head of the executive. He is appointed by the Monarch on advice from the Speaker of the Scottish Assembly (he/she has to be a member of the Scottish Parliament). This First Minister then appoints the members of Cabinet.

In the English Cabinet there still exists the position of Secretary of State for Scotland though the position now has less power. It is supposed to allow better communication between the two tiers of government. The appointed person must be a Westminster MP, in the Cabinet and not be part of the Scottish Government.


Since 1978 Scotland has received a block (sum of money) from the English government. This block of money is worked out using the Barnett formula and has caused controversy. English tax payers are not too happy with paying for Scotland without obvious benefits for them.

Scotland supplements this money with money raised from council tax and the business rates.

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