Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Parliament (Scottish Gaelic: Pàrlamaid na h-Alba [ˈpʰaːrˠl̪ˠəmɪtʲ nə ˈhal̪ˠapə]; Scots: Scots Pairlament)[2][3][4] 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.[5] The Parliament is a democratically elected body comprising 129 members known as Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs), elected for five-year terms[6] under the additional member system: 73 MSPs represent individual geographical constituencies elected by the plurality (first-past-the-post) system, while a further 56 are returned from eight additional member regions, each electing seven MSPs.[7] The most recent general election to the Parliament was held on 6 May 2021, with the Scottish National Party winning a plurality.

Scottish Parliament

Pàrlamaid na h-Alba
Scots Pairlament
6th Scottish Parliament
Founded12 May 1999
Preceded byUK Parliament (pre-devolution)
Alison Johnstone
since 13 May 2021
Nicola Sturgeon, SNP
since 20 November 2014
George Adam, SNP
since 20 May 2021
Political groups
Government (71)

Opposition (57)

  Conservative (31)
  Labour (22)

Other (1)

  • Audit
  • Equal Opportunities
  • Europe and External Relations
  • Finance
  • Procedures
  • Public Petitions
  • Standards and Public Appointments
  • Subordinate Legislation
  • Economy, Energy and Tourism
  • Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture
  • Health and Sport
  • Justice
  • Local Government and Communities
  • Rural Affairs and Environment
  • Scottish Parliamentary Pensions Scheme
  • Transport, Infrastructure,
  • Committee on The Scottish Government's Handling of Harassment Complaints against Former Ministers,
  • and Climate Change
Additional member system
Last election
6 May 2021
Next election
On or before 7 May 2026
Meeting place
Scottish Parliament Building
Edinburgh, Scotland

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.[8] As a consequence, both the Parliament of Scotland and the Parliament of England ceased to exist, and the Parliament of Great Britain, which sat at Westminster in London,[8] was formed.

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.[9] 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.[10] The first meeting of the new Parliament took place on 12 May 1999.[11]

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.[12][13][14] It aims to avoid regulatory divergence by the devolved nations following 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.[18] 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.[19]