Scotland Travel Guide
Scotland Travel Destination
St Andrews Attractions
Inner Hebrides Attractions
Aviemore Area Attractions
Scotland Directory & Scotland Travel Information
Scotland Early History
Scotland Roman Influence
Scotland Medieval Period
Scotland Modern History
Scotland Government & Politics
Scotland Administrative Subdivisions
Scotland Within The UK
Scotland Law & Criminal Justice
Scotland Geography & Natural History
Scotland Geology & Geomorphology
Scotland Flora & Fauna
Scotland Economy & Infrastructure
Demography of Scotland
Education in Education
Religion in Scotland
Healthcare in Scotland
Culture of Scotland
Sports in Scotland
Scotland National Symbols
Map of Scotland
Scotland Vacation Trips
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Scotland Government and Politics
Scotland's head of state is the monarch of the United Kingdom, currently Queen Elizabeth II (since 1952). The title Elizabeth II caused controversy around the time of the queen's coronation, as there had never been an Elizabeth I in Scotland. A legal case, MacCormick v. Lord Advocate (1953 SC 396), was taken to contest the right of the Queen to title herself Elizabeth II within Scotland, arguing that to do so would be a breach of Article 1 of the Treaty of Union. The case was lost and it was decided that future British monarchs would be numbered according to either their English or Scottish predecessors, whichever number is higher.
Scotland has limited self-government within the United Kingdom as well as representation in the UK Parliament. Executive and legislative powers have been devolved to, respectively, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood in Edinburgh. The United Kingdom Parliament retains power over a set list of areas explicitly specified in the Scotland Act 1998 as reserved matters, including, for example, levels of UK taxes, social security, defence, international relations and broadcasting, with all other matters being devolved.
The Scottish Parliament has legislative authority for all other areas relating to Scotland, as well as limited power to vary income tax, a power it has yet to exercise. The Scottish Parliament can give legislative consent over devolved matters back to Westminster by passing a Legislative Consent Motion if United Kingdom-wide legislation is considered to be more appropriate for a certain issue. The programmes of legislation enacted by the Scottish Parliament have seen a divergence in the provision of public services compared to the rest of the United Kingdom. For instance, the costs of a university education, and care services for the elderly are free at point of use in Scotland, while fees are paid in the rest of the UK. Scotland was the first country in the UK to ban smoking in enclosed public places.
The Scottish Parliament is a unicameral legislature comprising 129 Members, 73 of whom represent individual constituencies and are elected on a first past the post system; 56 are elected in eight different electoral regions by the additional member system, serving for a four year period. The Queen appoints one Member of the Scottish Parliament, (MSP), on the nomination of the Parliament, to be First Minister. Other Ministers are also appointed by the Queen on the nomination of the Parliament and together with the First Minister they make up the Scottish Government, the executive arm of government.
In the 2007 election, the Scottish National Party (SNP), which campaigns for Scottish independence, won the largest number of seats of any single party and the leader of the SNP, Alex Salmond, was elected First Minister on 16 May 2007 as head of a minority government. The Labour Party became the largest opposition party, with the Conservative Party, the Liberal Democrats, and the Green Party are also represented in the Parliament. Margo MacDonald is the only independent MSP sitting in Parliament.
Scotland is represented in the British House of Commons by 59 MPs elected from territory-based Scottish constituencies. The Scotland Office represents the UK government in Scotland on reserved matters and represents Scottish interests within the UK government. The Scotland office is led by the Secretary of State for Scotland, who sits in the Cabinet of the United Kingdom, the current incumbent being Jim Murphy.
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