|Act of Parliament|
|Long title||An Act to provide for the establishment of a Scottish Parliament and Administration and other changes in the government of Scotland; to provide for changes in the constitution and functions of certain public authorities; to provide for the variation of the basic rate of income tax in relation to income of Scottish taxpayers in accordance with a resolution of the Scottish Parliament; to amend the law about parliamentary constituencies in Scotland; and for connected purposes.|
|Citation||1998 c. 46|
|Introduced by||Donald Dewar, Secretary of State for Scotland|
|Territorial extent||United Kingdom|
except section 25 (witnesses and documents:offences) which extends only to Scotland
|Royal assent||19 November 1998|
|Commencement||Various dates from 19 November 1998 to 1 April 2000.|
|Amends||United Nations Act 1946|
|Relates to||Referendums (Scotland & Wales) Act 1997|
|Text of statute as originally enacted|
|Revised text of statute as amended|
|Constitutional documents and events relevant to the status of the United Kingdom and its countries|
|This article is part of a series within UK politics on the|
|Politics of Scotland|
|Category · Scotland portal|
The Scotland Act 1998(c. 46) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which legislated for the establishment of the devolved Scottish Parliament with tax varying powers and the Scottish Government (then Scottish Executive). It was one of the most significant constitutional pieces of legislation to be passed by the UK Parliament between the passing of the European Communities Act in 1972 and the European Union (Withdrawal) Act in 2018 and is the most significant piece of legislation to affect Scotland since the Acts of Union in 1707 which ratified the Treaty of Union and led to the disbandment of the Parliament of Scotland.
The Act was introduced by the Labour government in 1998 to give effect to the Scottish devolution referendum in 1997 which showed that Scotland was in favour of both of the set questions, firstly for the creation of a parliament for Scotland and secondly, that this parliament should have tax varying powers.The Act creates the Scottish Parliament, sets out how Members of the Scottish Parliament are to be elected, makes some provision about the internal operation of the Parliament (although many issues are left for the Parliament itself to regulate) and sets out the process for the Parliament to consider and pass Bills which become Acts of the Scottish Parliament once they receive royal assent. The Act specifically declares the continued power of the UK Parliament to legislate in respect of Scotland; thereby upholding the concept of Westminster's absolute Parliamentary sovereignty.
The Act also provides for the creation of a 'Scottish Executive'though one of the early actions of the SNP administration that won power in the 2007 elections was to rebrand the Scottish Executive, as the group of Ministers and their civil servants had been known, as the Scottish Government. Despite the re-branding, the 'Scottish Executive' still uses the original description for a number of purposes (s.44 of the Scotland Act defines the nature of the body but does not use the words "shall be known as" with regard to a name as is the case with various other bodies whose names are thus fixed by statute). It consists of a First Minister and other Ministers appointed by the Queen with the approval of the Parliament, including the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General for Scotland.
The Act sets out the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament. Rather than listing the matters over which the Scottish Parliament does control (devolved powers), it specifies the matters over which it does not (reserved matters).It further designates a list of statutes which are not amenable to amendment or repeal by the Parliament which includes the Human Rights Act 1998 and many provisions of the Scotland Act itself. Even when acting within its legislative competence, the Act further constrains the powers of the Parliament by inhibiting it from acting in a manner incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights or European Community law. The same constraints apply to acts of the Scottish Executive.
The Act grants the Secretary of State for Scotland power to direct the Scottish Government not to take any action which he has reasonable grounds to believe "would be incompatible with any international obligations" or to act where he believes such action "is required for the purpose of giving effect to any such obligations".
The Act also sets up mechanisms to resolve disputes over questions about legislative competence of the Parliament and powers of the Executive. The ultimate appeal in such matters lies to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom (prior to 1 October 2009, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council). — even if legislatively competent — from receiving royal assent if it believes the law would affect matters of reserved law; this provision has been only used once, to veto the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill in 2023.In exceptional circumstances, the Westminster government can prohibit an Act of the Scottish Parliament
The Act also allows the powers of the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Executive to be adjusted over time by agreement between both Parliaments by means of an Order in Council.
The Act was passed on 17 November 1998,and received royal assent two days later on 19 November. The first elections were held in May 1999 and the Scottish Parliament and Executive assumed their full powers on 1 July 1999.
The Act was amended by the Scottish Parliament (Constituencies) Act 2004 to end the link between the number of MPs at Westminster and the number of constituency MSPs. It was amended again in 2016 as a reaction to the 2014 Scottish Independence vote.
The Wales Act 2014 made amendments to Part 4A of the Scotland Act around the definition of a Scottish taxpayer, to ensure that an individual could not be a taxpayer in both Scotland and Wales in the same year.
The Act has been amended by:
The legislatures of the United Kingdom are derived from a number of different sources. The parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body for the United Kingdom and the British overseas territories with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each having their own devolved legislatures. Each of the three major jurisdictions of the United Kingdom has its own laws and legal system.
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 additional member system: 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 West Lothian question, also known as the English question, is a political issue in the United Kingdom. It concerns the question of whether MPs from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales who sit in the House of Commons should be able to vote on matters that affect only England, while MPs from England are unable to vote on matters that have been devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Scottish Parliament and the Senedd. The term West Lothian question was coined by Enoch Powell MP in 1977 after Tam Dalyell, the Labour MP for the Scottish constituency of West Lothian, raised the matter repeatedly in House of Commons debates on devolution.
The Senedd, officially known as the Welsh Parliament in English and Senedd Cymru in Welsh, is the devolved, unicameral legislature of Wales. A democratically elected body, it makes laws for Wales, agrees certain taxes and scrutinises the Welsh Government. It is a bilingual institution, with both Welsh and English being the official languages of its business. From its creation in May 1999 until May 2020, the Senedd was known as the National Assembly for Wales.
A legislative consent motion is a motion passed by either the Scottish Parliament, Senedd, or Northern Ireland Assembly, in which it consents that the Parliament of the United Kingdom may pass legislation on a devolved issue over which the devolved government has regular legislative authority.
The politics of Scotland operate within the constitution of the United Kingdom, of which Scotland is a home nation. Scotland is a democracy, being represented in both the Scottish Parliament and the Parliament of the United Kingdom since the Scotland Act 1998. Most executive power is exercised by the Scottish Government, led by the First Minister of Scotland, the head of government in a multi-party system. The judiciary of Scotland, dealing with Scots law, is independent of the legislature and the executive. Scots law is primarily determined by the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Government shares some executive powers with the Government of the United Kingdom's Scotland Office, a British government department led by the Secretary of State for Scotland.
The Scottish Assembly was a proposed legislature for Scotland that would have devolved a set list of powers from the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Labour Government led the Scotland Act 1978 through Westminster which provided for the establishment of the Scottish Assembly.
Referendums in the United Kingdom are occasionally held at a national, regional or local level. Historically, national referendums are rare due to the long-standing principle of parliamentary sovereignty. There is no constitutional requirement to hold a national referendum for any purpose or on any issue; the UK Parliament is free to legislate through an Act of Parliament for a national plebiscite to be held on any question at any time, but these cannot be constitutionally binding on either the Government or Parliament, although they usually have a persuasive political effect.
A post-legislative referendum was held in Scotland in 1979 to decide whether there was a sufficient support for a Scottish Assembly proposed in the Scotland Act 1978 among the Scottish electorate. This was an act to create a devolved deliberative assembly for Scotland. A majority (51.6%) of voters supported the proposal, but an amendment to the Act stipulated that it would be repealed if less than 40% of the total electorate voted in favour. As there was a turnout of 64% the "Yes" vote represented only 32.9% of the registered electorate, and the act was subsequently repealed.
The Scotland Act 1978 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom intended to establish a Scottish Assembly as a devolved legislature for Scotland. At a referendum held in the following year, the Act failed to gain the necessary level of approval required by an amendment, and was never put into effect.
In the United Kingdom, devolved matters are the areas of public policy where the Parliament of the United Kingdom has devolved its legislative power to the national assemblies of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, while reserved matters and excepted matters are the areas where the Parliament retains exclusive power to legislate.
The Government of Wales Act 2006 is a Welsh devolution Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that reformed the then-National Assembly for Wales and allows further powers to be granted to it more easily. The Act creates a system of government with a separate executive drawn from and accountable to the legislature.
The Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which received the royal assent on 18 July 1973. The Act abolished the suspended Parliament of Northern Ireland and the post of Governor and made provision for a devolved administration consisting of an Executive chosen by the new Northern Ireland Assembly devised under the Sunningdale Agreement; the Assembly had already been created by the Northern Ireland Assembly Act 1973, passed two months earlier.
The Royal Commission on the Constitution, also referred to as the Kilbrandon Commission or Kilbrandon Report, was a long-running royal commission set up by Harold Wilson's Labour government to examine the structures of the constitution of the United Kingdom and the British Islands and the government of its constituent countries, and to consider whether any changes should be made to those structures. It was started under Lord Crowther on 15 April 1969, Lord Kilbrandon took over in 1972, and it finally reported on 31 October 1973.
Welsh law is an autonomous part of the English law system composed of legislation made by the Senedd. Wales is part of the legal jurisdiction of England and Wales, one of the three legal jurisdictions of the United Kingdom. However, due to devolution, the law in Wales is increasingly distinct from the law in England, since the Senedd, the devolved parliament of Wales, can legislate on non-reserved matters.
In Wales, a Legislative Competence Order was a piece of constitutional legislation in the form of an Order in Council. It transferred legislative authority from the Parliament of the United Kingdom to the National Assembly for Wales. The LCO had to be approved by the Assembly, the Secretary of State for Wales, both Houses of Parliament, and then the Queen in Council.
The Constitution of Australia is a constitutional document that is supreme law in Australia. It establishes Australia as a federation under a constitutional monarchy and outlines the structure and powers of the Australian government's three constituent parts, the executive, legislature, and judiciary.
Devolution is the process in which the central British parliament grants administrative powers to the devolved Scottish Parliament. Prior to the advent of devolution, some had argued for a Scottish Parliament within the United Kingdom – while others have since advocated for complete independence. The people of Scotland first got the opportunity to vote in a referendum on proposals for devolution in 1979 and, although a majority of those voting voted 'Yes', the referendum legislation also required 40% of the electorate to vote 'Yes' for the plans to be enacted and this was not achieved. A second referendum opportunity in 1997, this time on a strong proposal, resulted in an overwhelming 'Yes' victory, leading to the Scotland Act 1998 being passed and the Scottish Parliament being established in 1999.
In the United Kingdom, devolution is the Parliament of the United Kingdom's statutory granting of a greater level of self-government to the Scottish Parliament, the Senedd, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the London Assembly and to their associated executive bodies the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government, the Northern Ireland Executive and in England, the Greater London Authority and combined authorities.
An Act of the Scottish Parliament is primary legislation made by the Scottish Parliament. The power to create Acts was conferred to the Parliament by section 28 of the Scotland Act 1998 following the successful 1997 referendum on devolution.