Scotland Act 1998

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The Scotland Act 1998 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom at Westminster. It is the Act which established the devolved Scottish Parliament.

It was introduced by the Labour government after there was a majority of 'Yes-Yes' for the creation of a parliament for Scotland with tax varying powers in the Scotland referendum, 1997. 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 does not affect the power of the UK Parliament to legislate in respect of Scotland, recognising the concept of Parliamentary sovereignty.

The Act also provides for the creation of a Scottish Executive consisting of a First Minister and other Ministers appointed by the Queen with the approval of the Parliament. The Scottish Executive includes the Lord Advocate and Solicitor General for Scotland.

The Act sets out the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament, and has a schedule that lists the powers it doesn't have (called reserved matters) which remain the preserve of Westminster. The Act also sets up mechanisms to allow disputes to be resolved over the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament and the powers of the Scottish Executive, ultimately involving the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. It 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 requires Acts of the Scottish Parliament and actions of the Scottish Ministers to be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, and does so in a way which gives courts greater control than they have over UK Acts of Parliament as provided for by the Human Rights Act 1998.

The Act was passed on November 17, 1998, and received royal assent two days later on November 19. 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 MSPs elected on first past the post system.

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