The Scotland Act 1998 created the Scottish Parliament. As with the UK Parliament, all bills(new laws in the making) passed by the Scottish Parliament have to receive the Royal Assent before they can become law.
The chamber is the focal point for the Scottish Parliament's business. The procedures of the Scottish Parliament are overseen by the Presiding Officer. It is the Presiding Officer’s responsibility to ensure that the rules of the parliament are followed and that MSPs conduct themselves appropriately.
The Scottish Parliament works in a similar way to most other parliaments around the world. Within the parliament, MSPs can hold debates and make new laws in areas for which the Scottish Parliament has responsibility.
MSPs also work in committees where the work of the Scottish Government is scrutinised (checked-up on). Importantly, the parliament and the MSPs within it, have responsibility for spending the parliament’s budget.
Committees play a central role in the work of the parliament. Parliamentary business usually takes place on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons and all debates, and other proceedings are shown live on television.
For the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, Edinburgh, MSPs are elected every four or five years (this varies to avoid any clash with Westminster elections). The electoral system used to choose MSPs is known as the Additional Members System (AMS).
For this election, Scotland is divided into 73 constituencies. Each constituency elects one MSP but there are also an additional 56 regional or list MSPs making 129 MSPs in total.
The last election to the Scottish Parliament was in 2016. The outcome of this election was the SNP were the largest party and formed a minority government. The next election will be in 2021 to avoid a clash with the UK election in 2020.
The powers of the Scottish Parliament have been devolved from the UK Parliament. These were listed in the Scotland Act (1998). The Scottish Government is given an annual budget of around £30 billion and has the power to make laws on a range of ‘devolved’ issues.
However, the UK Parliament still takes decisions for Scotland in some areas. Examples of the powers of the Scottish and UK Parliaments include:
In recent years there has been an expansion of the Scottish Parliament's power in response to the independence referendum. The Scottish Parliament has been given powers to set tax rates, to borrow up to £5 billion and greater power over welfare and benefits.