One debate surrounding boundary control is that by having fewer boundaries it makes it less expensive for parliament.
The rules require that there should be a similar number of voters at each constituency and the constituency boundaries should take account of local authority boundaries.
The population in parts of Scotland changes so often that local government boundaries have been changed to reflect these boundaries.
Section 1 (schedule 1) Scotland Act 1998
7. What is the name of the organisation which makes recommendations to Ministers about changes in constituency boundaries? Identify the Act which established the organisation and the relevant sections. (2)
The name of the organisation is Boundary Commissions for Scotland.
Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 – Section 2 and 3
8. What is the “West Lothian Question”? How did the Scotland Act 1998 attempt to “solve” the West Lothian Question? What subsequently happened to this “solution” as far as MSPs/MPs are concerned? Identify the relevant Act. (4)
A man called Tam Dalyell, a former MP for West Lothian in Scotland. He raised a question in 1977 about participations of MSP’s in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the UK Parliament.
Attempted to solve the question by legally restoring the Scottish Parliament the following year. This affected the number of MP’s representing constituencies in Scotland. Also by reducing many of the MSP’s seats in the House of Commons.
The Scotland Act 1998-Section 27(7)
9. What other “solutions” to the West Lothian Question are there? (5)
Fewer Scottish MP’s in Westminster
Not only would Scottish MP’s have a condensed voice on non-devolved issues such as defence and national security they would also have a compressed expression on English devolved laws.
English Votes for English Laws
Non-English MP’s will have votes in particular matters although not others.
An English Parliament
Independent English Parliament for English problems. The English and UK Governments would respond to unattached Parliaments.
Stop enquiring the question. Leaving it unaided causes fewer problems than tackling it.
Suggested Reading: Bradley & Ewing, ch.9; McFadden & Lazarowicz, ch.3; McFadzean, chs 6-9.
Lawmaking and methods of operation
10. Compare and contrast the processes by which an Act of Parliament promoted by the executive is made in the UK and Scottish Parliaments. (8)
Scottish legislation only has four stages compared to the UK Parliament that has seven stages although they are seven very lengthy stages and it is quite a process and the same could be said for the Scottish Parliament. The UK Parliament must go through the following stages and process in The House of Commons and The House of Lords in order for the bill to become law. There is the first reading, which is when the Bill arrives, and then there is the second reading, which is the main debate on the purpose of the bill, and here key areas of the bill are discussed. Which then moves onto the committee stage, which is a thorough line-by-line scrutiny of the text with alterations. Votes may take place to choose whether to make the changes. Furthermore, the report stage is after the committee stage where additional inspection of the text takes place. More alterations are debated and further votes take place to agree whether to make the changes. Additionally, the third reading takes place after this stage, which is known as the ‘tidying stage’, and final adjustments are made. The House of Lords and The House of Commons both consider each other’s amendments. The final stage is the Royal Assent this is where both houses decide the final content of the bill. Which it then moves on to royal assent waiting to be approved by the Queen and becomes law or ‘Act of Parliament.’
This can be compared to Scottish Parliament, which in Stage one the bill is sent to Parliamentary committee for thought and the committee writes a report. The Parliament may refer back to the committee for a further report. The whole parliament contemplates whether the bill should advance. If Parliament agree then the bill will advance if the Parliament don’t agree then the bill will fail. This can be compared to the UK Parliament which rather than having the committee take a look at the bill straight away it goes to The House of Commons and The House of Lords to be evaluated and after that the bill is then sent to a parliamentary committee to be examined. In stage two of the Scottish Parliament. The bill goes through a more thorough ‘line-by-line’ inspection, which is very similar to the UK Parliament. The whole Parliament or the fitting committee may also make adjustments to the bill at this time. This can be contrasted with the UK Parliament where they are only on their second reading. However, due to their longer stages they are on their report stage when The Scottish Parliament are on their second stage. In the third stage in the Scottish Parliament, the same process occurs as it does in stage two only alterations that were referred back for thought at stage two are debated now. If the Parliament agrees the bill is passed if the Parliament does not agree the bill fails. This can be contrasted with the UK Parliament, which in the third reading it is where all the last touches, adjustments, and votes take place. In the Scottish parliament, there is a four-week period where the advocate general may challenge the bill where as in the UK Parliament this is not the case ad it moves straight onto royal assent. Finally, after that four-week period the Scottish parliament bill moves onto royal assent. However, something that is very similar in both Parliaments is the fact both if the bill is not accepted by government it is failed although if passed it moves onto royal assent. Although, the UK Parliament also has the option that if the bill is rejected the person that suggested it can either withdraw the bill or call a division which is a vote.
11. What matters must be taken into account to ensure that a proposed piece of legislation is within the competence of the Scottish Parliament? (4)
Any law that is complete and deprived of legislative competence is ultimately void. The bill must be passed onto royal assent when the Government approves it. An Act of Parliament is not law so far as any establishment of the act is unknown to the legislative competence of the parliament. ‘Reserved Matters’ is something that the Scottish Parliament is not able to legislate on. The UK Parliament is simply able to legislate with respects to Scotland.
12. What is the difference in legal status between an Act of the UK Parliament and an Act of the Scottish Parliament? (3)
As the UK Parliament has complete power over the whole Nation including Scotland they have the final call over all decisions made including in Scottish Parliament.
13. How does an MSP who is not a member of the executive promote a piece of legislation? Compare and contrast this with the opportunities available to an MP. Identify two pieces of such legislation, one promoted by an MP and one by an MSP. (8)
An MSP can put forward a piece of legislation using the member’s bill. MSP’s who are not members of the committee are allowed to be present at and may speak at the meeting with the convener’s agreement, on the other hand, they cannot vote.
MP’s can raise matters affecting their constituencies attending debates and voting on new laws. Whereas MSP’s can lodge a motion for a subject to gather support from MSP’s to have the topic debated in Parliament.
Most MP’s are also members of committees, which look at topics in detail from government policies and new laws, to widespread subjects like human rights. Which contrasts, with MSP’s who are only allowed to attend committee’s and cannot vote.
MP’s also attend functions, visit schools and businesses and generally try to meet as many people as possible. This gives MP’s further insight and context into issues they may discuss when they return to Westminster. This is quite similar to an MSP’s where they also attend local meetings and discuss important matters with groups of constituents.
In some cases, MP’s examine bills in draft form known as pre legislative scrutiny. Whereas MSP’s have the power to introduce bills and propose alterations to bills as well.
14. What role does the Secretary of State for Scotland have in the law-making process of the Scottish Parliament? Identify the Act and relevant section. (2)
Sectary of State is accountable for all reserved matters
The Scotland Act 1998
15. The Scottish Parliament is said to operate in a more modern way than the UK Parliament. Discuss, giving examples, whether this is the case. (5)
Contrasting Westminster, the Scottish Parliament, works in normal business hours and has assumed a normal programme of activity. Where as in Westminster MP’s in the House of Commons have to vote after 10pm, which makes for much longer days for MP’s in Westminster.
Parliament keenly encourages the public to impact its work and legislation through evidence taking and the public-petition system.
The system of Parliamentary questions and gestures allows MSP’s to question and involve the Scottish government in debate.
Basic English is used in parliamentary proceedings and publications; Parliament’s website is conveyed in both English and Gaelic. Much like there isn’t people wearing the traditional wigs in court unlike Westminster.
Parliamentary business is classically available to the public by attendance, live TV feed, or through downloadable podcasts. Watch Parliament TV.
16. Find out the parliamentary committees on which your MP and ONE of your MSPs sit. What functions do the respective committees perform? What proposals are currently being made concerning the reform of Holyrood’s committee system? (4)
Alison Thewlis sits on the Procedure committee and has been sitting on it since November 2017. She also sits on the Housing, communities and local Governments Committee. She was on that committee since July 2015-May2017. The procedure committee reflects, and makes proposals on the practices and actions of The House of Commons. The housing communities and local housing committee inspects the spending, administration, and rule of the ministry of housing. James Kelly is a member of the Finance and Constitution Committee. The role of this committee is to scrutinise the Scottish governments taxation, borrowing and spending plans. Tax revenue prediction and receipts. Freshly devolved financial powers. Tricia Marwick deems that cultural and fundamental alteration is needed to strengthen Holy rood’s committee system.