the scottish parliament what has devolution ever done for us? 1
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The Scottish ParliamentWhat has devolution ever done for us?*
Devolution: The settled will of the Scottish people?
Health Education Local Government Law Social Work and Housing Economic Development and Transport The Environment Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing Sport and the Arts
The constitution Defence and national security Foreign policy Immigration UK fiscal and monetary policyEmployment legislation Social security Transport and safety regulation Others e.g. nuclear energy, broadcasting *
*Founding principle: AccessibilityOpportunity for Members Bills
Scottish parliament TV
Cabinet and Committee meetings around the country
Founding principle: Accountability*The Scottish parliament has powerful committees.
Ministers, including First Minister are held to account at First Ministers Question Time.
In 2008, Alex Salmond was quizzed over his involvement in the new Trump golf course.
The First Minister has to account for his actions every week.First Ministers Question Time
Founding principle: Equal opportunities?*Scottish Politics, like politics elsewhere, remains dominated by white males.
34.8% of the Scottish Parliament is female, which is a higher percentage than many other parliaments. The Scottish parliament only meets during school term time and has family friendly working hours.
There are no minority ethnic MSPs.Bashir Ahmad (SNP) who died in 2009 was the first ethnic minority MSP.
Founding principle: Sharing power*
Members of the public can try to change the law via online petitioning.
In 2010, pupils from Waid Academy, Fife presented two petitions to the Scottish Parliaments petitions committee; one of school age workers and another on free access for school age children to public swimming pools.
Multi party politics*The AMS means that it is very difficult for one party to have an overall majority, unlike Westminster.
MSPs must, therefore, have dialogue and compromise in decision making.
*But smaller parties dont always do so well..The AMS does not guarantee small parties success.
In 2007, the Greens were squeezed out by the rise of the SNP.
In 2007, the Scottish Socialists imploded as its leader, Tommy Sheridan, formed a breakaway party after his court appearance.
*The Scottish GovernmentThe Scottish Government is the civil service of the Scottish Parliament.
It supports the Scottish Cabinet.
The Scottish Government has offices across Scotland and in Brussels.
*Ban on smoking in enclosed public spacesIn 2006, the Scottish Parliament passed a ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces.
The rest of the UK has subsequently followed.Smoking ban Scotland
*No upfront tuition feesUnlike England, Scottish students at Scottish universities do not pay tuition fees.
In 2008, the SNP Scottish Government also abolished the Graduation Endowment Tax, saving students a further 2000.
*Free personal care for the elderlyAs we live longer, illnesses such as Dementia and Alzheimers have become more common.
In 2002, the then Scottish Executive introduced free personal care for all elderly people in Scotland.
Standing Up to Anti Social Behaviour*Scottish Governments have passed legislation to tackle ned culture.
The SNP Government intends to end supermarket alcohol promotions and restrict the marketing of alcohol.Minimum Pricing of Alcohol
Anti-Racism*One Scotland is the Scottish Government campaign designed to tackle racism.
It aims to raise awareness of racist attitudes, highlight its negative impact and recognise the valuable contributions that other cultures have made to our society and make Scotland no place for racism.
*Limits to Scottish influence: ImmigrationImmigration remains a power reserved to the UK Parliament.
There have been a number of high profile deportations from Scotland.
The Calman Commission proposes greater consultation between Westminster and Scottish authorities on immigration policy.The Glasgow Girls campaign
*Nuclear PowerScotlands two nuclear power stations are due to be modernised in the next few years.
Energy is a reserved power.
But, Planning is a reserved power and the SNP is against nuclear power.
Who will win this stand off?
Foreign Policy*Post devolution there have been Scottish troops sent to Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Scottish Parliament can discuss foreign policy but it has no decision making powers.
But, Justice is a devolved powers and decisions made by Scotlands Justice Secretary can have a major impact on UK foreign policy.
In August 2009, Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny Macaskill released convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds. He was diagnosed as having terminal cancer with an expected three months to live.
Lockerbie bomber freed
Revenue RaisingAt present, the Scottish Parliament can vary income tax levels by 3p in the . It has no powers over VAT.
No Scottish Government has ever used its income tax varying powers.
Some people are in favour of Fiscal Autonomy.
Fiscal Autonomy would mean that instead of Scotland receiving the block grant from the Westminster, as at present, the Scottish Parliament would receive all taxation levied in Scotland and would then make payment to the UK government to cover Scotland's share of the cost of providing UK services.
They feel that Scotland, particularly at a time of Westminster-led budget cuts, would be better off. Some economists and politicians disagree though, claiming Scotland would be worse off.John Swinney, Finance Secretary, in favour of Fiscal Autonomy
*Learning Intentions: To examine areas where the Scottish Parliament has made a difference to the lives of Scottish citizens.*The late Labour leader John Smith described devolution as the settled will of the Scottish people. He believed that the creation of a Scottish parliament would offer Scots the best of both worlds; control over the most immediate affairs, yet within the overall security of the UK.
This may yet be the case. Most voters in Scotland voted for pro-UK parties in the 2007 Scottish elections. But there are undoubtedly tensions. The emergence of the SNP as the largest party in Scottish local government shows that there is a mood for change. It is likely that the SNP government will test the limits of Scottish decision making.*The Scottish Parliament has set itself ambitious aims. Its Founding principles are:Accessibility
MSPs can organise members Bills on issues they feel strongly about. Green MSP Patrick Harvie successfully had his Offences (Aggravation By Prejudice) (Scotland) Bill passed in the Scottish Parliament. This changes the law regarding attacks on people motivated by prejudice.The Scottish Parliament has become a world leader in e-democracy. Parliamentary debates are webcast live on the parliaments state of the art Holyrood tv. Minutes of debates and committee meetings can be downloaded by the media and the public. Petitions to the Parliament can be submitted online via the Parliaments website. The Scottish Parliament welcomes visitors seven days a week. There is a creche facility for those wishing to take part in parliamentary business. The Scottish Parliaments Visitor Services team provides free tickets for committee meetings and parliamentary debates. The Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) provides an impartial research service, offering advice on issues such as freedom of information and data protection. In 2009, the Scottish Cabinet held five meetings outside Edinburgh over the Parliament's summer recess period, in Dundee, Melrose ,Stornoway, Aberdeen and Glasgow.
*AccountabilityParliamentary procedures, such as First Ministers Question Time and the powerful committees the engine room of the Parliament hold the Scottish Executive to account. First Minister Henry McLeish had to resign in 2001 after a scandal over office expenses. It is widely believed that the grilling by Conservative leader David McLetchie at First Ministers Question Time led to his resignation. Parliamentary procedures, such as First Ministers Question Time and the powerful committees hold the Scottish Executive to account. First Minister Henry McLeish had to resign in 2001 after a scandal over office expenses. It is widely believed that the grilling by Conservative leader David McLetchie at First Ministers Question Time led to his resignation. Ironically, David McLetchie himself was forced to resign as leader of the Scottish Conservatives in October 2005 when evidence of his alleged misuse of taxi expenses was unearthed by the media. This would not have been possible without the Scottish Parliaments Freedom of Information Act. First Minister Alex Salmond has had to justify his actions to parliament over the proposed Donald Trump golf course in Aberdeenshire.
The Scottish Parliament in its operation and its appointments should recognise the need to promote equal opportunities for all. To some extent has been a success.
Parliament is said to be family friendly with opening hours as per a normal business There is a crche. Recesses are timed with school holidays.
The Scottish Parliament has 45 female MSPs out of 129 (34.8%) (July 2010).The Labour party has the greatest gender balance, with 50% of their MSPs being female. In the Conservatives, leader Annabel Goldie heads five female Tory MSPs, (just over 31%). Perhaps most surprisingly the Liberal Democrats have only two female MSPs, (12.5%). In the SNP, out of forty seven MSPs only thirteen are women, under 28%.
There are no minority ethnic MSPs. Bashir Ahmad of the SNP, (who died in 2009) was the first ethnic minority MSP.
*Sharing of PowerThe adoption of a proportional Additional Member System was designed to enable a wider cross section of views to be held in the Parliament. Because of this, smaller parties such as the Greens and Scottish Socialists have been able to have MSPs elected. Likewise, in the past, the Scottish Senior Citizens Party have been successful in gaining representation. Because many issues are now devolved, decision making is now closer to the people, based in Edinburgh, rather than far away London. Scottish citizens can, therefore, exert pressure on decision makers by lobbying much easier and more effectively. Ordinary Scottish citizens can have an impact on policy. The Scottish Parliaments Public Petitions Committee considers any issues raised by members of the public brought to the Scottish Parliament in the form of a petition.In 2008, Kenny Shand raised a petition in the Scottish Parliament highlighting the problems faced by disabled drivers when able-bodied drivers leave their cars in their parking spaces. Now a new Act, the Disabled Persons' Parking Places (Scotland) Act 2009 has received Royal Assent and became law on October 1 2009.*The PR element of the AMS voting system has lead to smaller parties being represented. There are 129 MSP (Constituency 73, Regional List 56) This meets the Founding aim of power sharing.The SNP does well from the party list system, as do the Conservatives and, to a lesser extent the Scottish Greens.Both of the Greens MSPs have been elected from the second, party list vote. The Scottish Green Party has been particularly skilled at exploiting the AMS. The Green Party only put up candidates in the second, list election. The Greens know how the FPTP system works. It knows its voters are spread out and are not concentrated in specific constituencies. The Greens therefore know they have little chance of winning any constituency MSPs. In all likelihood, the party would lose a lot of money in lost deposits too. Arguably, the creation of the Scottish Parliament with its AMS, saved the Scottish Conservatives from political extinction. It is one of the great ironies that the Conservatives originally opposed both the Scottish Parliament, and its voting system! In 1999, all 18 of the Conservatives MSPs were from the second, List vote. In 2003, the Conservatives managed to have three MSPs elected from constituencies, but the other fifteen are from the second, List vote. .
*The AMS isnt always good for smaller parties. The Greens now have only two MSPs. The Scottish Socialists and Solidarity Scotland lost all their MSPs at the 2007 Scottish elections. The electoral system cant be blamed for this though. The SNP picked up the anti-Labour protest votes as voters sensed there was a chance of changing the Government. This affected the Greens. The SSP and Solidarityscotland. Well, they shot themselves in the foot. With round 2 to come*First Minister Alex Salmond in 2007 changed the name from Scottish Executive to Scottish Government. It cost an estimated 100,000 to change the name plates on Scottish Executive buildings and the branding on Government stationary. Opponents said the move was a waste of money. For Alex Salmond, 100,000 is a small price to pay for moving the national psyche that little bit more towards independence.
While MSPs are, in theory, the decision makers, some MSPs are more equal than others. The Scottish Government is the real power behind the Scottish Parliament. However, while the SNP form the Scottish Government, the SNP does not have an overall majority in the Scottish parliament. It will be difficult for the SNP to have its flagship policy of a referendum on independence (see national conversation slide) will be difficult. The abolition of the Council tax has been abandoned.
*On the day the smoking ban began (26 March 2006), the Sunday Herald reported that in Scotland, 35 people a day (13,000 a year) die from a smoking related illness The average smoker will lose 10 years of their life because of the effects of smoking If people choose to kill themselves you may say that is their right but Environmental tobacco smoke contains more than 4000 chemicals More than 17,000 children under the age of 5 are admitted to hospital every year because of passive smoking The Labour/Lib Dem Scottish Executive hoped that the ban on smoking in public places will cut down on the numbers of deaths caused by passive smoking. The SNP are strong supporters of the ban too.It is also responding to public pressure to ban smoking on the grounds of its unpleasantness, the smell and the inconvenience caused to non smokers by the smoking minority. The Scottish Executive hoped that the ban will lead to smokers quitting the habit altogether. If they cant smoke when drinking (when those who want to give up most often cave in) they may decide smoking outside in the Scottish weather is just too much hassle. In Ireland, around 7000 smokers gave up the habit when the smoking ban came in and sales of tobacco dropped by 13%. It is predicted that the smoking ban may save up to 600 lives every year. The Scottish Executive hoped the smoking ban would have a knock on effect on alcohol consumption. The new smoke free bars will have to offer different inducements to bring in the punters. The old spit and saw dust bars will struggle the most as their older, more male clientele may give up going to the pub altogether and smoke at home. The most successful bars will be those that can offer food and a more family friendly bar experience. Hence, the hope is that people will be less likely to binge and drink more sensibly. *Student FeesScottish students at Scottish universities do not pay their tuition fees until they graduate and earn a graduate level salary. There are also, unlike England, no top-up fees to be paid on popular courses. However, the row over tuition fees will not go away. Controversially, the Scottish Executive, in July 2005 imposed a 42% increase in fees on English students who come to Scottish universities, provoking claims of unfair discrimination. This decision has been made in an attempt to reduce the number of so-called fee refugees, English students who have headed to Scotland for their university education. Limits to the powers of the Scottish Parliament. The SNP Government announced abolished the graduate tax, which amounted to around 2000 per graduate.*Personal Care for the ElderlyIn 2002 the Scottish Executive took the decision to introduce free personal care for all elderly people in Scotland.This was a bold move and one which showed a "Scottish" rather than a British approach to social policy. There have though been concerns that local authorities do not have the funds to meet the commitment to free personal care.
*Anti Social Behaviour Scotland Act (2004)The 2003-2007 Scottish Executive made tackling ned culture and anti-social behaviour a priority. ASBOs can be imposed on offending people, restricting their movements. But, have ASBOs worked? Have they become a badge of honour? Has the war on neds been won?
The SNP Government has also got tough on excessive drinking behaviour.Changing Scotland's Relationship with Alcohol: A Framework for Action aims to:Introduce a minimum price for a unit of alcohol to stop strong drink being sold for 'pocket money prices' Establish a legal obligation on licensing boards to consider whether alcohol-related problems in their area warrant an off-sales purchase age of 21, with local police Chief Constables able to request this at any time Ban off-sales promotions such as 'three for two' and cut-price offers, which encourage bulk buying and over-consumption, and ban selling alcohol as a 'loss leader' Restrict the display and marketing of alcohol products to specified areas in off-sales premises Put in place the legal power to introduce a Social Responsibility Fee for some retailers, with details to be developed with stakeholders over the course of this year
*One Scotland anti-racism campaignThe Scottish Governments One Scotland campaign tries to tackle racism in Scotland, mostly by education, but also through public information, enabling minority groups to become aware of their rights under the law.
*Dungavel Detention Centre
There have been protests in and out of Scottish Parliament against the holding of children of asylum seekers at the Dungavel Detention Centre in South Lanarkshire. The Calman Commission recommends greater consultation and co-operation between UK and Scottish authorities on local variations to immigration policy;
*Nuclear Power -Scotland's two nuclear power stations, Hunterston B, in Ayrshire, and Torness, East Lothian, are earmarked for closure by 2011 and 2022 respectively. Planning is a devolved issue. Will there be a clash between Westminster and the Scottish Parliament over nuclear power?The SNP is opposed to all nuclear power. Then Secretary of State for Industry, Alastair Darling, in July 2006, stated that Scottish ministers will have the final say on whether to build more nuclear power plants in Scotland. Planning permission is Local Govt responsibilityTony Blair said that any decision would be in the hands of the Scottish Parliament.
The SNP is also opposed to the update of Scotlands nuclear submarines: Trident. Defence is a reserved power, but this will not stop the rows.
Foreign policy is reserved to Westminster. The UK Parliament decided that troops from Scotland should be sent to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Scottish Parliament can discuss foreign policy but it has no control. Only independent nations have control over borders and foreign policy.**