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Devolution: Compare Differences Between Scottish Parliament And Westminster

1209 words - 5 pages

Labour's Landslide Victory in the elections of 1997, led to a referendum being held in September 1997 at which the vote for devolution for Scotland was secured. Elections were then held in May 1999 and the newly created Scottish Parliament gained Power in July 1999. This essay will explore Scottish Devolution and compare the differences between the different political systems that have developed in Westminster and in Scotland. Voting systems will be compared along with explaining the constitutional relationship that has developed between Scotland and Westminster.So how diverse are the two Parliaments? The voting system that Westminster currently uses if known as First Past the Post (FPTP) which is simple for the electorate to understand. The voter has one ballot paper and one vote, voting for their personal choice of party. A single ballot paper exists where the voter, or constituent, has only one vote. The candidate with the most votes when a seat in the House of Commons and becomes MP for that constituency (Jones, 2004, p173).It seems a fair system but has been criticised by the minority parties who see it as a two party race, with the views of the minority not getting equally heard in the House of Commons. The Scottish Parliament, however, has adopted the electoral system known as Proportional Representation, in particular, the Additional Member System (AMS). AMS is a combination of the First Past the Post system and another form of PR the Party Lists System. The ballot paper allows the electorate to have two votes, one for constituency MP as before and the second for a political party. Candidates from the second ballot are given to Parliament in proportion of votes cast, thus the Government represents a broader range of public opinion.Basing the election system on proportional representation means that the Scottish Executive, might be made up of a coalition between different parties. During the first two terms of the Scottish Parliament the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties have shared power (Jones, 2004, p311). The advantage of the coalition system is that the different members of the Executive will push forward issues of importance to their party manifesto. This means broader representation for more of the electorate. For example, the Liberal Democrats were mainly responsible for driving the abolition of university tuition fees power (Jones, 2004, p311).So what devolved powers did the Scottish Parliament gain? And what powers did Westminister reserve? The Scottish Parliament has legislatory powers and the power to make decisions regarding the majority of Governmental issues including; education, housing, local government, health, police and fire services, environment, , law, home affairs, social work, and transport, the list goes on. It seems then , that Scotland has received to an extent 99 percent independence. In fact the devolution settlement consisted of the power to pass legislation, the power to alter the rate of tax and to have...

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