MSPs

This page contains frequently asked questions about Members of the Scottish Parliament.

Please note that the Scottish Parliament is not responsible for the content of any external websites.

  • What is the difference between an MSP and an MP and what do they do?

    The people of Scotland elect 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs). MSPs represent their constituents on devolved matters in the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

    There are 59 MPs (Members of Parliament) representing Scotland in the House of Commons at Westminster in London. Their role is to represent their constituents on reserved matters.

    MSPs and MPs are elected by separate general elections.

    You should contact your MSP(s) if you wish to raise an issue about a devolved matter and your MP if you wish to raise an issue about a reserved matter. If you are unsure whether a matter is devolved or reserved, contact Public Information.

  • Can an MSP also be an MP?

    Yes. MSPs can hold a dual mandate. Dual mandate is the term used to describe those MSPs who, in addition to their seat in the Scottish Parliament, also hold a seat in the House of Commons (as MPs), the House of Lords (as Peers) or the European Parliament (as MEPs), or who represent a ward in their local council (as councillors).

    Although Nicola Sturgeon MSP is the leader of the Scottish National Party and First Minister in the Scottish Government, she is not an MP and does not sit in the UK Parliament.

  • Who represents me in the Scottish Parliament and how do I contact them?

    Each person in Scotland is represented in the Scottish Parliament by one constituency MSP and normally by seven regional MSPs.

    You can use our postcode search to find out who your constituency and regional MSPs are (you can use the Royal Mail postcode finder to check your postcode). You can access information about each MSP, including contact details, by clicking on his/her name on the results webpage.

    To receive a list of your MSPs' names to your mobile phone, text your postcode to 07786 209 888.

  • What is the difference between a constituency MSP and a regional MSP?

    Constituency MSPs and regional MSPs have equal status in the Scottish Parliament and you are free to contact any of the eight MSPs who represent you. The different terms are used only to differentiate between the size of the geographical areas they represent and the way in which they were elected.

    At a Scottish Parliament election each voter has two votes. With one vote, voters choose between candidates standing in the 73 constituencies to elect a constituency MSP. The other vote is for a political party (or for a candidate standing as an individual) within a larger region, which is formed by the grouping together of between eight and ten constituencies. There are eight Scottish Parliament regions and each region has seven additional seats in the Parliament. The MSPs who win these seats are known as regional MSPs.

  • Who are the party leaders in the Scottish Parliament?

    The leaders of the five parties represented in the Scottish Parliament are:

    Rt Hon Nicola Sturgeon MSP (Scottish National Party)
    Ruth Davidson MSP (Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party) 
    Kezia Dugdale MSP (Scottish Labour Party)
    Patrick Harvie MSP (Scottish Green Party) 
    Willie Rennie MSP (Scottish Liberal Democrats)

  • How are MSPs elected?

    At a Scottish Parliament election each voter has two votes.

    With one vote, voters choose between candidates standing in their constituency to elect a constituency MSP. The candidate who receives the largest number of votes in the constituency wins the seat. This voting system is called first-past-the-post. There are 73 constituencies for Scottish Parliament elections.

    The other vote is for a political party, or for a candidate standing as an individual, within a larger electoral area known as a region. (A region is formed by the grouping together of between eight and ten constituencies.) There are eight Scottish Parliament regions and each region has seven additional seats in the Parliament. The MSPs chosen to fill these 56 additional seats are known as regional MSPs. Regional MSPs are allocated seats using a formula which takes into account the number of constituency seats that an individual or party has already won in that region, as well as the number of regional votes they received.

  • How much are MSPs paid and what are their allowances?

    Salaries from 1 April 2016:

    The annual salary for an MSP is currently £60,685.

    The annual salary for an MSP who holds a dual mandate is £20,229.

    The total annual salaries for officeholders (including their MSP salary) are:

    o First Minister: £148,595
    o Cabinet Secretary: £106,290 
    o Minister: £89,253
    o Presiding Officer: £106,290 
    o Deputy Presiding Officer: £89,253
    o Lord Advocate: £120,265
    o Solicitor General for Scotland: £103,769

    Allowances:

    Details of the Allowances Scheme, the current allowance and expenses rates, and the actual allowances claimed by MSPs can be accessed from the MSPs section of the website.

  • Where can I find a photograph of an MSP?

    Photographs of Session 5 MSPs are available on our Current MSPs page.

    Requests for photographs of Cabinet Secretaries or Ministers should be addressed to the Scottish Government.

  • Is there a central point at the Scottish Parliament for distributing emails and letters to MSPs?

    There is no central service within the Scottish Parliament for distributing emails to MSPs. If you wish to email a number of MSPs, you will have to contact them individually. A list of email addresses for all MSPs can be found in a fact sheet on our website.

    It is possible to ask our mail room to distribute documents to a number of MSPs. Please place each letter or document in an envelope with the name of the relevant MSP on the outside; you can then post these as a single package. (If you wish to send a document to all MSPs, it is not necessary to put each one in a separate envelope, but please enclose 129 copies.) All such packages should be marked "Documents for distribution to MSPs" and sent to the address below:

    The Mail Room
    The Scottish Parliament
    Edinburgh
    EH99 1SP

  • Can I find out how an MSP voted in a particular debate?

    Details of how MSPs voted in the Chamber are available in the Official Report of that day’s meeting of the Parliament, which also contains the text of what was said during the debate.

    Most of the voting takes place at Decision Time and votes are therefore listed under that heading in the Official Report.

  • How many MSPs are there and what is the party political breakdown?

    129 MSPs are elected in total: 73 constituency MSPs and 56 regional MSPs. 

    The current party political breakdown is given in the fact sheet 'MSPs by Party'.

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