Devolved and Reserved Matters

What is devolution?

The main job of any parliament is to make laws. The main function of the Scottish Parliament is to make laws which affect the Scottish people.

The Scottish Parliament is part of a process known as devolution. Devolution is a system of government which allows decisions to be made at a more local level. In the UK there are several examples of devolved government including: the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Greater London Authority (Mayor of London and London Assembly).

Under this system of devolution Scotland is still part of the United Kingdom and the UK Parliament in Westminster is sovereign (has ultimate power).

The Scottish Parliament has power to introduce new laws on a wide range of issues that are known as devolved matters. Some issues remain the responsibility of the UK Parliament alone. These are know as reserved matters.

The UK Parliament at Westminster retains power to legislate on any matter, but the convention of devolution is that the UK Parliament will not normally legislate on devolved matters without the consent of the Scottish Parliament. Find out about Legislative Consent Memorandums

Find out more about devolution through the Citizens' Guide to Scottish Devolution (2.04 MB pdf)