About the Scottish Parliament (Section 1)

"I am a member of the staff of the Scottish Parliament.” Not many people have been able to say that in Scottish history. While the Parliament itself is relatively new, Scotland has a long parliamentary tradition. Its beginnings can be traced to the 12th century, and by the 14th century, it contained representatives of the three main sections of society ('Three Estates'): the Church, the nobility and the burgesses. By the 1690s, the Scots Parliament was developing for itself a distinctive culture and ethos, reflecting in some ways the autonomy from the Monarch enjoyed by the English Parliament at Westminster

As is well-known, the independent existence of that Scots Parliament ended with the Union of 1707, and the creation of the new Parliament of Great Britain, based at Westminster. For the next three centuries, the Scottish parliamentary tradition was one primarily located in London. This led to growing demands for more ‘home rule’, to enable the distinctive aspects of Scottish life to be looked after better than was possible solely within a UK-wide Parliament. To that end, The Scottish Office was established in 1885, with its own ministers, staff and an ever-growing range of responsibilities.

This did not satisfy those who wished for a separate Parliament or even independence for Scotland. An attempt to establish a devolved Assembly in the late 1970s failed when it was not sufficiently supported at the 1979 Referendum. Several of the main political parties, together with other representatives of Scottish civic society, formed a Scottish Constitutional Convention in the late 1980s to devise a new devolution scheme, and its work was carried forward by the Labour government elected in 1997. A referendum held in September 1997 produced clear majorities for the creation of a Scottish Parliament. The Scotland Act 1998 was passed, and The Scottish Office set up a cross-party Consultative Steering Group to produce more detailed proposals for the procedures and practices of the new Parliament. Its report, which set out key principles and recommendations for ensuring that Scotland has an innovative and participative parliamentary democracy, was translated into the initial set of Standing Orders of the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish Parliament was elected on 6 May 1999, with its first session commencing on 12 May. From 1st July 1999 the Parliament, and the Scottish Executive (now known as the Scottish Government), assumed their full powers and duties. Since then the Parliament, through its plenary sessions and its committees, has been active in scrutinising proposed legislation and Government policy and actions on a wide range of subjects, and it has adopted its own set of Standing Orders and other Codes and Rules for its operation. The successes in establishing the Parliament from scratch, and in its first decade of operation, including the move to Holyrood, are due to the efforts of all the staff involved, who can be proud of their contributions, through their hard work and initiative, under great time pressures, since 1997. We should all be proud to say “I am a member of staff of the Scottish Parliament”.


The Parliament exists to define, debate, decide and legislate on issues of importance to the people of Scotland. In doing so, it holds the Scottish Government to account and is answerable to the people of Scotland.

The Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) was established by the Scotland Act 1998.  Its main function is to provide the Scottish Parliament with the property, staff and services required for the Parliament’s purposes.

The staff of the Scottish Parliamentary Service (SPS) are employed by the SPCB to deliver its requirements.  To do so, we in the SPS:

  • Aim to excel as a parliamentary service.
  • Deliver resilient, high quality, continually improving services that meet the needs of Parliament, its Members and the public.
  • Value our principles of integrity, impartialism, professionalism and equality.


We are committed to the highest standards of conduct in carrying out our work.  These standards are reflected in our values.  Our values form a fundamental part of our performance management systems and an integral part of our identity as an organisation. 

We act with impartiality and demonstrate high standards of professionalism when dealing with Members, the public and one another.

We promote a culture of openness, fairness and transparency in terms of access to our information, our building and all our services.

We treat Members, the public and each other with respect at all times, in line with our equality and diversity principles.

We actively pursue ways of working which deliver value for money.

We work flexibly, collaboratively and innovatively in meeting the Parliament’s requirements.

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