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Scottish responsibilities

Devolution established the Scottish Parliament with responsibility for devolved matters while the UK Parliament remains responsible for 'reserved matters' in Scotland.

The Scottish Parliament has full legislative competence (in other words, it can pass both primary and secondary legislation) across a wide range of devolved subjects.

The Scottish Government is the devolved administration led by a First Minister, elected by the Scottish Parliament, who appoints a Cabinet of Scottish Ministers.

The 1998 Scotland Act does not set out devolved subjects but instead lists 'reserved matters' for which the UK Parliament retains responsibility. By definition, devolved matters on which the Parliament can legislate are all those which are not specifically reserved (with certain provisos set out in the Act).

Devolved issues include:

  • health
  • education and training
  • local government
  • social work
  • housing
  • planning
  • tourism, economic development and financial assistance to industry
  • some aspects of transport, including the Scottish road network, bus policy and ports and harbours
  • law and home affairs, including most aspects of criminal and civil law, the prosecution system and the courts
  • the Police and Fire services
  • the environment
  • natural and built heritage
  • agriculture, forestry and fishing
  • sport and the arts
  • statistics, public registers and records