Scotland's Future

Scotland’s referendum on 18 September 2014 is a choice between two futures.

Annex B Main Devolved and Reserved Responsibilities

Responsibilities devolved to the Scottish Parliament and Government

The Scotland Act 1988 does not set out devolved subjects, but instead lists 'reserved matters' for which the UK Parliament retains responsibility. Devolved matters on which the Scottish Parliament can make laws are all those that are not specifically reserved (with certain provisos set out in the Act).

Devolved matters

  • 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
  • Air guns unless classified as "specially dangerous"
  • Certain forms of taxation (local taxes, such as council tax and non-domestic rates; taxes on land and building transactions; taxes on waste disposal to landfill)

The Scottish Parliament also has powers to vary the standard rate of Income Tax by up to three pence in the pound, and under the Scotland Act 2012 will have a responsibility for setting a Scottish Rate of Income Tax at a rate up to ten pence in the pound different from that elsewhere in the UK.

Scottish Government Ministers also have a range of "executively devolved" powers to make secondary legislation, such as regulations, about some of the reserved matters listed below. Otherwise the powers of the Westminster Government match those of the Westminster Parliament.

Responsibilities reserved to the Westminster Parliament

Constitutional and general reservations

The Crown, including succession to the Crown and a regency
The Union of the Kingdoms of Scotland and England
The Parliament of the United Kingdom, elections for membership of the House of Commons, the European Parliament and the Scottish Parliament
The higher courts
The Security Service, the Secret Intelligence Service and the Government Communications Headquarters
The registration and funding of political parties
Foreign affairs, international relations, and representation
The civil service

Economic and fiscal

Fiscal, economic and monetary policy, including the issue and circulation of money, taxes and excise duties (with the exceptions mentioned above), government borrowing and lending, control over United Kingdom public expenditure, the exchange rate and the Bank of England
The currency: coinage, legal tender and bank notes
Financial services
Financial markets, including listing and public offers of securities and investments, transfer of securities and insider dealing

Home affairs

Misuse of drugs
Data protection
Classification of films and videos
Immigration and nationality, including asylum and issue of travel documents
Scientific procedures on live animals
National security, interception of communications, official secrets and terrorism
Betting, gaming and lotteries
Emergency powers

Trade and industry

The creation, operation, regulation and dissolution of types of business association
Insolvency in relation to business associations
Regulation of anti-competitive practices and agreements; abuse of dominant position monopolies and mergers
Intellectual property
Import and export control
Regulation of sea fishing outside the Scottish zone (except in relation to Scottish fishing boats)
Consumer protection
Product standards, safety and liability
Weights and measures
Telecommunications and wireless telegraphy, including internet services
Post Office, posts and postal services
Research Councils
Designation of assisted areas
Protection of trading and economic interests

Generation, transmission, distribution and supply of electricity
Oil and gas, including the ownership of, exploration for and exploitation of deposits of oil and natural gas, offshore installations and pipelines
Coal, including its ownership and exploitation, deep and opencast coal mining and coal mining subsidence
Nuclear energy and nuclear installations, including nuclear safety, security and safeguards, and liability for nuclear occurrences


Road transport
Rail transport, provision and regulation of railway services
Marine transport, including navigational rights and freedoms
Air transport
Transport of radioactive material

Social security

Social security schemes
Child support
The regulation of occupational pension schemes and personal pension schemes, including the obligations of the trustees or managers of such schemes

Regulation of the professions

Architects, health professions, auditors


Employment rights and duties and industrial relations
Health and safety at work
Job search and support

Health and medicines

Regulation of medical professions
Embryology, surrogacy and genetics
Medicines, medical supplies and poisons

Media and culture

Broadcasting, including the BBC
Public lending right
Government Indemnity Scheme for objects on loan to museums, art galleries, etc
Property accepted in satisfaction of tax


Judicial remuneration
Equal opportunities
Control of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction
The Ordnance Survey
Timescales, time zones and the subject-matter of the Summer Time Act 1972
The calendar, units of time, the date of Easter
Outer space
Regulation of activities in Antarctica

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