Scotland’s Powers

The United Kingdom Parliament registers the UK with the United Nations this way: “Two countries, a principality and a province”. It must surprise hostile unionists to learn Scotland is defined as it should be, a country in its own right. Though indisputably a country Scotland does not enjoy full democratic powers. So, what powers does Scotland have? Not many it didn’t have before being sold to England.


What is The Scotland Act?

In principle, any matter not explicitly listed in the Scotland Act 1998 is implicitly devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

Reserved powers can be transferred from Westminster to Scotland under Section 30 of the Scotland Act, for example in the Edinburgh Agreement of 2012.

The Scottish Parliament was reinstated by the Scotland Act 1998, passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the body that governs two nations – Scotland and England: a province – Northern Ireland; and a principality – Wales.

This Act sets out the matters still dealt with by the Westminster Parliament called reserved matters. The legal ability of the Scottish Parliament to legislate (its “legislative competence”) on a matter is largely determined by whether it is reserved or not. Anything not listed as a specific reserved matter in the Act (meaning Westminster forgot to keep it) is automatically the preserve of Scotland.

Historically education and justice always were Scotland’s to govern, the latter in contention whenever the UK Supreme Court tries to override Scottish jurisprudence.

What powers does the Scottish Parliament hold?

The Scottish Parliament at Holyrood governs agriculture, education, the environment, health, local government, and justice. Lately it was given modest tax raising powers, but they are sufficiently hobbled to stop Scotland creating a system radically different from England and so encouraging families and businesses to relocate to Scotland.

Generally, all monies raised in Scotland go to the UK Treasury – including all oil revenues issuing from Scottish waters. plus all VAT, even tax from parking fines. In return for  taking Scotland’s wealth the UK Treasury gives Scotland an annual allowance not quite enough to live on, (call it pocket money) a sly way of keeping Scotland cash short.

BBC’s Scottish raised license fee is a prime example of this gross bias whereby it returns a fraction of fees to make programmes in Scotland. For England, Scotland is a cash cow.

What powers does the UK Parliament hold?

Reserved matters are subdivided into two categories: General and specific reservations.

General reservations cover major issues handled centrally by the Parliament in Westminster, some out of courtesy by Scots. They are the constitution, including: the Crown; the Union with England, Northern Ireland and Wales; the UK Parliament; the existence of the (criminal) High Court of Justiciary; the existence of the (civil) Court of Session; registration and funding of political parties; international relations, including: international development; the regulation of international trade; the Home Civil Service; defence; and that old catch-all category – treason.

Specific reservations cover areas of social and economic policy which are reserved to Westminster, listed under 11 ‘heads’. Below is everything England governs that Scotland cannot yet all our lives are affected. Acts and alterations to them can be passed in the House of Commons by a few MPs in quorate in a late night session while we’re asleep.

Head A – Financial and Economic Matters             

Fiscal, economic and monetary policy: currency; financial matters; financial markets; money laundering. (Considering there are so many tax havens owned and approved by the UK, “controlling” money laundering isn’t a joke but an extreme irony!)

Head B – Home Affairs

Drug abuse; data protection and access to such information; elections; firearms; film classification; immigration and nationality; scientific procedures on live animals; national security and counter terrorism; betting, gaming and lotteries; (hence the UK Treasury was able to lift £118 million from the Scottish Lottery to fund the  debts of the London Olympics) emergency powers; extradition; lieutenancies. (That’s chaps who get to wear gold braid-laden uniforms at formal events with an heraldic badge on their sword.)

Head C – Trade and Industry

Business associations; insolvency; competition; (allowing Rupert Murdoch to own all news and publishing outlets) intellectual property; import and export control; (including blockading Scotland if it regains independence and does better than England in exports) customer protection; product standards, safety and liability; weights and measures; telecommunications; (that means, the internet, Twitter, and GCHQ hacking your phone calls and computer can give the finger to Scotland) postal services; (hence you pay £50 for the delivery of a £5 package if you live in the Highlands) and research councils.

Head D – Energy

Electricity, oil and gas, (no chance those get devolved to Scotland though it actually owns the resources) coal; nuclear energy; energy efficiency.

Head E – Transport

Marine transport; air transport. (Don’t blame Holyrood for profiteering airport charges. Five minutes parking – £3. Ten minutes parking £8. Fifteen minutes parking £16.)

Head F – Social Security

Social Security schemes; child support; pensions. (Westminster retains the right to refuse you welfare payments and social security.)

Head G – Regulation of the Professions

Architects; health professions; auditors. (Scottish accountancy companies are governed by England.)

Head H – Employment

Employment and industrial relations; health and safety. (Broke a leg at work? – sue Westminster! )

Head J – Health and Medicines

Abortion; xenotransplantation; (process of grafting or transplanting organs) embryology, surrogacy; and human genetics; medicines, medical supplies; poisons; welfare foods. (Scotland cannot stop conglomerate pharmaceutical companies from overcharging.)

Head K – Media and Culture

Broadcasting, (BBC bosses are laughing their heads off) public lending rights.

Head L – Miscellaneous

Judicial salaries; equal opportunities; control of weapons, and weapons of mass destruction, (Trident gets dumped wherever Westminster wants it dumped) ordinance survey; the time; (bet that takes you by surprise. This is why every year some Tory land owning MP demands abolishing summer time that favours Scotland’s long winter nights) and finally … outer space. (Let’s hope Westminster doesn’t exploit that one- oh, wait! Dumping the EU means we pay for and build our own satellites.)

Executive powers

The executive powers of Scottish Government ministers generally follow the same boundaries as the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament, i.e. if the Parliament can legislate on a matter, then any ministerial powers under statute or royal prerogative are exercised by the Scottish Ministers. It’s also possible for the Scottish Ministers to be given powers in relation to reserved matters, a process known as executive devolution.

Confusion and clueless

The reserved matters continue to be a battle ground over conflicts and anomalies. For example, while the funding of Gaelic Television is controlled by the Scottish Government, broadcasting is a reserved matter, and while energy is a reserved matter – think nuclear power stations – planning permission for power stations is devolved. Fracking is reserved yet the Scottish government can delay it to stop fracking in Scotland.

For the full United Nations document click on the link in the Comments section below under Greg’s contribution – you’ll need half an hour to read it all. Immediately below is the United Nations description of the constituent parts of the United Kingdom.



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29 Responses to Scotland’s Powers

  1. xsticks says:

    Nicely put together GB. It will save some time being able to point naysayers to it. Thanks. Seasons greetings to you and yours to BTW.

  2. Grouse Beater says:

    Here’s to 2017, Xsticks. Hope to see you there, and again until we meet on Independence Day.

  3. Greg Beekman says:

    Do you have a link to the UK’s registration with the UN? Didn’t know there was such a thing.

  4. Grouse Beater says:

    Every nation registers with the UN. The UK is unique in the respect it’s made up of several large and small territories, each linked by a mutual agreement of one sort or another, not forgetting Gibraltar. A definition was always mandatory, as was the USA’s with all its states.

    The UK definition was issued at a time when the UK had attached to it a commonwealth … a potage of colonial territories sure to confuse when called the ’empire of Great Britain’, meaning England.

  5. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    Beezer GB

  6. Grouse Beater says:

    Just got back to my desk – well done. The USSR had a devil of job defining itself, too, with all its satellite states and territories.

    When you think about it, the Cold War was totally fake – it gave the USSR and the USA the excuse to grab control of as many countries as they liked under the guise of trying to ‘protect’ them from the commies or the capitalists.

  7. Grouse Beater says:

    One thing the Referendum taught me – got no back up evidence? Its written on record somewhere. Just a matter of looking for it. Spread the good news for me, Panda, and feel free to use it in argument as much as you like. It’s a delicious taste – is it not?

  8. Greg Beekman says:

    Agree totally – one of my No-voting friends still tries to argue Scotland is a region, not a country. This should finally put the nail in that coffin.

  9. mark says:

    Excellent article, well done mate.

  10. Grouse Beater says:

    I too have had that bogus assertion tossed at me, that Scotland shrunk to a mere territory of Greater England in 1707. The statement comes from the mouth of Colonel Blimps, a colonial mentality, and an aggressive one.

    As I said to Panda, spread the Word, a gift to all democrats everywhere.

    I am surprised the ‘discovery’ has not reached the media and newspapers. What a surprise – eh?

  11. Grouse Beater says:

    You’re welcome – a festive gift to supporters of genuine democracy, and self-governance reinstated … pass it on to the needy!

  12. Greg Beekman says:

    Having experienced indyref, I expect nothing but one-sided propaganda from the MSM. If Scotland is not a country, how could it sign a Union contract? And surely Union implies two equal partners? MSM will be arguing next that Ben Nevis was never a mountain…

  13. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    So far I have had 80 retweets and many more onward mentions.

    I called it a game changer simply because it has given a bounce to the Nats on twitter, someone should push it on Facebook, and we have a wee podger behind our back to chib arrogant Yoons everywhere.

    Well done GB for flushing out that Turkey

  14. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    2 countries, So we can divorce the other country? Seems like it is only about procedure now.

  15. Grouse Beater says:

    I have steadfastly avoided Facebook, Panda, an irrational suspicion, I know, that my private domestic life is over if I join, but I notice once on it news spreads like the proverbial wildfire. At least two recent essays reached 6,000 hits in two days when transferred to Facebook. (The site got almost 180,000 hits this year, a year-on-year increase of 40%. Bit of responsibility, one I never envisaged I’d attract. I write to help me understand issues.)

    I used to argue that England never made a treaty with itself, consequently, if a treaty exists it presupposes at least two countries exist. Sad to say, the other logical aspect is, you don’t make a treaty with your friends.

    Anyhow, thank you for passing the document on. When you think about it, just joining a club means you give you name, address, and phone number, sometimes hobbies, and some more information such as car registration number. Joining the UN is joining a club; you do the same thing. You lodge a political and geographical statement, the equivalent of your name, family, and address.

  16. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    Xmas come early; now over 110 retweets

  17. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    I am two personages, one myself with own domain and server space. Other for the Panda with appropriate e-mail address and old telephone number and address

  18. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    Anybody up for ramming the UK’s definition of outself down Mundell’s geggie?

  19. Grouse Beater says:

    I can see a situation where there are two nations running their own affairs, trading openly and cross-employing as now, but with an agreement to unite if the British isles is ever attacked, though not necessarily to go to war against a third nation if one decides it will do that.

  20. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    Bring the Irish into it and… What about Nato? Same thing?

  21. Pingback: Scotland’s Brexit | Questions and Reflections

  22. seanair says:

    Brilliant and worrying list.

    Heard on STV news tonight that Police Scotland are in financial trouble over next few years (later contested by SG). I believe Police Scotland are the only police organisation in the U.K. to pay VAT.

    If true, why is this the case? If true, why is the Scottish Government not arguing for it to be abolished? Why are the 50 something SNP MPs not raising this in the H of C? I am perplexed.

  23. Grouse Beater says:

    Sticking VAT on Police Scotland is another way of keeping its ambitions in check. You’re right, it’s outrageous. The opposition are happy to have it remain in place because it gives them the excuse to say our police force isn’t good value for money.

    For the life of me I don’t understand why anybody wants ruled by corrupt Westminster, unless they’re masochists.

  24. hopper69 says:

    Westminster says that SG was warned that if it funded the Scottish police directly then they would be liable for VAT.

    Westminster refuses to amend the vat regulations to solve the problem.Merely a punishment for us.When the same situation occured in england where their police training college was to be directly funded,the vat rules were amended specifically for them so they were not to be liable for vat.

    Feeling better together yet?

  25. Grouse Beater says:

    Well said, Hopper, well said.

  26. Hon Bugger le Panda says:

    Does Fire Service not have same problem.

  27. Have a great break GB.
    I sense something truly wonderful in 2017.

  28. Grouse Beater says:

    I hope so, Jack, I truly hope so…

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