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Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Parliament is the legislature of Scotland. The first Scottish Parliament came into existence in 1326 and functioned until the Act of Union merged the Parliaments of Scotland and England in 1707.

Almost three hundred years later it was reconstituted as a body which deals with matters which have been devolved to it by the UK Parliament. It gained its full powers on July 1, 1999, almost two years after a referendum on its creation, which took place on September 11, 1997. At the first meeting of the Parliament, held three years later, Winnie Ewing, sitting by virtue of being the oldest MSP at the time (May 1999) declared that the Scottish Parliament, which had been adjourned in 1707, was now in session, thus explicitly proclaiming a connection with the previous body. ([1] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/special_report/1999/06/99/scottish_parliament_opening/379321.stm))

The Scottish Parliament has the power to pass laws and has limited tax raising capability. Another of its jobs is to hold the Scottish Executive[?] to account. The "devolved matters" over which it has responsibility include education, health, agriculture, and justice. Much domestic authority, and all foreign policy, remains with the British Parliament in Westminster.

It is currently made up of 129 Members of Scottish Parliament (MSPs). The current state of the Parties are:

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$ Scottish Labour Party: 50
@ Scottish National Party: 27
* Scottish Conservative and Unionist: 18
% Scottish Liberal Democrats: 17
~ Scottish Green Party: 7
+ Scottish Socialist Party: 6
& Independents: 3 (The Independent MSP's are Dennis Canavan[?] (Falkirk West), Margo MacDonald[?] (Lothians), and Dr. Jean Turner[?] (Strathkelvin and Bearsden)
/ Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party: 1

The elections for the Scottish Parliament were the first in the UK to use a method of proportional representation which is known as the Additional Member System.

One MSP is elected by the other MSPs to be Presiding Officer[?], a position similar to that of the Speaker of the House[?] in the UK Parliament.

The official home of the Scottish Parliament will be at Holyrood, but as the building is still being constructed, a temporary home exists at the General Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh, though official photographs and TV interviews are often held in the courtyard adjoining the Parliament, which is part of the School of Divinity at Edinburgh University).

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