What has the Scottish Parliament achieved, and what can it teach Westminster?

Barry K. Winetrobe and Robert Hazell

in Anglo-Scottish Relations, from 1900 to Devolution and Beyond

Published by British Academy

Published in print December 2005 | ISBN: 9780197263310
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734144 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

What has the Scottish Parliament achieved, and what can it teach Westminster?

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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This chapter argues that there was a determination that the 1997 devolution plan, unlike the earlier 1979 plan, would be ‘not like Westminster’ but would result from a ‘home-grown process’. It classifies the Holyrood parliament's successes and its failures, but its successes are there to be transferred and to be copied. In particular, it explains the four key principles of the Consultative Steering Group report: power-sharing, accountability, openness and accessibility, and equal opportunities. There is no generally accepted inclusive list of functions that a parliament is expected to carry out. It then investigates the four interlocking aspects of the parliament in operation over its first four-year session, as examples of how it has performed and how it may have lessons for Westminster. These include the arrangement of parliamentary business, legislation, committees, and accountability and representation. The committees are probably the Scottish Parliament's greatest single practical achievement. The other main feature of the parliament by comparison with Westminster is its greater institutional autonomy in relation to the Executive. The Scottish Parliament has also demonstrated a determination to be a learning parliament.

Keywords: Scottish Parliament; Westminster; Consultative Steering Group; power-sharing; accountability; openness; accessibility; equal opportunities

Chapter.  6446 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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