Ireland–United Kingdom relations
Ireland–United Kingdom relations referred to as Irish–British relations, or Anglo-Irish relations, are the relations between the states of Ireland and the United Kingdom. The three devolved administrations of the United Kingdom, in Scotland and Northern Ireland, the three dependencies of the British Crown, the Isle of Man and Guernsey participate in multilateral bodies created between the two states. Since at least the 1600s, all of these areas have been connected politically, reaching a height in 1801 with the creation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. About five-sixths of the island of Ireland seceded from the United Kingdom in 1921 as the Irish Free State. Relations between the two states have been influenced by issues arising from their shared history, the independence of the Irish Free State and the governance of Northern Ireland; these include the partition of Ireland and the terms of Ireland's secession, its constitutional relationship with and obligations to the UK after independence, the outbreak of political violence in Northern Ireland.
Additionally, the high level of trade between the two states, their proximate geographic location, their common status as islands in the European Union, common language and close cultural and personal links mean political developments in both states closely follow each other. Today and British citizens are accorded equivalent reciprocal rights and entitlements and a Common Travel Area exists between Ireland, United Kingdom, the Crown Dependencies; the British–Irish Intergovernmental Conference acts as an official forum for co-operation between the Government of Ireland and the Government of the United Kingdom on matters of mutual interest and with respect to Northern Ireland in particular. Two other bodies, the British–Irish Council and the British–Irish Parliamentary Assembly act as a forum for discussion between the executives and assemblies of the region, including the devolved regions in the UK and the three Crown dependencies. Co-operation between Northern Ireland and Ireland, including the execution of common policies in certain areas, occurs through the North/South Ministerial Council.
In 2014, the UK Prime Minister David Cameron, the Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny described the relationship between the two countries as being at'an all time high'. Both Ireland and the United Kingdom joined the European Union in 1973. However, the three Crown dependencies remain outside of the EU. In June 2016, the United Kingdom held a referendum in which the majority voted to leave the European Union, but the majority of voters in Northern Ireland voted for remaining in the EU. There have been relations between the people inhabiting the British Isles for as much as we know of their history. A Romano-Briton, Patricius known as Saint Patrick, brought Christianity to Ireland and, following the fall of the Roman Empire, missionaries from Ireland re-introduced Christianity to Britain; the expansion of Gaelic culture into what became known as Scotland brought close political and familial ties between people in Ireland and people in Great Britain, lasting from the early Middle Ages to the 17th century, including a common Gaelic language spoken on both islands.
Norse-Gaels in the Kingdom of Dublin and Norman invasion of Ireland added religious, political and social ties between Northumbria and Wales with Leinster in the Pale, the Isle of Man and Galloway, including Hiberno-English. War and colonisation during the 16th and 17th centuries brought Ireland securely under English control. However, this was at a cost of great resentment over land inequitable laws; this resulted in Gaelic ties between Scotland and Ireland withering over the course of the 17th century, including a divergence in the Gaelic language into two distinct languages. Secret societies, both opposing and supporting British rule through violent means, developed in the 18th century and several open rebellions were staged, most notably the 1798 Rebellion. Although Ireland gained near-independence from Great Britain in 1782, the kingdoms of the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland were merged in 1801 to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. 19th century violent and constitutional campaigns for autonomy or independence culminated in an election in 1918 returning 70% of seats to Sinn Féin, who declared Irish independence from Britain and set up a parliament in Dublin, declared the independence of Ireland from the United Kingdom.
A war of independence followed that ended with the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1922, which partitioned Ireland between the Irish Free State, which gained dominion status within the British Empire, a devolved administration in Northern Ireland, which remained part of the UK. In 1937, Ireland declared itself independent of the United Kingdom. Today, the British Isles contain two sovereign states: Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; the United Kingdom comprises four countries of the United Kingdom. All but Northern Ireland have been independent states at one point. There are three Crown dependencies, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, in the archipelago which are not part of the United Kingdom, although the United Kingdom maintains responsibility for certain affairs such as international affairs and ensuring good governance, on behalf of the British crown, can legislate directly for them; these participate in the shared institutions created between Ireland and the United Kingdom under the Good Friday Agreement.
The United Kingdom and the Crown dependencies
2007 Scottish Parliament election
The 2007 Scottish Parliament election was held on Thursday 3 May 2007 to elect members to the Scottish Parliament. It was the third general election to the devolved Scottish Parliament since it was created in 1999. Local elections in Scotland fell on the same day; the Scottish National Party emerged as the largest party with 47 seats followed by the incumbent Scottish Labour Party with 46 seats. The Scottish Conservatives won 17 seats, the Scottish Liberal Democrats 16 seats, the Scottish Green Party 2 seats and one Independent was elected; the SNP approached the Lib Dems for a coalition government, but the Lib Dems turned them down. The Greens agreed to provide the numbers to vote in an SNP minority government, with SNP leader Alex Salmond as First Minister; the Scottish Socialist Party and the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party, which won seats in the 2003 election, lost all of their seats. Former MSP Tommy Sheridan's new party, Solidarity failed to win any seats. Campbell Martin and Dr Jean Turner both lost their seats, Dennis Canavan and Brian Monteith retired.
The main issues during the campaign trail were healthcare, council tax reform, the Union, the Iraq War and more powers for the Scottish Parliament. Some parties proposed raise the school leaving age from 16 to 18 and raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 16 to 18. Jack McConnell, as First Minister, entered the election defending a small overall majority of five seats via a coalition of Labour and the Liberal Democrats; the Lab-LD social liberal coalition had been in power, with three different First Ministers, since the first Scottish Parliament election in 1999. Opinion polls suggested its majority could be lost in 2007, due to falling support for the Labour Party and rising support for other parties, in particular the Scottish National Party; the polls suggested that no single party was to acquire an overall majority, nor was there an obvious alternative coalition ready to form a new Executive. A TNS Poll in November 2006 gave Labour an 8% lead over the SNP, second behind Labour in terms of numbers of Members of the Scottish Parliament.
As the election approached the SNP gained support while Labour's support declined. Based on pre-election projections, there could have been some possibility of an SNP–Liberal Democrat coalition, which might have extended to include the Scottish Green Party; the other parties represented in the Parliament before the election were the Scottish Conservative Party, the Scottish Socialist Party and the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party. Other parties that campaigned for seats in Holyrood included the United Kingdom Independence Party, the British National Party, the Scottish Unionist Party, the Scottish Socialist Labour Party, the Christian Peoples Alliance, the Scottish Christian Party and the Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers Party. Susan Deacon, Edinburgh East and Musselburgh John Home Robertson, East Lothian Janis Hughes, Glasgow Rutherglen Kate Maclean, Dundee West Maureen Macmillan and Islands list Bruce McFee, West of Scotland list George Reid, Ochil Phil Gallie, South of Scotland list James Douglas-Hamilton, Lothians list Donald Gorrie, Central Scotland list Jim Wallace, Orkney Frances Curran, West of Scotland list Dennis Canavan, Falkirk West Brian Monteith, Mid Scotland and Fife list Gordon Jackson, Glasgow Govan Sylvia Jackson, Stirling Margaret Jamieson and Loudoun Maureen Macmillan and Islands Christine May, Fife Central Alasdair Morrison, Western Isles Bristow Muldoon, Livingston Allan Wilson, Cunninghame North Andrew Arbuckle, Mid Scotland and Fife Nora Radcliffe, Gordon Euan Robson and Berwickshire Dave Petrie and Islands Murray Tosh, West of Scotland Shiona Baird, North East Scotland Chris Ballance, South of Scotland Mark Ballard, Lothians Mark Ruskell, Mid Scotland and Fife Eleanor Scott and Islands Rosemary Byrne, South of Scotland Colin Fox, Lothians Rosie Kane, Glasgow Carolyn Leckie, Central Scotland Tommy Sheridan, Glasgow John Swinburne, Central Scotland Campbell Martin, West of Scotland - Former SNP MSP Jean Turner and Bearsden Turnout in the election was 51.7% in the constituency vote and 52.4% in the regional vote up from 2003 where the turnout was 49.4% in both the constituency and regional vote Notes: Independents contested 17 seats and three regions.
Scottish Greens contested 1 seat, Scottish Socialist Party contested 1 seat, Scottish Christian Party, Scottish Voice etc. contested a small number of seats. A number of local issue parties stood in single constituencies; the Nine Per Cent Growth Party stood candidates on the regional lists, had a candidate for the local council elections of the same year. Standing in the Glasgow Regional List the party finished last of 23 candidates, receiving only 80 votes, a record low; some counts in the Western Isles were delayed because the chartered helicopter sent to pick up the ballot boxes was delayed by bad weather. The boxes were instead transferred by road to be counted in Stornoway; the votes were announced around 12.00 on Friday 4 May. A man smashed ballot boxes with a golf club at a polling station at Carrick Knowe in Corstorphine in Edinburgh. About 100 ballots were damaged; the man was arrested on the scene. The number of'invalid' ballot papers has increased from previous elections, the BBC reported that 142,000 were rejected.
The Herald reported that this included both constituency and regional
2016 Scottish Parliament election
The Scottish parliament election, 2016 was held on Thursday, 5 May 2016 to elect 129 members to the Scottish Parliament. It was the fifth election held since the devolved parliament was established in 1999, it was the first parliamentary election in Scotland in which 16 and 17 year olds were eligible to vote, under the provisions of the Scottish Elections Act. It was the first time the three largest parties were led by women. Parliament went into dissolution on 24 March 2016, allowing the official period of campaigning to get underway. Five parties had MSPs in the previous parliament: Scottish National Party led by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish Labour Party led by Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Conservatives led by Ruth Davidson, Scottish Liberal Democrats led by Willie Rennie, Scottish Greens, led by their co-conveners Patrick Harvie and Maggie Chapman. Of those five parties, four changed their leader since the 2011 election. During the campaign, a series of televised debates took place, including party leaders of the elected parties.
BBC Scotland held the first leaders’ debate on 24 March, STV broadcast the next on 29 March, BBC Scotland hosted the final debate on 1 May. The Scottish National Party won the election and a third term in government, but fell two seats short of securing a second consecutive overall majority; the Conservatives saw a significant increase in support and replaced the Labour Party as the second-largest party and main opposition in the Scottish Parliament. This was the first time; the Scottish Greens won six seats on the regional list and overtook the Liberal Democrats, who remained on five seats. Although the SNP had lost their majority, it was still by far the largest single party in the Scottish Parliament, with more than double the seats of the Conservatives. Accordingly, Sturgeon announced, she was voted in for a second term as First Minister on 17 May. Under the Scotland Act 1998, an ordinary election to the Scottish Parliament would have been held on the first Thursday in May four years after the 2011 election, i.e. in May 2015.
In May 2010, the new UK Government stated in its coalition agreement that the next United Kingdom general election would be held in May 2015. This proposal was criticised by the Scottish National Party and Labour, as it had been recommended after the 2007 election that elections with different voting systems should be held on separate days: a recommendation which all of the political parties had accepted. In response to this criticism, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg offered the right to vary the date of the Scottish Parliament election by a year either way. All the main political parties stated their support for delaying the election by a year; the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, a statute of the UK Parliament, moved the date of the Scottish Parliament election to 5 May 2016. The date of the poll may be varied by up to one month either way by the monarch, on the proposal of the Presiding Officer. If Parliament itself resolves that it should be dissolved, with at least two-thirds of the Members voting in favour, the Presiding Officer proposes a date for an extraordinary election and the Parliament is dissolved by the monarch by royal proclamation.
It does not require a two-thirds majority to precipitate an extraordinary election, because under the Scotland Act Parliament is dissolved if it fails to nominate one of its members to be First Minister within certain time limits, irrespective of whether at the beginning or in the middle of a parliamentary term. Therefore, if the First Minister resigned, Parliament would have 28 days to elect a successor. If no new First Minister was elected the Presiding Officer would ask for Parliament to be dissolved under s3a; this process could be triggered if the First Minister lost a vote of confidence by a simple majority, as s/he must resign. To date the Parliament has never held a confidence vote on a First Minister. No extraordinary elections have been held to date. Any extraordinary elections would be in addition to ordinary elections, unless held less than six months before the due date of an ordinary election, in which case they supplant it; the subsequent ordinary election reverts to the first Thursday in May, a multiple of four years after 1999.
It was envisaged that the election would still have taken place as scheduled if Scotland had voted in favour of independence in 2014. Changes to the SNP's selection procedures the previous year in order to ensure gender balance of candidates meant that any incumbent constituency MSP who chose to retire would have their replacement selected from an all woman shortlist; the only ways for a new male candidate to receive a constituency nomination would be to stand in a constituency held by an opposition MSP or to run a de-selection campaign against a sitting MSP. For that reason there were far more challenges than normal within the SNP, but only two were successful: The total number of Members of the Scottish Parliament elected to the Parliament is 129; the First Periodical Review of the Scottish Parliament's constituencies and regions by the Boundary Commission for Scotland, was announced on 3 July 2007. The Commission published its provisional proposals for the regional boundaries in 2009; the Scottish Parliament uses an Additional Members System, designed to produce approximate proportional representation for each region.
There are each sub-divided into smaller constituencies. There are a total of 73 constituencies; each constituency elects one MSP by the plurality system of election. Each reg
First Minister of Scotland
The First Minister of Scotland is the leader of the Scottish Government. The First Minister chairs the Scottish Cabinet and is responsible for the formulation and presentation of Scottish Government policy. Additional functions of the First Minister include promoting and representing Scotland in an official capacity, at home and abroad, responsibility for constitutional affairs, as they relate to devolution and the Scottish Government; the First Minister is a Member of the Scottish Parliament and nominated by the Scottish Parliament before being appointed by the monarch. Members of the Cabinet and junior ministers of the Scottish Government as well as the Scottish law officers, are appointed by the First Minister; as head of the Scottish Government, the First Minister is directly accountable to the Scottish Parliament for their actions and the actions of the wider government. Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party is the current First Minister of Scotland. Following a referendum in 1997, in which the Scottish electorate gave their consent, a Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government were reconvened by the Labour government of Tony Blair, having been suspended following the Acts of Union in 1707.
The process was known as devolution and was initiated to give Scotland some measure of home rule or self-governance in its domestic affairs, such as health and justice. Devolution resulted in administrative and legislative changes to the way Scotland was governed, resulted in the establishment of a post of First Minister to be head of the devolved Scottish Government; the term "First Minister" is analogous to the use of Premier to denote the heads of government in sub-national entities of Commonwealth nations, such as the provinces and territories of Canada, provinces of South Africa, states of Malaysia and the states of Australia. Prior to devolution the comparable functions of the First Minister were exercised by the Secretary of State for Scotland, who headed the Scottish Office, a department of the wider United Kingdom Government and existed from 1885 to 1999; the Secretary of State was a member of the British Cabinet and appointed by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to have responsibility for the domestic affairs of Scotland.
Since 1999, the Secretary of State has a much reduced role as a result of the transfer of responsibilities to the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government. The First Minister is nominated by the Scottish Parliament from among its members at the beginning of each term, by means of an exhaustive ballot, they are formally appointed by the monarch. In theory, any member of the Scottish Parliament can be nominated for First Minister. However, the government must maintain the confidence of the Scottish Parliament to in order to gain supply. For this reason, the First Minister is always the leader of the largest party, or the leader of the senior partner in any majority coalition. There is no term of office for a First Minister. In practice, they hold office as long. Whenever the office of First Minister falls vacant, the Sovereign is responsible for appointing the new incumbent. Given the additional member system used to elect its members, it is difficult for a single party to gain an overall majority of seats in the Scottish Parliament.
The SNP gained an overall majority of seats in the 2011 election, thus had enough numbers to vote in its leader, Alex Salmond, as First Minister for a second term. After the election of the Scottish Parliament, a First Minister must be nominated within a period of 28 days. Under the terms of the Scotland Act, if the Parliament fails to nominate a First Minister, within this time frame, it will be dissolved and a fresh election held. If an incumbent First Minister is defeated in a general election, they do not vacate office; the First Minister only leaves office. After accepting office, the First Minister takes the Official Oath, as set out in the Promissory Oaths Act 1868; the oath is tendered by the Lord President of the Court of Session at a sitting of the Court in Parliament House in Edinburgh. The oath is: I, do swear that I will well and serve Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in the office of First Minister, So help me God; the period in office of a First Minister is not linked to the term of Members of the Scottish Parliament.
The Scotland Act set out a four-year maximum term for each session of Parliament. The Act specifies than an election to the Scottish Parliament will be held on the first Thursday in May, every four years, starting from 1999. Parliament can be dissolved and an extraordinary general election held, before the expiration of the four-year term, but only if two-thirds of elected MSPs vote for such action in a resolution of the Scottish Parliament. If a simple majority of MSPs voted a no-confidence motion in the First Minister/Government, that would trigger a 28-day period for the nomination of a replacement; the First Minister, once appointed continues in office as the head of the devolved Scottish Government until either they resign, is dismissed or dies in office. Resignation can be triggered off by the passage of
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal in the UK for civil cases, for criminal cases from England and Northern Ireland. It hears cases of the greatest public or constitutional importance affecting the whole population; as authorised by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, Part 3, Section 23 and s. 23, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom was formally established on 1 October 2009. It assumed the judicial functions of the House of Lords, exercised by the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, the 12 judges appointed as members of the House of Lords to carry out its judicial business as the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords, its jurisdiction over devolution matters had been exercised by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The current President of the Supreme Court is Baroness Hale of Richmond, its Deputy President is Lord Reed; the United Kingdom has a doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty, so the Supreme Court is much more limited in its powers of judicial review than the constitutional or supreme courts of some other countries.
It cannot overturn any primary legislation made by Parliament. However, it can overturn secondary legislation if, for example, that legislation is found to be ultra vires to the powers in primary legislation allowing it to be made. Further, under section 4 of the Human Rights Act 1998, the Supreme Court, like some other courts in the United Kingdom, may make a declaration of incompatibility, indicating that it believes that the legislation subject to the declaration is incompatible with one of the rights in the European Convention on Human Rights; such a declaration can apply to secondary legislation. The legislation is not overturned by the declaration, neither Parliament nor the government is required to agree with any such declaration. However, if they do accept a declaration, ministers can exercise powers under section 10 of the act to amend the legislation by statutory instrument to remove the incompatibility or ask Parliament to amend the legislation; the creation of a Supreme Court for the United Kingdom was first mooted in a consultation paper published by the Department of Constitutional Affairs in July 2003.
Although the paper noted that there had been no criticism of the then-current Law Lords or any indication of an actual bias, it argued that the separation of the judicial functions of the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords from the legislative functions of the House of Lords should be made explicit. The paper noted the following concerns: Whether there was any longer sufficient transparency of independence from the executive and the legislature to give assurance of the independence of the judiciary; the requirement for the appearance of impartiality and independence limited the ability of the Law Lords to contribute to the work of the House itself, thus reducing the value to both them and the House of their membership. It was not always understood by the public that judicial decisions of "the House of Lords" were in fact taken by the Judicial Committee and that non-judicial members were never involved in the judgments. Conversely, it was felt that the extent to which the Law Lords themselves had decided to refrain from getting involved in political issues in relation to legislation on which they might have had to adjudicate was not always appreciated.
The new President of the Court, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, has claimed that the old system had confused people and that with the Supreme Court there would for the first time be a clear separation of powers among the judiciary, the legislature and the executive. Space within the House of Lords was at a constant premium and a separate supreme court would ease the pressure on the Palace of Westminster; the main argument against a new Supreme Court was that the previous system had worked well and kept costs down. Reformers expressed concern that this second main example of a mixture of the legislative and executive might conflict with professed values under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Officials who make or execute laws have an interest in court cases; when the state invests judicial authority in those officials or their day-to-day colleagues, it puts the independence and impartiality of the courts at risk. It was hypothesised connected decisions of the Law Lords to debates had by friends or on which the Lord Chancellor had expressed a view might be challenged on Human Rights grounds on the basis that they had not constituted a fair trial.
Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury President of the Supreme Court, expressed fear that the new court could make itself more powerful than the House of Lords committee it succeeded, saying that there is a real risk of "judges arrogating to themselves greater power than they have at the moment". Lord Phillips said such an outcome was "a possibility", but was "unlikely"; the reforms were controversial and were brought forward with little consultation but were subsequently extensively debated in Parliament. During 2004, a select committee of the House of Lords scrutinised the arguments for and against setting up a new court; the Government estimated the set-up cost of the Supreme Court at £56.9 million. As authorised by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, Part 3, Section 23 and s. 23, the Supreme Court was formally established on 1 October 2009. It assumed the judicial functions of the House of Lords, exercised by the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, the 12 professional judges appointed as members of the House of Lords to carry out its judicial business.
Its jurisdiction over devolution matters had been exercised
Government of the United Kingdom
The Government of the United Kingdom, formally referred to as Her Majesty's Government, is the central government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is commonly referred to as the UK Government or the British Government; the government is led by the Prime Minister. The prime minister and the other most senior ministers belong to the supreme decision-making committee, known as the Cabinet; the government ministers all sit in Parliament, are accountable to it. The government is dependent on Parliament to make primary legislation, since the Fixed-terms Parliaments Act 2011, general elections are held every five years to elect a new House of Commons, unless there is a successful vote of no confidence in the government or a two-thirds vote for a snap election in the House of Commons, in which case an election may be held sooner. After an election, the monarch selects as prime minister the leader of the party most to command the confidence of the House of Commons by possessing a majority of MPs.
Under the uncodified British constitution, executive authority lies with the monarch, although this authority is exercised only by, or on the advice of, the prime minister and the cabinet. The Cabinet members advise the monarch as members of the Privy Council. In most cases they exercise power directly as leaders of the Government Departments, though some Cabinet positions are sinecures to a greater or lesser degree; the current prime minister is Theresa May, who took office on 13 July 2016. She is the leader of the Conservative Party, which won a majority of seats in the House of Commons in the general election on 7 May 2015, when David Cameron was the party leader. Prior to this and the Conservatives led a coalition from 2010 to 2015 with the Liberal Democrats, in which Cameron was prime minister; the Government is referred to with the metonym Westminster, due to that being where many of the offices of the government are situated by members in the Government of Scotland, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive in order to differentiate it from their own.
A key principle of the British Constitution is. This is called responsible government; the United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy in which the reigning monarch does not make any open political decisions. All political decisions are taken by Parliament; this constitutional state of affairs is the result of a long history of constraining and reducing the political power of the monarch, beginning with Magna Carta in 1215. Parliament is split into the House of Commons; the House of Commons is the more powerful. The House of Lords is the upper house and although it can vote to amend proposed laws, the House of Commons can vote to overrule its amendments. Although the House of Lords can introduce bills, most important laws are introduced in the House of Commons – and most of those are introduced by the government, which schedules the vast majority of parliamentary time in the Commons. Parliamentary time is essential for bills to be passed into law, because they must pass through a number of readings before becoming law.
Prior to introducing a bill, the government may run a public consultation to solicit feedback from the public and businesses, may have introduced and discussed the policy in the Queen's Speech, or in an election manifesto or party platform. Ministers of the Crown are responsible to the House. For most senior ministers this is the elected House of Commons rather than the House of Lords. There have been some recent exceptions to this: for example, cabinet ministers Lord Mandelson and Lord Adonis sat in the Lords and were responsible to that House during the government of Gordon Brown. Since the start of Edward VII's reign in 1901, the prime minister has always been an elected member of Parliament and therefore directly accountable to the House of Commons. A similar convention applies to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it would be politically unacceptable for the budget speech to be given in the Lords, with MPs unable to directly question the Chancellor now that the Lords have limited powers in relation to money bills.
The last Chancellor of the Exchequer to be a member of the House of Lords was Lord Denman, who served as interim Chancellor of the Exchequer for one month in 1834. Under the British system, the government is required by convention and for practical reasons to maintain the confidence of the House of Commons, it requires the support of the House of Commons for the maintenance of supply and to pass primary legislation. By convention, if a government loses the confidence of the House of Commons it must either resign or a General Election is held; the support of the Lords, while useful to the government in getting its legislation passed without delay, is not vital. A government is not required to resign if it loses the confidence of the Lords and is defeated in key votes in that House; the House of Commons is thus the Responsible house. The prime minister is held to account during Prime Minister's Questions which provides an opportunity for MPs from all parties to question the PM on any subject
Politics of Scotland
Scotland is a country, in a political union with the rest of the United Kingdom. Having been directly governed by the UK Government since 1707, a system of devolution was established in 1999, after the Scottish people voted by a firm majority to re-establish a primary law making Scottish Parliament in a referendum held in 1997. Scotland entered into a political union with England in 1707, since has sent representatives to the Palace of Westminster, which succeeded the Parliament of England to become the British Parliament. 59 Members of Parliament represent Scottish constituencies at Westminster, issues such as the constitution, foreign affairs, social security, issues of medical ethics, fiscal and monetary policy are decided on a nationwide UK level. In 1999, a 129-member Scottish Parliament was established in Edinburgh. In the UK government, Scottish affairs are represented by the Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell MP; the Scottish Government is headed by a First Minister, the leader of the political party with the most support in the Scottish Parliament Nicola Sturgeon MSP.
The head of state in Scotland is the British monarch Queen Elizabeth II. There are six Members of the European Parliament elected by Scotland, as the UK is a member state of the European Union. Scotland can best be described as having a multi-party system. In the Scottish Parliament, the centre-left pro-independence Scottish National Party is the party which forms the devolved government. Opposition parties include: the Scottish Conservative Party, Scottish Labour Party, the Scottish Liberal Democrats, the Scottish Green Party. Elections are held once every five years, with 73 Members being elected to represent constituencies, the remaining 56 elected via a system of proportional representation. At Westminster, Scotland is represented by 35 MPs from the Scottish National Party, 13 from the Conservative Party, 7 MPs from the Labour Party and 4 from the Liberal Democrats. Today, the independence of Scotland from the United Kingdom remains a prominent political issue. On Thursday 18 September 2014, the Scottish electorate voted in a referendum on whether or not to become independent, opted to stay as part of the United Kingdom, with 55.3% voting to stay in the United Kingdom and 44.7% voting for independence.
The party with the largest number of seats in the Scottish Parliament is the Scottish National Party, which campaigns for Scottish independence. The current First Minister of Scotland is SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, who has led a government since November 2014; the previous First Minister, Alex Salmond, led the SNP to an overall majority victory in the May 2011 general election, lost in 2016 and now forms a minority government. Other parties represented in the parliament are the Labour Party, Conservative Party which form the official opposition, Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Green Party; the next Scottish Parliament election is due to be held in May 2021. Under devolution, Scotland is represented by 59 MPs in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom elected from territory-based Scottish constituencies, out of a total of 650 MPs in the House of Commons. A Secretary of State for Scotland, who prior to devolution headed the system of government in Scotland, sits in the Cabinet of the United Kingdom and is responsible for the limited number of powers the office retains since devolution, as well as relations with other Whitehall Ministers who have power over reserved matters.
The Scottish Parliament can refer devolved matters back to Westminster to be considered as part of United Kingdom-wide legislation by passing a Legislative Consent Motion — referred to as a Sewel Motion. This has been done on a number of occasions where it has been seen as either more efficient, or more politically expedient to have the legislation considered by Westminster; the Scotland Office is a department of the Government of the United Kingdom, responsible for reserved Scottish affairs. The current Secretary of State for Scotland is a Conservative; until 1999, Scottish peers were entitled to sit in the House of Lords. The main political debate in Scotland tends to revolve around attitudes to the constitutional question. Under the pressure of growing support for Scottish independence, a policy of devolution had been advocated by all three GB-wide parties to some degree during their history; this question dominated the Scottish political scene in the latter half of the twentieth century with Labour leader John Smith describing the revival of a Scottish parliament as the "settled will of the Scottish people".
Now that devolution has occurred, the main argument about Scotland's constitutional status is over whether the Scottish Parliament should accrue additional powers, or seek to obtain full independence. The long term question is: should the Scottish parliament continue to be a subsidiary assembly created and abolished by the constitutionally dominant and sovereign parliament of the United Kingdom or should it have an independent existence as of right, with full sovereign powers? To clarify these issues, the SNP-led Scottish Government published Choosing Scotland's Future, a consultation document directed to the electorate under the National Conv