The Scottish Constitution

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This chapter is about the Scottish constitution following devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in 1999. Like the constitutions of the other devolved nations, and the constituent polities of many federal and regional states, the Scottish constitution is what is commonly referred to as a ‘subnational constitution’, a description which should not be taken to imply that Scotland is anything less than a nation. It is also a constitution in the ‘unwritten’ or, more accurately, uncodified Westminster tradition - a small-c constitution rather than a capital-C Constitution (King 2007: 5). Rather than being set out in ‘a comprehensive written statement called a constitution’ (Ontario (AG) v Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union 1987: 37, Beetz J), it is to be found in a mixture of statutes - the most important of which is the Scotland Act 1998, which established the legislative and executive institutions of devolved government - judicial decisions, constitutional conventions, i.e. non-legal rules of political behaviour, and soft law instruments. After examining the constitution’s main features, as derived from these sources, the chapter turns to the attempts that were made to entrench the devolution settlement on which the constitution is based following the No vote in the 2014 independence referendum, and the ‘interim constitution’ that would have replaced it had Scotland voted Yes. The chapter begins with Scotland’s constitutional arrangements as they stood before devolution.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Scottish Politics
EditorsMichael Keating, Craig McAngus
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780198825098
Publication statusPublished - May 2020

Publication series

NameOxford Handbook
PublisherOxford University Press


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