Government of Scotland

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This article is about the historic Government of Scotland as it existed before 1707. For the modern post-devolutionary executive branch, see Scottish Government.

Since 1999, executive powers for non-reserved matters of the government of Scotland rests in the hand of the Scottish Government, whereas legislative powers for non-reserved matters are within the competence of the Scottish Parliament.

The High Court of Justiciary has always been the supreme court for criminal cases even before devolution in 1999, whereas for civil cases the supreme court is the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom since 2009, replacing the previous function of the Law Lords.


Prior to 1707, the Kingdom of Scotland was a sovereign state, governed by the monarch, the privy council, and the parliament. As a result of the Treaty of Union agreed in 1706, the Parliaments of England and Scotland each passed Acts of Union to create the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Between 1707 and 1999, Her Majesty's Government in London was the sole government with authority over Scotland. However, the existence of distinct Scottish institutions such as its own educational and legal system led to a degree of administrative separation in the form of the Scottish Office, dubbed administrative devolution. In 1999, following the passage of the Scotland Act 1998, the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Executive were established with devolved powers.

In August 2007, the incoming SNP administration decided to rename the Scottish Executive 'the Scottish Government'[1] and this terminology has now been generally adopted by the opposition political parties[2][3][4] and the media. The Scotland Act 2012 modified the Scotland Act to rename the Scottish Executive to Scottish Government in law.


  1. ^ Scottish Executive renames itself BBC News, 3 September 2007
  2. ^ Government must protect ferry routes, 9 September 2008
  3. ^ David Mundell at Conference, accessed 29 October 2008
  4. ^ SNP's CARBON TARGETS - NOTHING BUT HOT AIR, accessed 29 October 2008

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