United Kingdom legislation
United Kingdom legislation derives from a number of different sources. The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body for the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories. Each of the three major jurisdictions of the United Kingdom (England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) also has its own laws and legal system.
Modern sources of legislation
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (commonly known as the UK Parliament, the British Parliament, the Westminster Parliament or "Westminster") is the supreme legislative body for the United Kingdom. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and its territories. Its head is the Sovereign of the United Kingdom (currently Queen Elizabeth II) and its seat is the Palace of Westminster in Westminster, London.
U.K. Legislation may take the form of Acts (passed directly by Parliament) or Statutory Instruments, made under the authority of an Act of Parliament by either a government minister or by the Queen-in-Council. The latter are generally subject either to parliamentary approval (affirmative procedure) or parliamentary disallowance (negative procedure). Prerogative instruments, made by the Sovereign under the royal prerogative are another source of U.K.-wide legislation..
The Scottish Parliament is the national, unicameral legislature of Scotland, located in the Holyrood area of the capital, Edinburgh. The Parliament, informally referred to as "Holyrood", is a democratically elected body comprising 129 members known as Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs).
The Scottish Parliament was convened by the Scotland Act 1998, which sets out its powers as a devolved legislature. The Act delineates the legislative competence of the Parliament – the areas in which it can make laws – by explicitly specifying powers that are "reserved" to the Parliament of the United Kingdom: all matters that are not explicitly reserved are automatically the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament. The British Parliament retains the ability to amend the terms of reference of the Scottish Parliament, and can extend or reduce the areas in which it can make laws. The first meeting of the new Parliament took place on 12 May 1999.
Scottish Statutory Instruments made by the Scottish Government are another source of legislation. As with Statutory Instruments made by the British government, these are generally subject to either approval or disallowance by the Scottish Parliament
National Assembly for Wales
The National Assembly for Wales has the power to make legislation in Wales. The Assembly was created by the Government of Wales Act 1998, which followed a referendum in 1997. The Assembly had no powers to initiate primary legislation until limited law-making powers were gained through the Government of Wales Act 2006. Its primary law-making powers were enhanced following a Yes vote in the referendum on 3 March 2011, making it possible for it to legislate in the 20 areas that are devolved without having to consult the UK parliament, nor the Secretary of State for Wales. The Assembly may also delegate authority to enact legislation through Welsh Statutory Instruments.
Northern Ireland Assembly
The Northern Ireland Assembly is the devolved legislature of Northern Ireland. It has power to legislate in a wide range of areas that are not explicitly reserved to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and to appoint the Northern Ireland Executive. It sits at Parliament Buildings at Stormont in Belfast. Legislation of the Assembly empowers the Northern Island Executive to issue Statutory Rules in a variety of areas.
Historical sources of legislation
- Parliament of England (13th century to 1707)
- Parliament of Scotland (13th century to 1707)
- Parliament of Ireland (13th century to 1800)
- Parliament of Great Britain (1707–1800)
- Parliament of Northern Ireland (1921–1972)
- Section 2 of the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927 (17 Geo. V c. 4)
- "Scottish Parliament Word Bank". Scottish Parliament. Archived from the original on 3 December 2005. Retrieved 14 November 2006.
- "Scotland Act 1998: Scottish Parliament Reserved Issues". Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI). Archived from the original on 19 May 2007. Retrieved 14 November 2006.
- Murkens, Jones & Keating (2002) pp11
- "Scottish Parliament Official Report – 12 May 1999". Scottish Parliament. Retrieved 5 November 2006.
- "Wales says Yes in referendum vote". BBC News. 4 March 2011.