Parliaments, Governments and Elected Officials

Parliaments, Governments and Elected Officials

Some of the issues that affect independent living are decided upon by national Government, some are decided by the Scottish Government and some are decided by Local Authorities. Here you will find some information on how to get to the right people, at the right time, on the right issue.


The Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Parliament opened in 1999. It is made up of 129 people called Members of the Scottish Parliament, or MSPs.
Most adults who live in Scotland can vote in an election to decide who their MSPs will be. Scottish Parliament elections are held every 4 years. Every person in Scotland has 8 MSPs who can speak for them. One MSP works for people in a constituency, or local area. The other 7 MSPs work for people in the region, or bigger area. The MSPs work together in Edinburgh, in the Scottish Parliament building, as well as in their own areas. Devolution is the delegation of power from a central government to local bodies. Scotland was granted devolution by the passing of the Scotland Act in 1998 which means that Scotland has a parliament with 'devolved' powers within the United Kingdom. Any powers which remain with the UK Parliament at Westminster are reserved. Reserved matters were set out in Schedule 5 of the Scotland Act. A basic breakdown is given below. Essentially the powers of the Scottish Parliament are set out by what it does not have legislative competence in rather than in what it can do.

  • Devolved powers: Matters such as education, health and prisons, which used to be dealt with by the Parliament at Westminster, are now decided in Scotland.
  • Reserved powers: Decisions (mostly about matters with a UK or international impact) are reserved and dealt with at Westminster

The Scottish Parliament can work on and set overall guidance for:

  • Health
  • Housing
  • Social work
  • Police and fire services
  • Transport
  • Education and training
  • Sport
  • Music, theatre and dance
  • Gaelic
  • Farming, forestry and fishing

The UK Parliament deals with:

  • Taxes
  • Defence (the army, navy and air force)
  • The benefits system
  • Gambling and the National Lottery

For more information, click here.


Contacting your MSP's

You can find information about contacting your MSP here.


UK Parliament

The UK Parliament examines what the UK Government is doing, makes new laws, holds the power to set taxes and debates the issues of the day (in Scotland the UK Parliament only decides on reserved issues). The House of Commons and House of Lords each play an important role in Parliament's work. Elections to the UK Parliament happen at the latest, every 5 years. Everyone has a MP who represents them.

For more information click here. You can find information about contacting your MP here.


Scottish Government

The devolved government for Scotland is responsible for most of the issues of day-to-day concern to the people of Scotland, including health, education, justice, rural affairs, and transport.

The Scottish Government was known as the Scottish Executive when it was established in 1999 following the first elections to the Scottish Parliament. The current administration was formed after elections in May 2007.

The Government's Purpose is to focus government and public services on creating a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth.

UK Government Public Services

One stop-shop for public serivces controlled by the UK Government, click here.

Very often things affect independent living are controlled by the local authority where you live.

Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA)

COSLA, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, is the representative voice of Scottish local government and also acts as the employers' association on behalf of all Scottish councils.

As a membership organisation, one of our highest priorities is to maintain and enhance our relationship with member Councils and the key principles, which underpin our activities recognise that the way we work is as important as what we do.

Local Authorities often have control over issues affecting independent living like housing in your area, social care and roads. For more information on Local Authorities, CoSLA and on contacting your local councillors, click here.

Disability Action Alliance

The DAA, of which ILiS is a member, brings together UK disabled people’s organisations with other organisations from the public, private and third sector. It aims to deliver actions which make a difference to disabled people’s lives.  You can join the Disability Action Alliance too at