The Queen In Scotland

“Since 1999 Scotland has had two Parliaments: one in Edinburgh for devolved, domestic matters, and the other at Westminster for UK-wide issues. Scotland had its own Parliament until the Act of Union of 1707, when the Parliament in London took responsibility for legislation in Scotland. In a referendum on 11 September 1997, a majority of the Scottish public voted in favour of a Scottish Parliament. The first session was held on 12 May 1999 and the Scottish Parliament was officially opened by The Queen on 1 July 1999 in its temporary building on the Mound in Edinburgh. The new Scottish Parliament building was formally opened by The Queen on 9 October 2004. The building is sited opposite the Palace of Holyroodhouse and The Queen’s Gallery in Edinburgh. With 129 members (including the Presiding Officer) elected every four years, the Scottish Parliament can introduce primary legislation and is responsible for a portfolio which includes education, health, law, environment, economic development, local government, housing and police. It also has the power to vary the basic rate of income tax by up to three pence in the pound. Under legislation which established the Scottish Parliament, Members of the Scottish Parliament take the oath of allegiance to the Crown. The Queen also receives a weekly report from the Scottish Parliament on its business, given its specific legislative role. The Queen appoints the Scottish First Minister and has regular audiences with him or her to keep up to date with Scottish affairs.

The Queen In Wales

“A referendum in 1997 saw the public vote in favour of a National Assembly for Wales. The first elections were held on 6 May 1999, and elections are held every four years. The Assembly was officially opened on 26 May 1999 in Cardiff, a ceremony in which The Queen and The Prince of Wales played prominent roles. Both The Queen and The Prince of Wales spoke at the opening ceremony in the temporary Assembly building. During the ceremony The Queen symbolically signed a document on which was written the opening words of the Government of Wales Act. On 1 March 2006, The Queen opened the permanent home for the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff. The Welsh Assembly has 60 members (including the Presiding Officer). It can introduce only secondary legislation, covering areas including legislation, health, training, environment, housing, tourism and agriculture. It has no powers to alter income tax, but it does allocate the funds made available to Wales from the Treasury of the UK. Wales remains within the framework of the United Kingdom, and laws passed in Parliament in Westminster still apply to Wales. The Government of Wales Act 2006, which came into force in May 2007, assigned to The Queen new ceremonial functions of formally appointing Welsh ministers and granting Royal Assent to Acts of the Assembly. In addition, the Assembly staff are members of Her Majesty’s Home Civil Service. The Queen holds audiences from time to time with the First Minister to keep abreast of business in Wales. However, the formal advice on which Her Majesty acts in relation to Wales is provided by her UK ministers.

The Queen In Northern Ireland

“The Northern Ireland Assembly was established as part of the Good Friday Agreement of 10 April 1998 as the prime source of authority for all devolved responsibilities. A total of 108 members were elected to the Assembly on 25 June 1998 by Proportional Representation (Single Transferable Vote) from the existing 18 Westminster constituencies. The Assembly was given full legislative and executive authority in respect of those matters previously within the remit of six Northern Ireland government departments: the Departments of Agriculture, Economic Development, Education, Environment, Finance and Personnel, and Health and Social Services. The Queen met members of the Assembly when she visited the Assembly building at Stormont as part of her Golden Jubilee tour of the United Kingdom in 2002, and again in 2005.