Since September 2004 the official home of the Scottish Parliament has been a new Scottish Parliament Building, in the Holyrood area of Edinburgh. Designed by Catalan architect Enric Miralles, some of the principal features of the complex include leaf-shaped buildings and a grass-roofed branch merging into adjacent parkland and gabion walls formed from the stones of previous buildings. Throughout the building there are many repeated motifs such as shapes based on Raeburn's Skating Minister. Stepped gables, and the upturned boat skylights of the Garden Lobby complete the unique architecture. The Queen opened the new building on 9 October 2004.
The Scottish Parliament (Scottish Gaelic: Pàrlamaid na h-Alba; Scots: Scots Pairlament) is the national unicameral legislature of Scotland, in the Holyrood area of the capital Edinburgh. The Parliament, which is sometimes informally referred to as "Holyrood" (cf. "Westminster"), is a democratically elected body comprised of 129 members who are known as Members of the Scottish Parliament or MSPs. Members are elected for 4 year terms under the proportional representation system. As a result, 73 MSPs represent individual geographical constituencies elected by the plurality (first past the post) system, with a further 56 returned from eight additional member regions, each electing seven MSPs.
The original Parliament of Scotland (or "Estates of Scotland") was the national legislature of the independent Kingdom of Scotland and existed from the early thirteenth century until the Kingdom of Scotland merged with the Kingdom of England under the Acts of Union 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. As a consequence, the Parliament of Scotland merged with Parliament of England, to form the Parliament of Great Britain, which sat at Westminster in London.
Following a referendum in 1997 where the Scottish people gave their consent, the current parliament was established by the Scotland Act 1998 which sets out its powers as a devolved legislature. The Act delineated 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 UK 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.
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