The Scottish Parliament is a devolved legislative body in Scotland. It was established by the Scotland Act, 1998. The Scottish Parliament can pass laws on devolved matters, which include education, health and housing and can raise or lower the basic rate of income tax by up to three pence in the pound. It cannot legislate on issues which effect the whole of the United Kingdom. These issues, like foreign affairs, defence and social security, are known as reserved matters. They are "reserved" for the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
As the devolving power, the Parliament of the United Kingdom at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster could make laws that override the acts passed by the Scottish Parliament. However, such an event is considered unlikely as it could lead to a serious political crisis.
The Scottish Parliament is made up of 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs). One of the 129 MSPs is elected by the others to serve as the Presiding Officer. Two MSPs are elected as Deputy Presiding Officers. The first elections to the Scottish Parliament took place on May 6, 1999.
While education, health and housing are the most crucial devolved matters, according to the "How the Scottish Parliament Works" leaflet on the official website of the Scottish Parliament the list includes: agriculture, forestry and fishing; education and training; environment; Gaelic; health; housing; law and home affairs; local government; natural and built heritage; planning; police and fire services; social work; sport and the arts; statistics and public records; tourism and economic development; transport.