Reserved matters

Reserved matters

:"For other meanings, see Reserved powers disambiguation page."In the United Kingdom reserved matters, also referred to as reserved powers, are those subjects over which power to legislate is retained by Westminster, as stated by the Scotland Act 1998, Northern Ireland Act 1998 or Government of Wales Act 1998.

In Scotland, matters are explicitly reserved in the Scotland Act with all other matters implicitly devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

In Northern Ireland, the powers of the Northern Ireland Assembly (when it is not suspended) do not cover reserved matters or excepted matters. In theory, the distinction is that reserved matters might be devolved at a later date, but that excepted matters will not be considered for further devolution. In practice the difference is minor as changes to either list are within the powers of the Westminster Parliament.

In Wales, by contrast, certain matters are explicitly devolved to the National Assembly for Wales and the remainder implicitly reserved.


The Scottish Parliament was created by the Scotland Act 1998 of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (Westminster Parliament). This act sets out the matters still dealt with at Westminster, referred to as "reserved matters", including defence, international relations, fiscal and economic policy, drugs law, broadcasting and some others. The competence of the Scottish Parliament to legislate ("legislative competence") on a matter is largely determined by whether it is reserved or not. [Schedule 5 - Reserved Matters: cite web| title=Scotland Act 1998 | url= |publisher=UK Statute Law Database| accessdate=2007-11-26]

Anything "not" listed as a specific reserved matter in the Scotland Act is automatically devolved to Scotland, including health, education, local government, Scots Law and all other issues. This is one of the key differences between the successful Scotland Act 1998 and the failed Scotland Act 1978.

List of reserved matters

The following is a list of reserved matters: []

* constitutional matters
* UK foreign policy
* UK defence and national security
* fiscal and economic policy
* immigration and nationality
* common markets
* trade and industry, including competition and customer protection
* drugs law
* broadcasting
* elections and the registration and funding of political parties
* some aspects of transport, including aviation, railways, transport safety and regulation
* employment legislation and health and safety
* social security
* gambling and the National Lottery
* data protection
* firearms, extradition and emergency powers
* medicines, abortion, human fertilisation and embryology, genetics, xenotransplantation and vivisection
* equal opportunities
* treason, treason felony and misprision of treason
* regulation of time zones and Summer Time [ [ History of legal time in Britain] ]
* Sea fishing: Regulation of sea fishing outside the Scottish zone (except in relation to Scottish fishing boats).
* weights and measures: Units and standards of weight and measurement. Regulation of trade so far as involving weighing, measuring and quantities

Executive powers

The executive powers of Ministers of the Scottish Government generally follows the same boundaries as the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament – if the Parliament can legislate about a matter, then any Ministerial powers under statute or the prerogative are exercised by the Scottish Ministers. However it is also possible for the Scottish Ministers to be given powers in relation to reserved matters, a process known as executive devolution.

The reserved matters continue to be controversial in some quarters, and there are certain conflicts/anomalies, for example, while the funding of Scottish Gaelic television is controlled by the Scottish Government, broadcasting is a reserved matter, and while energy is a reserved matter, planning permission for power stations is devolved.


External links

* [ Scotland Act 1998]
* [ Government of Wales Act 1998]
** [ The New Government of Wales Act 2006]
* [ Northern Ireland Act 1998]

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