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The Scottish Government ( ), legally the Scottish Executive, is the executive arm of the devolved government of Scotlandmarker. It was established in 1999 as the Scottish Executive, from the extant Scottish Office, and the term Scottish Executive remains its legal name under section 44 of the Scotland Act 1998. Following the 2007 Scottish Parliament election, the term Executive was replaced by the term Government by the new Scottish National Party administration. This terminology has been adopted by all of the main Scottish political parties, by the Scottish media, and by the United Kingdom's other devolved administrations. The UK Government, other UK politicians and the UK media also now mainly use the term Government when referring to the Scottish Administration.

Executive arm of government

The Scottish Government is responsible in Scotland for all issues that are not explicitly reserved to the United Kingdom Parliamentmarker at Westminstermarker by the Scotland Act; including NHS Scotland, education, justice, rural affairs, and transport. It managed an annual budget of more than £27 billion in the financial year 2005-2006, £30 billion in 2007-2008.

The government is led by the First Minister, assisted by various Cabinet Secretaries (Ministers) with individual portfolio and remits. The Scottish Parliamentmarker nominates a Member to be appointed as First Minister by the Queen. The First Minister then appoints his Ministers (now known as Cabinet Secretaries) and junior Ministers, subject to approval by the Parliament. The First Minister, the Ministers (but not junior ministers), the Lord Advocate and Solicitor General are the Members of the Scottish Executive, as set out in the Scotland Act 1998. They are collectively known as the "Scottish Ministers".

Similar to the United Kingdom government, there is no division between the executive and the legislative arms of government, with the members of the Scottish Government being chosen from amongst the Members of the Scottish Parliament (except for the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General, who need not be MSPs). Senior Ministers (i.e the First Minister and Cabinet Secretaries) of the Scottish Government are assisted by a number of junior ministers, also chosen from amongst the Members of the Parliament. The members of the government have substantial influence over legislation in Scotland, putting forward the majority of successful Bills.

The Scottish Government is currently formed by the Scottish National Party who are the largest party in the Scottish Parliamentmarker, although they do not possess an overall majority. The current First Minister is Alex Salmond.


The structure of the ministerial team proposed by the Scottish National Party (SNP) after their election victory in May 2007 differs from the previous administration. The nomenclature of Cabinet Secretary has been introduced. The Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers are:

Portfolio Minister
First Minister Alex Salmond
Deputy First Minister
Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing
Nicola Sturgeon
Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth John Swinney
Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Mike Russell
Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment Richard Lochhead
Minister for Parliamentary Business Bruce Crawford
Minister for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop
Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism Jim Mather
Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Stewart Stevenson
Minister for Schools and Skills Keith Brown
Minister for Children and Early Years Adam Ingram
Minister for Sport and Public Health Shona Robison
Minister for Housing and Communities Alex Neil
Minister for Community Safety Fergus Ewing
Minister for Environment Roseanna Cunningham
Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini
Solicitor General for Scotland Frank Mulholland

Ministers must follow the Scottish Ministerial Code, a code of conduct and guidance on procedures.


The Scottish Cabinet normally meets weekly on Tuesday afternoons in St. Andrew's Housemarker, in Edinburghmarker. Cabinet used to meet in Bute Housemarker, the official residence of the First Minister, but it now meets within St. Andrew's Housemarker (SAH), as most Ministers' Private Offices are within this office building anyway. The Cabinet consists of the Scottish Ministers, excluding the Law Officers (the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General). The Lord Advocate attends meetings of the Cabinet only when requested by the First Minister, and she is not formally a member.

The Cabinet is supported by the Cabinet Secretariat, which is based at St Andrew's Housemarker.

There are two sub-committees of Cabinet:

  • Cabinet Sub-Committee on Legislation
    • Membership: the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, the Minister for Parliamentary Business, and the Lord Advocate.
  • Scottish Government Resilience Room (SGoRR) Cabinet Sub-Committee
    • Membership: Cabinet Secretary for Justice (Chair), the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment and the Lord Advocate.


The headquarters building of the Scottish Government is St. Andrew's Housemarker, on Calton Hillmarker in Edinburghmarker. Some other Government departments are based at Victoria Quaymarker in Leithmarker, Pentland House in Gorgiemarker and Saughton House on Broomhouse Drive. The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service has its offices at Chambers Streetmarker in central Edinburgh.

There are numerous other Edinburgh properties occupied by the Scottish Government. Group Security is based in the old Governor's House on the site of the former Calton Gaol, next door to St Andrew's House on Regent Road. The Government Car Service for Scotland also has its Edinburgh offices on Bonnington Road, in Leith. Other small offices are scattered around central Edinburgh, including Bute House, the official residence of the First Minister.

New St Andrew's House, behind Edinburgh's St. James' Centre, was once a large Scottish Office building, which was occupied from 1973 until 1997, when the last remaining staff moved to Victoria Quay. Asbestos was found to be present in the walls of this building and it has lain empty for the past decade.

The Enterprise, Transport and Lifelong Learning Department is located in central Glasgowmarker, and its European Union representative office is located at Rond-Point Robert Schuman in Brusselsmarker, Belgiummarker. The Scottish Government also maintains an office within the British Embassy in Washington, DC.

Several executive agencies also form part of the government, and the accountable officers of these agencies report to Scottish Ministers.

Home Civil Service in Scotland

The term Scottish Government also denotes the civil service supporting Scottish Ministers. According to the most recent (2006) reports, there are 15,263 civil servants working in core Scottish Government departments and agencies. The civil service is a matter reserved to the United Kingdom Parliamentmarker (rather than devolved to Holyroodmarker): Scottish Government civil servants work within the rules and customs of the United Kingdom civil service, but "owe their loyalty to the devolved administration rather than the UK government".

Other civil servants based in Scotland carry out functions which are not the responsibility of the Scottish Government, for example those in the Ministry of Defence.

Until 2007, the (then) Scottish Executive was made up of nine Departments, as set out below.

In 2007, the separate Departments were abolished and the work is now carried out by a collection of Directorates, each headed by a Director-General (DG) (see Civil Service grading schemes). The Permanent Secretary and Directors-General (formerly the Department heads) now form a Strategic Board, responsible for overseeing the achievement of the five strategic objectives.

There are also 17 Executive Agencies established by Ministers as part of government departments, or as departments in their own right, to carry out a discrete area of work. These include the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency, Scottish Prison Service and Transport Scotland. Agencies are staffed by civil servants.

Two non-Ministerial departments answer directly to Parliament rather than to Ministers:

The Scottish Government is also responsible for a large number of non-departmental public bodies. These include executive bodies (eg. Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Qualifications Authority and sportscotland); advisory bodies (eg. the General Teaching Council for Scotland, the Scottish Industrial Development Advisory Board and the Scottish Law Commission); tribunals (eg. the Children’s Panel); and nationalised industries (eg. Scottish Water). These are staffed by public servants, rather than civil servants.

Strategic objectives

In 2007, the Scottish Ministers set for themselves an overall purpose-

"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."

This overall purpose is supported by five strategic objectives-

Wealthier and Fairer : Enable businesses and people to increase their wealth and more people to share fairly in that wealth.

Healthier : Help people to sustain and improve their health, especially in disadvantaged communities, ensuring better, local and faster access to health care.

Safer and Stronger : Help local communities to flourish, becoming stronger, safer place to live, offering improved opportunities and a better quality of life.

Smarter : Expand opportunities for Scots to succeed from nurture through to life long learning ensuring higher and more widely shared achievements.

Greener : Improve Scotland's natural and built environment and the sustainable use and enjoyment of it.

Permanent Secretary

The Permanent Secretary supports the First Minister and the Cabinet of Scottish Ministers. The current incumbent is Sir John Elvidge who took over from Sir Muir Russell in 2003. John Elvidge is the most senior civil servant in Scotland and heads the Strategic Board of the Scottish Executive.

The Permanent Secretary is answerable to the most senior civil servant in the UK, the Cabinet Secretary, for his professional conduct.

2007 rebranding

In January 2001, the then First Minister Henry McLeish suggested changing the official name of the executive arm from "Scottish Executive" to "Scottish Government". The reaction from the UK Government and from some Labour Party members and Scottish Labour MPs was hostile. This reaction was in contrast to a 2001 public survey by then-Labour chief whip Tom McCabe, which showed that only 29% of the Scottish public wanted the title Scottish Executive to remain.

Scottish politicians, including the Labour First Minister, had often referred to the Executive as the government and this trend increased following the 2007 election, when politicians from throughout the political spectrum referred to the new administration as the Scottish government. On 2 September 2007, the government announced that the Scottish Executive was to be re-branded as the Scottish Government. The renaming was decided unilaterally by the minority government; as a consequence, the SNP was criticised by the three Unionist opposition parties for acting without allowing for parliamentary scrutiny, debate or approval of their plan. The opposition parties were not against the name change itself, only the unilateral way in which the SNP went about the rebranding exercise. The rebranding process has been reported to carry a £100,000 cost.

"Scottish Executive" remains the legal name according to the wording of the Scotland Act 1998. Neither the Scottish Executive nor the Scottish Parliament is able to change the legal name, as this would require Westminstermarker to pass an amendment to the Scotland Act. As such, the UK Government continued to refer to the body as the Scottish Executive although recently it appears to have adopted the new term. [35676] The official Gaelic title, "Riaghaltas na h-Alba" has always meant "Government of Scotland".

At the same time that the Scottish Government began to use its new name, a new logo was adopted. The earlier version featured the old name and a version of the Royal Arms for Scotland, but without the motto, the helm, the mantling, the crest, the war-cry above the crest, or the flags of Scotland and England carried by the supporters. In the rendering used, both supporters appeared to be crowned with the Crown of Scotland, whereas in the Royal Arms, the Scottish unicorn is usually shown crowned with the Scottish Crown, and the English lion with St. Edward's Crown. In the September 2007 rebranding, this depiction of the Royal Arms was replaced by one of the Flag of Scotland.

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