The glossary provides definitions for parliamentary terms to help you understand the Parliament and how it works.  The terms are arranged alphabetically so select a letter to find the term you would like to have explained.


daily business list

The agenda of business for the Parliament on a particular day, published in Section A of the Business Bulletin.


1 July 1999. The principal appointed day for the implementation of key provisions of the Scotland Act 1998.


Discussions by MSPs, usually based on a motion.

Debating Chamber

The place for meetings of the Parliament.

Decision Time

The period at the end of a day’s business in the Parliament when decisions are taken on most of the questions before it.

declarable interest

An interest which must be declared in relevant proceedings of the Parliament.

declaration of interests

See declarable interest.

delegated legislation

See subordinate legislation.

Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee

A mandatory committee of the Parliament, of 7 members, the remit of which is to consider and report on the following (and any additional matter added under Rule 6.1.5A)—

(a) any—

(i) subordinate legislation laid before the Parliament or requiring the consent of the Parliament under section 9 of the Public Bodies Act 2011;

(ii) [deleted]

(iii) pension or grants motion as described in Rule 8.11A.1; and, in particular, to determine whether the attention of the Parliament should be drawn to any of the matters mentioned in Rule 10.3.1;

(b) proposed powers to make subordinate legislation in particular Bills or other proposed legislation;

(c) general questions relating to powers to make subordinate legislation;

(d) whether any proposed delegated powers in particular Bills or other legislation should be expressed as a power to make subordinate legislation;

(e) any failure to lay an instrument in accordance with section 28(2), 30(2) or 31 of the 2010 Act;

(f) proposed changes to the procedure to which subordinate legislation laid before the Parliament is subject;

(g) any Scottish Law Commission Bill as defined in Rule 9.17A.1;

(h) any draft proposal for a Scottish Law Commission Bill as defined in that Rule; and

(i) any Consolidation Bill as defined in Rule 9.18.1 referred to it in accordance with Rule 9.18.3.

Name changed from Subordinate Legislation Committee to Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee on 5 June 2013. The committee must be established within 42 sitting days of a Scottish Parliament election.

Department for Constitutional Affairs

The department responsible for the overall management of relations between the UK Government and the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. As a result of the changes announced by the Prime Minister on 12 June 2003, the Scotland Office is now part of the Department for Constitutional Affairs. More information on the work of the DCA in relation to devolution can be found on its website (

deputy convener

A member of a committee who can carry out the functions of that committee’s convener as required.

Deputy First Minister

A non-statutory term for the Cabinet Minister who is deputy to the First Minister.

Deputy Minister

A non-statutory term for a junior Scottish Minister appointed by the First Minister.

Deputy Presiding Officers (DPOs)

The Presiding Officer’s two deputies, who can also preside at the Parliament’s meetings and undertake other functions of the Presiding Officer. DPOs can participate in proceedings and can vote on the same basis as other MSPs when not chairing a meeting.


The process of decentralising the governance of Scotland, within the UK, from the central authorities (Westminster and Whitehall) to a Scottish Parliament and Executive. Similar schemes have been implemented for Northern Ireland and for Wales.

devolution guidance notes (DGNs)

A series of advice notes from the UK Government on, for example, how the UK and devolved administrations inter-relate.

devolution issues

The term used in schedule 6 to the Scotland Act 1998 to describe particular kinds of legal issues arising from devolution.

devolved competence

The remit of the Scottish Ministers, which, very broadly, is the same as the Parliament’s legislative competence.

devolved matters

Matters for which the Scottish Parliament and/or the Scottish Executive have responsibility.

disability allowance

Under the members' allowances scheme, an allowance up to a specified limit per session which can be awarded by the SPCB to an MSP whose ability to undertake his or her role is impaired by disability. It is to be used in any way the SPCB decides is helpful to the MSP in undertaking that role. The SPCB may also make an award under this allowance to a member to meet costs the member may incur making reasonable adjustments to his or her local office to accommodate an employee who has a disability. This may include funds to facilitate access for disabled members of the public; provide equipment or parking spaces for disabled people; facilitate meetings for disabled people by hiring alternative premises; and contrating sign language interpreters for meetings with members of the public.


The official term for the end of a session.


The means for deciding a question other than by consensus.


Standing orders provide for the laying before, and publication by the Parliament of any relevant document, defined as ‘anything in which information is recorded in any form’.

draft budget

Proposals presented by Scottish Ministers to the Parliament setting out detailed expenditure plans for the next financial year.

dual mandate

The term used to describe those MSPs who, in addition to their seat in the Scottish Parliament, also hold a seat in either the House of Commons (MPs), House of Lords (Peers) or represent a ward in their local council (councillors).

This website is using cookies.
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we’ll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on this website.