Does Devolution Make a Difference? Legislative Output and Policy Divergence in Scotland

Michael Keating, Linda Stevenson, Paul Cairney, Katherine Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Devolution provides large scope for Scotland to make its own policy. Primary legislation is one measure of this. Scottish legislation before devolution tended to replicate measures for the rest of the United Kingdom, with differences of style. Scottish legislation in the first four-year term of the Parliament shows a big increase in output. There is an autonomous sphere, in which Scotland has gone its own way without reference to the rest of the UK. In other areas, there is evidence of joint or parallel policy-making, with Scottish legislation meeting the same goals by different means. Finally there is a sphere in which Scottish legislation is essentially the same as that in England and Wales. Sewel motions have not been used to impose policy uniformity on Scotland. There is evidence that devolution has shifted influence both vertically, between the UK and Scottish levels, and horizontally, within a Scottish legislative system that has been opened up.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-139
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Legislative Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Bibliographical note

The study forms part of a larger project on devolution and policy divergence in the United Kingdom, taking in a variety of measures including expenditure patterns and case studies of specific areas. It is funded by the ESRC programme on Devolution and Constitutional Change.


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