Northern Ireland Scotland and Wales Scotland elects 72 of the 651
members of the Commons. The Lords has limited power. Most of its members
are nobles who inherit their seats. For more information on the British
government see United Kingdom (Government).
The Scottish Office. Scotland’s chief minister is the secretary of state
for Scotland. This official is appointed by the prime minister and is a
member of the Cabinet.
The secretary’s office called the Scottish Office, is based in Edinburgh
with an additional office in London. The Scottish Office has five main
departments. The Scottish Office Agriculture and Fisheries Department
deals with Scotland’s agricultural and fishing industries. The Scottish
Office Industry Department deals with industrial and economic
development. The Scottish Office Environment Department is concerned
with such fields as environmental protection housing and public
utilities. The Scottish Office Education Department supervises public
education. The Scottish Office Home and Health Department is responsible
for criminal justice, police and fire protection prisons and public
health. Each department of the Scottish Office is run by a secretary.
Devolution. Most Scots believe that Scotland should have greater control
over its own affair's and they support some amount of devolution (the
granting of self-government). However the amount of self-government
desired differs among Scots Many want Scotland to be come an independent
country within the European community, an economic organization of
European nations. Many others believe that Scotland should have its own
legislative assembly while remaining a part of the United Kingdom. The
Scottish National Party favors independence. The Labour Party and the
Social and Liberal Democratic Party, which represent more than three
fourths of the Scottish members of Parliament, favor devolution within
the United Kingdom. The Conservative Party opposes independence or a
large degree of devolution.
Population. Scotland has a population of about 5 million. About three
fourths of the people live in the lowlands of central Scotland a region
that makes up only about a sixth of Scotland s mainland. The rugged
Highlands and the hilly uplands of southern Scotland are more sparsely
populated. The Highlands, which cover about two-thirds of the Scottish
mainland, have some of the most thinly populated areas in Scotland. Less
than 2 percent of the people live in Scotland s three island authority
areas of Orkney, Shetland, and the Western Isles.
One of Scotland’s major problems has been emigration. Particularly in
the 1960’s thousands of people left Scotland because of limited job
opportunities. But new industries, such as the production of oil from
the North Sea, have helped provide more jobs.
Ancestry. Most Scottish people are descended from peoples who came to
Scotland thousands of years ago. There groups included the Celts,
Scandinavians and a Celtic tribe from Ireland called the Scots. Each
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