Page last updated at 17:00 GMT, Wednesday, 28 October 2009
Guide to the Scottish Parliament

There are 129 MSPs elected to the Scottish Parliament. As well as their party allegiance, each must work for the Parliament and, of course, for their constituency or region.

And if an MSP is part of the Scottish Government, he or she may well have ministerial responsibilities as well.

MSPs spend their time in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. It is on these days that full sessions in the main chamber take place, like First Minister's Questions on a Thursday lunchtime.

MSP salaries
MSP: £57,521
Junior Minister: £27,077+ MSP salary £57,521 = £84,598
Cabinet secretary: £43,227 + MSP salary 57,521 = £100,748
First Minister: £83,326 + £57,521 = £140,847
Scottish Government ministers agreed to a pay freeze on their MSP and ministerial salaries

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings, MSPs knuckle down to the vital work of the committees.

Many would argue that the real business of MSPs gets done in one of these cross-party committees, which range from justice and education committees to the petitions and sub-legislative committees.

Most members sit on at least one committee, where they scrutinise, alter and introduce bills and hold the Scottish Government to account.

On Friday, MSPs will generally return to their constituencies and regions, ready to take on what some would argue is the most important part of their job - meeting the public.

How are MSPs elected?
73 members are elected to represent individual constituencies in the traditional first past-the-post-system from the constituency list
56 members are elected from eight electoral regions via the Additional Member System (AMS) from the regional list
Seven members are elected for each region using the Additional Member System (AMS)
AMS is a form of proportional representation
Voters must choose from a party list
Regional top-up seats are allocated using a formula known as the d'Hondt method

They will hold surgeries where constituents can bring their problems and questions, which the MSPs will try to address.

This allows them to get to grips with the local issues facing their electorate and to ensure they fairly represent them.

MSPs can take on a constituent's problem in one of a number of ways at Holyrood. They can contact a government minister, ask a Parliamentary question or start a debate, introduce a Members' Bill or propose an amendment to a bill.

They may also advise the individual to contact the Petitions Committee directly or attend the relevant committee in the audience. The Parliament takes great pride in its transparency and accessibility and most MSPs see both as vital to their role.

Just like MPs in Westminster, MSPs are required to register and declare the details of their financial interests.

MSPs must also register any outside influences which may have a bearing on their decisions.

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