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The Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Parliament came into being on 1 July 1999. Although based on the Finnish system, it is broadly comparable to Westminster.

However, there are several key differences, all of which are designed to make proceedings faster and more informal and to make Members of Scottish Parliament more accessible.

Perhaps the most noticeable difference is the absence of a second chamber which, as ICE Scottish executive secretary Wylie Cunningham explains, means that decisions can be made more quickly and with less procedural bureaucracy. Instead, the committee system for scrutinising legislation holds more power and committees benefit from not always being chaired by the ruling party.

The ICE's Vision 2000 document sets out ten key issues devolved to the Scottish parliament, and Cunningham is quick to point out that civil engineering plays a major role in at least seven of them.

Although he accepts the devolution process has not been perfect Cunningham feels sensible decisions are now being taken by the new parliament.

'Mistakes may have been made, ' he says. 'But we've got it, so we must make it work.'

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