The debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament has seating arranged in a hemicycle, which reflects the desire to encourage consensus amongst elected members. There are 131 seats in the debating chamber. Of the total 131 seats, 129 are occupied by the Parliament's elected MSPs and 2 are seats for the Scottish Law Officers - the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General for Scotland, who are not elected members of the Parliament but are members of the Scottish Government. As such the Law Officers may attend and speak in the plenary meetings of the Parliament but, as they are not elected MSPs, cannot vote. Members are able to sit anywhere in the debating chamber, but typically sit in their party groupings. The First Minister, Scottish cabinet ministers and Law officers sit in the front row, in the middle section of the chamber. The largest party in the Parliament sits in the middle of the semicircle, with opposing parties on either side. The Presiding Officer, parliamentary clerks and officials sit opposite members at the front of the debating chamber.
In front of the Presiding Officers' desk is the parliamentary mace, which is made from silver and inlaid with gold panned from Scottish rivers and inscribed with the words: Wisdom, Compassion, Justice and Integrity. The words There shall be a Scottish Parliament, which are the first words of the Scotland Act, are inscribed around the head of the mace, which has a formal ceremonial role in the meetings of Parliament, reinforcing the authority of the Parliament in its ability to make laws. Presented to the Scottish Parliament by the Queen upon its official opening in July 1999, the mace is displayed in a glass case suspended from the lid. At the beginning of each sitting in the chamber, the lid of the case is rotated so that the mace is above the glass, to symbolise that a full meeting of the Parliament is taking place.
Read more about this topic: Scottish Parliament
Famous quotes containing the word chamber:
“Another day. Deliberations are recessed
In an iron-blue chamber of that afternoon
On which we wore things and looked well at
A slab of business rising behind the stars.”
—John Ashbery (b. 1927)