Scottish Parliament Statistics: facts, figures and infographics

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Did you know that during the parliamentary year 2017-2018 there were:

  • 439 hours of plenary business in the Chamber
  • 234 questions selected for First Minister’s question time
  • 110 Members’ Business motions
  • 63 Ministerial Statements
  • 512 committee meetings
  • 1005 hours spent in committees
  • 17 Bills passed by the Parliament
  • 275 pieces of subordinate legislation laid before the Parliament
  • 261,834 visitors to the Parliament

Interested in knowing more about the work of the Scottish Parliament? Enjoy looking through facts and figures? Or are you undertaking research? You might want to look at the recently published Scottish Parliament Statistics 2017-2018 where you will find a wealth of facts and figures, which may show you the work of the Scottish Parliament in a whole new light.

Scottish Parliament Statistics 2017-2018 is the latest edition in the Scottish Parliament Statistics series compiled and published by SPICe. This annual publication provides an in-depth focus on the work of the Scottish Parliament during the parliamentary year. Compiled annually since 2000, the Scottish Parliament Statistics volumes provide an invaluable source of comparable parliamentary data.

What can I expect to find in the Scottish Parliament Statistics?

The statistical volume provides a wide range of parliamentary data, including information on:

  • elections
  • MSPs
  • plenary (chamber) business
  • committees
  • Bills
  • staff numbers
  • visitor figures.

The statistics in each volume generally cover the period of one parliamentary year, however some data covers all of the on-going session.

A parliamentary year is a period, normally 12 months, beginning on the date of the first meeting of the Parliament following a general election, and on each subsequent anniversary of that date within that session. For the current session the parliamentary year runs from the 12 May – 11 May.

To showcase examples of what can be created using the data in the Scottish Parliament Statistics, SPICe has produced five infographics.


Section 1 of the Scottish Parliament Statistics volume focuses on elections and MSPs. You might already know that during the parliamentary year 2017-2018:

  • one new constituency MSP was elected in a by-election
  • three new MSPs were appointed following the resignation of regional Members
  • making the total number of MSPs elected since the start of the parliamentary session 134.

Within two months of the date of their election, all Members must take an “oath” or “affirmation”.  You can find out more information on oaths and affirmations on the Parliament’s website. So, what about some lesser known facts:

  • the average age of MSPs in May 2018 was 51
  • 81 MSPs chose to take an oath while 53 chose to make an affirmation
  • 12 MSPs chose to repeat the oath or affirmation in another language.

SPICe_2019_StatsVolume_201718_Oaths and affirmation by party

SPICe_2019_StatsVolume_201718_Oaths and affirmation by language

Chamber and Committee Business

The Scottish Parliament sits for around 35 weeks every year. Meetings normally take place in the Chamber on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons and from late mornings on Thursdays. Committees also play a central part in the work of the Parliament. Most committees meet weekly or fortnightly, usually on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday mornings. The Scottish Parliament does not meet during recess periods. The dates of recesses are decided by the Parliament in a motion from the Parliamentary Bureau and, as far as possible, try to follow the dates of school holidays.

During the parliamentary year 2017-2018:

  • MSPs met in the Chamber on 107 days.
  • November had the most plenary meetings – 14.
  • March had the most hours spent in the Chamber – 57hrs 10 mins.
  • Plenary business lasted for a total of 439hrs 5mins.
  • There were 512 committee meetings.
  • November had the most committee meetings – 66.
  • March had the most hours spent in committee – 135hrs 45 mins.
  • Committees meet for a total of 1005hrs 10 mins.

SPICe_2019_StatsVolume_201718_Committee and chamber time

Chamber Business

The Scottish Parliament Statistics volume provides further analysis detailing how the time spent in sessions in the Chamber is divided between different types of business. The infographic ‘Division of Time in the Chamber 2017-2018’ provides a visual breakdown of the data contained in section 3.1 of the publication. It shows, for example, that in 2017-2018 the greatest proportion of time, 90hrs 25mins, was spent debating motions lodged by the Scottish Government covering a variety of topics.

SPICe_2019_StatsVolume_201718_Chamber businessCommittees

The committee time data in section 4.2 of Scottish Parliament Statistics 2017-2018, has been used to create a visual representation of the flow of business across the parliamentary year.

The infographic, below, is based on the total time spent in meetings, by committee, by month:

  • 19 committees meet during parliamentary year 2017-2018.
  • Committees met for a total of 1005hrs 10 mins.
  • The average length of a meeting was 1hr 26mins, based on the total for all committees.

Not all committees were operational for the whole year. No committees met for the whole of July or August, because of recess. While two private bill committees only met for part of the year: The Writers to the Signet Dependants’ Annuity Fund amendment (Scotland) Bill Committee (WSD) wasn’t established until June and ended in December 2017; and the Edinburgh Bakers’ Widows’ Fund Bill Committee (EBW) completed its work in November 2017, accounting for the marked difference in the work flow of these two committees.

SPICe_2019_StatsVolume_201718_Committee time timeline

[a list of the full committee names is available on the Committees’ home page]

Further Reading

All of the Scottish Parliament Statistics volumes from 2009-2010 to 2017-2018 are published on the Scottish Parliament website. Earlier volumes are available on request:

SPICe also produces a series of Fact Sheets which provide factual current and historical information on MSPs and Parliamentary Business:
Gwynneth Cowley
Enquiries Manager