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Scotland Act 1998

Section B10: Emergency Powers
Purpose and Effect

This Section reserves emergency powers.


This reservation is concerned with the circumstances in which unusual powers can be exercised for enabling effective rule in the event of a crisis. In practice this has often involved the deployment of the armed forces for example to provide essential services.

The main statutory provisions are set out in the Emergency Powers Act 1920.  This gives power for Her Majesty to declare a state of emergency and to make regulations by Order in Council for securing the essentials of life to the community e.g. for the preservation of peace, and for securing and regulating the distribution of food, water, fuel etc.

In addition servicemen may be employed under the royal prerogative in extraordinary circumstances to deal with particular crises.

Planning by the civil authorities for emergencies is not, however, caught by the reservation.

Details of Provisions

Legislative competence on all matters relating to emergency powers is reserved.  In particular this covers the circumstances in which such powers can be exercised, what the powers should be and any ancillary provision such as compensation for loss arising from the exercise of these powers.

Executive Devolution

The following functions have been made concurrently exercisable by a Minister of the Crown and the Scottish Ministers by the Scotland Act 1998 (Transfer of Functions to the Scottish Ministers etc.) Order 1999 (S.I. 1999/1750).

The Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994 (c.39), section 117(1), (2) and (5).

Section 117(1) and (2) - The function of the Secretary of State to give to a water and sewerage authority directions of a general or specific nature in the interests of national security or to mitigate a civil emergency

Section 117(5) - The function of the Secretary of State to notify a person that, in the interests of national security, anything done under the section should not be revealed

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