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A section 30 Order is a type of subordinate or secondary legislation which is made under the Scotland Act 1998. It can be used to increase or restrict – temporarily or permanently – the Scottish Parliament’s legislative authority. It does this by altering the list of “reserved powers” set out in Schedule 5, and/or the protections against modification set out in Schedule 4 of that Act.

Such Orders have been used several times since 1999. The most high-profile example was the Scotland Act 1998 (Modification of Schedule 5) Order 2013, which temporarily devolved authority to legislate for a Scottish independence referendum. This took place on 18 September 2014.

Section 30 Orders can be initiated either by the Scottish or UK Governments but require approval by the House of Commons, House of Lords and the Scottish Parliament before becoming law. There are equivalent provisions in the Government of Wales Act 2006 and Northern Ireland Act 1998.

In March 2017, the Scottish Government requested a section 30 Order in order to legislate for a second independence referendum but the UK Government refused. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon renewed her request during 2019, as the Scottish Parliament considered what became the Referendums (Scotland) Act 2020.

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