In 1603, by the accession of King James VI of Scotland to the throne of England as James I, Scotland and England were united under one ruler. However the Scottish Parliament continued to function as an independent Parliament until the Union of Parliaments in 1707. In the course of the next two hundred years the sense of Scottish nationhood remained strong and the desire for some measure of self government surfaced at regular intervals. A proposal for a devolved Parliament failed in 1979. However a successful referendum was held in 1997, and the Scotland Act was passed in 1998, leading to the establishment of a Scottish Parliament with fund raising powers. The first elections were held on 6 May 1999. As the veteran nationalist MP, Winnie Ewing memorably said at the formal opening on 1 July 1999, 'The Scottish Parliament, adjourned in 1707, is now re-convened'.