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Scottish Parliament Content

Scottish Parliament Bills
Scottish Parliament Explanatory Notes to Bills
Scottish Parliament Policy Memorandums to Bills
Scottish Parliament Accompanying Documents to Bills
Scottish Parliament Financial Memorandum to Bills
Scottish Parliament Marshalled Lists
Scottish Parliament Delegated Powers Memorandums
Scottish Parliament Groupings
Scottish Parliament Business Bulletins
Scottish Parliament Official Reports – Meeting of the Parliament
Scottish Parliament Minutes of Proceedings
Scottish Parliament Written Answers
Scottish Parliament Papers
Scottish Parliament Official Reports of Committee Debates
Scottish Parliament Acts and Act Explanatory Notes
 

Scottish Parliament Bills
Scottish Parliament bills are either public or private. Public bills seek to change the general law; private bills seek powers for a particular individual or organisation.

Public Bills are referred to as Executive Bills if they are introduced by a member of the Scottish Government (previously known as the Executive), Committee Bills are so called if they are introduced by a parliamentary committee or Member’s Bills are so called if they are introduced by an individual Member of the Scottish Parliament. Private Bills are Bills which have been introduced by the person seeking the powers provided for by the Bill. This can be an individual, company or group of people.

The parliamentary process of a Scottish Parliament Bill depends on the type of bill but usually consists of three stages:

Stage 1
The Lead committee takes evidence on the bill and produces a report called a Stage one report on the bill’s general principles. A meeting of the Parliament then considers the report and debates whether to agree to the bill’s general principles.

Stage 2
If a bill progresses to Stage 2 it is considered in detail by the lead committee or, occasionally by a Committee of the whole Parliament. Amendments to the bill can be made at this stage.

Stage 3
The bill is again considered at a meeting of the Parliament. Further amendments can be made and Parliament decides whether to pass the bill in its final form. Once a bill has been passed there is a four week period during which it may be challenged by the Law Officers if they believe that it is outside the law-making powers of the Scottish Parliament. If it is not challenged it is then submitted to the Queen for Royal Assent.

Notice of the introduction of any Scottish bill is published in the Scottish Parliament Business Bulletin. Scottish bills cannot be carried over from one session to another and if they have not been passed or gone through all the required stages in the Scottish Parliament they fall.  Bills are usually reprinted as amended at Stage 2 (if the bill was amended during that stage) and it is this print that is considered by the Scottish Parliament at Stage 3. The bill is also printed as passed, unlike in the UK Parliament, before it receives Royal Assent and becomes an Act. In the event of the bill going through Reconsideration proceedings it is this print of the bill that is considered.


Scottish Parliament Explanatory Notes to Bills
 
When a bill is introduced in the Scottish Parliament it must be accompanied by an Explanatory Note which is a document under the collective term of ‘bill accompanying document’ and the purpose of the explanatory note is a document which provides a brief overview of what the Bill does, followed by a more detailed commentary on the individual provisions. They are required to be neutral in tone – that is, they explain what the Bill does without seeking to justify or advocate. They can be useful to the reader in describing the legal context in which the Bill operates and explaining technical terms or drafting conventions used in the Bill. Straightforward or self-explanatory provisions do not require explanation in the Notes.


Scottish Parliament Policy Memorandums to Bills

Most public bills are published with a Policy Memorandum which is a document under the collective term ‘bill accompanying document’ and the purpose of this policy memorandum is in setting out the Bill’s policy objectives, what alternative approaches were considered, the consultation undertaken and an assessment of the effects of the Bill on equal opportunities, human rights, island communities, local government, sustainable development and other matters considered relevant. It provides an opportunity to argue the case for the Bill, and so can provide a useful complement to the Explanatory Notes.

 

  • Explanatory Notes
  • Financial Memorandum 
  • Auditor General’s Report
  • Executive statement on legislative competence
  • Policy Memorandum 

All Bills must also be accompanied by a statement by the Presiding Officer on legislative competence

 

Scottish Parliament Financial Memorandum to Bills
Public bills are published with a Policy Memorandum which is a document under the collective term ‘bill accompanying document’ and the purpose of this Financial memorandum is to sets out estimates of the expected costs of the Bill to the Scottish Administration (i.e. the Government, in the broad sense of Ministers, departments and agencies), to local authorities and to other bodies, individuals and businesses. In each case, the Memorandum indicates the timescales over which such costs are expected to arise and the margin of uncertainty in estimates given.

 

Scottish Parliament Marshalled Lists
Normally, by the time a Marshalled List is printed, all the amendments to be included will already have been printed in a daily list. The Marshalled List is therefore an amalgamation of the various daily lists (minus any amendments that have been withdrawn). At Stage 3, however, the Marshalled List contains only those amendments that have been selected for consideration by the Presiding Officer. Amendments appear in the order in which they appeared in the daily lists and the amendment numbers remain the same.

Marshalled Lists are numbered by reference to the relevant print of the Bill.  So the first Marshalled List at Stage 2 of SP Bill 3 will be SP Bill 3–ML1, the second ML2, and so on.  If the Bill is amended at Stage 2 and reprinted as SP Bill 3A, the Stage 3 Marshalled List will be SP Bill 3A–ML; if the Bill is not amended, the Stage 3 Marshalled List will be numbered in the same sequence as those at Stage 2.

 

Scottish Parliament Delegated Powers Memorandums
Where an Executive Bill contains provisions conferring powers to make subordinate legislation, the member in charge must also lodge with the clerk a memorandum on delegated powers. This must set out:

  • person on whom any such power is conferred;
  • form in which the power is to be exercised;
  • why it is considered appropriate to delegate the power;
  • Parliamentary procedure (if any) to which the power is to be subject; and
  • reason for opting for that procedure.

The memorandum is not formally an accompanying document, and therefore need not be lodged on the point of introduction. Instead it is lodged “immediately after” introduction and needs only to be published, not printed. In practice, this means that the memorandum tends to enter the public domain at the same time as the Bill and accompanying documents, by being published on the Parliament’s website on the day after introduction.

 

Scottish Parliament Groupings
Groupings of amendments which are amendments ‘grouped’ into like subjects are determined by the convener or Presiding Officer. The clerks, in preparing a draft, may seek the views of members and the Executive, but the convener’s or Presiding Officer’s decision is final.  Lists of groupings are prepared no later than the day before the relevant meeting of the committee or the Parliament. Like Marshalled Lists, lists of groupings are numbered by reference to the Bill number (e.g. SP Bill 3-G1 for the first groupings list).

 

Scottish Parliament Business Bulletins
The Business Bulletin is published each morning when the Parliament is in session. It details the current, future and past business of the Parliament. During recess the Bulletin is published weekly.


Scottish Parliament Official Reports

The Official Report is the full and authoritative written report of proceedings in the Scottish Parliament. It is published in hard copy the morning following the proceedings and on the Scottish Parliament website by 8 am on the following day.

 

Scottish Parliament Minutes of Proceedings
The Minutes of Proceedings are the formal record of all items of business taken and the results of any decisions, divisions and elections held. Minutes are produced by the Clerk for each meeting of Parliament and for each committee meeting. These are published on the day after each meeting of the Parliament or Committee.


Scottish Parliament Written Answers

The Written Answers Report contains the text of written questions lodged by MSPs and the answers given by either the Scottish Executive or the Presiding Officer. Written parliamentary questions must be answered within 10 working days or 20 working days during recess.


Scottish Parliament Papers

Papers published under the authority of the Scottish Parliament which are necessary for the business and work of the Parliament. These include the committee publications and those of the corporate body.


Scottish Parliament Official Reports of Committee Debates

The Official Report is the full and authoritative written report of proceedings in the Scottish Parliament committees. They are published on the Scottish Parliament website and on paper by by agreed deadlines.

 

Scottish Parliament Acts
Full text of the Acts of the Scottish Parliament as they were originally enacted

 

Scottish Parliament Acts Explanatory Notes
All Acts of the Scottish Parliament which result from Executive Bills (except for Acts which result from Budget Bills) are accompanied by Explanatory Notes. The text of the Explanatory Notes is produced by the Scottish Executive Department responsible for the subject matter of the Act. Explanatory Notes seek to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified and who have no specialised knowledge of the matters dealt with. Explanatory notes are often published at the same time as the Act but this is not always possible and may follow some days after the publication of the Act.

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