This Guidance is primarily intended for the use of members and clerks in the Scottish Parliament and promoters of, and objectors to, Private Bills although, as a public document, it is available to other Parliament staff and members of the public.

The Guidance aims to inform the reader/user of the procedures and requirements for the processing of a Private Bill through the Parliament. In seeking to achieve this aim, it is intended that the Guidance is as clear, readable and understandable as possible in explaining what at times can be a complex process. The format is, so far as possible, to follow the chronological order of events in the promotion and processing of a Bill. A flowchart has been produced at Annex A to show the broad procedure for a Private Bill from lodging through to Royal Assent.

The Rules that provide the procedural framework for the passage of Private Bills in the Parliament are set out in chapter 9A of the Standing Orders (these are the Parliament’s rules of procedure). Both the Guidance and the Standing Orders can be accessed via the Parliament’s website—

Private Bill Guidance can be found at Parliamentary Business / Bills / Bills Explained / Public, Private & Hybrid Bills Guidance / Guidance on Private Bills.  Link below:

Standing Orders can be found at Parliamentary Business / Parliamentary Procedure / Standing Orders of the Scottish Parliament.  Link below:

Several amendments have been made to the Rules on Private Bills, following recommendations made by the Procedures Committee—

*However, of particular relevance, is that Committee’s 4th Report of 2005 which has led to a new procedure for dealing with transport and works proposals.

That Report recommended a statutory system that would allow the principal responsibility for handling applications for transport developments (eg the construction of a new railway) to be transferred from the Parliament (and its procedures under Rule 9A and this Guidance) to the Scottish Government, but subject to appropriate parliamentary oversight. Under this approach, promoters could seek an order made by Ministers rather than an Act of the Scottish Parliament, and the detailed scrutiny and consideration of objections would be done at a local public inquiry operating under statutory rules rather than by a parliamentary committee operating under standing orders. The Parliament would have an opportunity to scrutinise and, if need be, reject, any such order both early in the process and at the end.

The Report called upon the Scottish Government to prepare and introduce a Bill to put in place such a system. The Transport and Works (Scotland) Bill was introduced in June 2006 and received Royal Assent in February 2007. The Transport and Works (Scotland) Act  establishes a new system for authorising major rail, tram, inland waterway and guided bus system projects. It makes minor amendments to the process for authorising nationally significant road and harbour developments and the making of pilotage orders. It also allows for the establishment of voluntary purchase schemes for properties affected by major transport developments and removes ministerial powers to make light railway orders.

Therefore, any queries relating to the operation of that procedure, the promotion of an order to authorise such transport developments, etc should be directed to the Scottish Government.

Where substantial changes are made to the Rules on Private Bills, a revised edition of this Guidance will be issued. In the meantime, should you have any comments on Private Bill procedure generally, or this Guidance, these should be sent to—

The Non-Government Bills Unit
The Scottish Parliament
EH99 1SP
Tel: 0131 348 5246
Fax: 0131 348 6467

For information in languages other than English or in alternative formats (for example Braille, large print, audio tape or various computer formats), please send your enquiry to the Public Information Service, The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP. You can also contact their office by telephone on 0131 348 5000, by Textphone (Textphone users use 0800 092 7100) and Text Relay or by fax (on 0131 348 5601) or email at [email protected].  Written correspondence in any language is welcomed.

Non-Government Bills Unit
July 2012