Part Three: Lodging of Objections

Part Three: Lodging of objections

Right to object

3.1 Under Rule 9A.6.1, any person, body corporate or unincorporated association may lodge an objection to a Private Bill that would adversely affect their interests (see paragraph 2.26). This may include individuals, amenity bodies and others whose interests may be adversely affected by the proposal.

Discussions with the clerks

3.2 Prospective objectors should have been informed about the Bill, either by way of the newspaper advertisements or directly by the promoter in advance of its introduction (see paragraphs 2.25-2.42). Prospective objectors are advised to contact the clerks (see Foreword for details) to seek guidance and information on the parliamentary procedures involved and, in particular, the arrangements for lodging an objection. All prospective objectors are advised to follow this advice in order to ensure that their objection is admissible. The clerks can only offer advice on procedural issues and not on the content of an objection. The objection must specify the way in which the objector feels that their interest will be adversely affected by the Bill (Rule 9A.6.1).

Time limit for lodging objections

3.3 Objections should be lodged with the Clerk during the 60 day period following the Bill being introduced. This is referred to as the “objection period” (Rule 9A.6.2). In calculating this period, no account is taken of any period when the office of the Clerk is closed for more than four days. Prospective objectors are advised to consult with the clerks to confirm the date when the objection period ends. The date for the conclusion of the objection period will however be posted on to the webpage created for the particular Bill on the Parliament’s website.

3.4 The Private Bill Committee does have discretion to allow objections received after the expiry of the objection period but before the first meeting of the Committee at Consideration Stage to be lodged. The Committee will exercise its discretion on such ‘out-of-time’ objections only if it is satisfied that the objector has good reason for not lodging their objection within the objection period; the objector has lodged their objection as soon as reasonably practicable after the expiry of that period; and consideration of such an objection would not be unreasonable having regard to the rights and interests of objectors and the promoter (Rule 9A.6.7A). Any prospective objector seeking to lodge an out-of-time objection should provide a brief statement to the clerks setting out their reasons. This statement will be considered by the Committee when determining whether or not to allow the late objection (see paragraphs 5.11-5.15).

Form of objection

3.5 An objection may be lodged only if it is in ‘proper form’ as determined by the Presiding Officer (Rule 9A.6.4). This determination is reproduced in Annex Q and states that all objections must—

be in English or Gaelic;
be printed, typed or clearly hand-written;
set out clearly the name, address and, where available, other contact details of the objector (telephone, e-mail and fax); and
be signed (where applicable by a person duly authorised and showing that person’s position or designation) and dated.
3.6 A model layout for an objection is set out in Annex R. A copy of this template can, on request to the Non-Government Bills Unit, be e-mailed to prospective objectors.

Admissibility of objections

3.7 Rule 9A.6.5 sets out the criteria for the admissibility of objections. These are that the objection––

is in proper form (see paragraph 3.5and Annex Q);
sets out clearly the nature of the objection (i.e. why the objector opposes the Bill, for example, acquisition of land, impact of noise and vibration (construction and/or operation));
explains whether the objection is to the whole Bill or only to specified provisions (in which case these should be clearly identified i.e. by referring to particular sections or works numbers in the Bill) or to both;
specifies how the objector’s interests would be adversely affected by the Bill (e.g. because of anticipated loss of earnings, or reduction in property values, adverse impact on employment or business, loss of amenity etc); and
is accompanied by the lodging fee determined by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (currently £20.00).
3.8 Although there is no limit on the length of objections, objectors should aim to express themselves in as clear and concise a manner as is consistent with satisfying the above criteria. In addition, objections should, wherever possible––

normally refer to, rather than quote from, specified parts of the Bill or the accompanying documents;
only quote from other published sources (e.g. newspapers, court judgements) to the extent necessary (i.e. it is not necessary for copies of the full source to be attached so long as a full citation is provided) although objectors may submit accompanying material to support their objection if they consider it necessary to do so.
Means of lodging objections

3.9 Objections may be lodged either in writing or by e-mail (Rule 9A.6.3). Objections lodged in writing may be delivered in person or by courier or may be posted (recorded delivery or registered post being recommended). The clerks will issue an acknowledgement on receipt.

3.10 Objections lodged by e-mail must be sent from the objector’s e-mail address. Within seven days of being sent by e-mail, a hard signed copy of the objection must also be received (see paragraph 3.9). The clerks will acknowledge receipt of e-mailed objections by the same route. The fee, however, must be received within the 60 day period allowed for the objection.

3.11 Whether or not an objection is lodged by e-mail, the provision of an electronic copy, while not a requirement, is of great assistance to the clerks in preparing papers for the Committee and is encouraged. It can also assist objectors and the Bill promoter in the swift transmission of documents between parties.

Data Protection

3.12 The lodging of objections is a public process and the Scottish Parliament operates within the Data Protection Act 1998. In accordance with this Act the Parliament has an obligation to advise objectors (the clerks will do this) how:

the information contained in an objection and
any subsequent evidence an objector may submit regarding their objection
will be dealt with by the Parliament under the Act.

3.13 Each objection will be copied in full to the members of the Committee and any assessor appointed to conduct proceedings at Consideration Stage. The clerks will arrange for each objection to be published on the Committee’s home page on the Parliament’s website at the conclusion of the objection period, subject to the removal of the following information—

the objector’s address, email address, telephone number, signature
any sensitive personal data such as the objector’s medical or family history3
statements regarding a third party which constitute sensitive personal data about that person or which may identify a third party

3.14 The objector’s name will remain on the objection posted on the website.

3.15 Copies of each objection will also be placed in the Parliament’s Information Centre, which is accessible to MSPs, their staff and parliamentary staff. These copies will be the same as those published on the website. They will also be made
available for inspection at the each of the public libraries at which copies of the Bill and its accompanying documents were lodged.

3.16 Each objection will also be copied to the promoter of the Bill, but subject to the removal of the objector’s email address, telephone number and signature, if provided.

3.17 Should an objection go forward for detailed scrutiny at Consideration Stage, the objection may be grouped with other objections that raise the same or similar issues. In that event, it is likely that an objector’s address will be given to fellow group members to enable all objectors within that group to enter into dialogue with each other and collectively present their concerns. If an objection contains sensitive personal data it may also be necessary for the clerks to share that information with other objectors within the group and for the clerks to seek consent from any third party referred to, prior to the sharing of any information about them.

Fees

3.18 An objection is admissible if it is accompanied by the fee established by the SPCB (currently £20.00). This may be paid by cheque, postal order or banker’s draft (payable to ‘The Scottish Parliament’) or in cash (in person only). Objectors must ensure that the required fee is paid at the time their objection is lodged.

Notification by the clerks

3.19 Each objector will be notified by the clerks whether the objection is admissible i.e. whether it complies with the admissibility criteria (Rule 9A.6.6). Following the conclusion of the objection period, the clerks will arrange for publication in the Parliament’s Business Bulletin of a list of the names of objectors who have lodged admissible objections (Rule 9A.6.7).4 Further entries in the Bulletin will be published if the Committee decides to permit out-of-time objections to be lodged (see paragraph 3.4) (Rule 9A.6.7B).

3.20 Objectors should note that acknowledgement by the clerks that an objection is admissible, and notification in the Business Bulletin, should not be taken as an indication that the objection will be accepted by the Committee at the Preliminary Stage or that the objector will be invited to give evidence to the Committee or any assessor appointed by it.

Withdrawal

3.21 An objector may, at any time following the lodging of their objection, withdraw it by notifying the clerks. The objector may, in the first instance, notify the clerks by telephone of their wish to withdraw their objection but, as with lodging an objection, notice of withdrawal must be given in writing or by e-mail subject to a hard signed copy written confirmation. No reason for withdrawal is required, although the objector may state their reasons if so inclined. The fee paid for lodging the objection will not be refunded on withdrawal.

3.22 To facilitate withdrawals, promoters should enter into dialogue with objectors as soon as practicable after objections have been lodged and published to discuss in detail the specific concerns of the objector and the ways, if any, in which they could be addressed. Promoters will also wish to consider whether there is any information they can actively provide to objectors as early as possible to address the concerns the objector has, for example, a general guide to the compensation process, site specific plans detailing the works relating to the Bill and site specific noise and vibration survey information which may be contained within the draft Code of Construction Policy or draft Noise and Vibration Policy.

Change of objector

3.23 Property affected by a Private Bill may change ownership during the Bills process. Where property ownership changes as a result of a straightforward sale, the new owner is entitled to lodge an objection in accordance with the time limits described above, and the Private Bill Committee has discretion to accept objections lodged as late as the first meeting of Consideration Stage. After that date, purchasers of property affected by the Bill have no entitlement to lodge a late objection, and neither can they “adopt” any objection lodged by previous owners. However, the seller of the property may be permitted to maintain their objection if they still have an interest in doing so, for example, if they have agreed with the purchaser to maintain the objection on the purchaser’s behalf. The Committee will treat each situation on its own merits, and objectors and/or prospective purchasers should contact the clerks to discuss what will happen to an objection if the affected property is sold.

3.24 Where the identity of a corporate objector changes as a result of a company restructuring or sale, under which a new company has received the assets, rights and liabilities of the old company, the new company will generally be permitted to adopt and carry forward any objection lodged by the old company. Corporate objectors should contact the clerks to inform them of any changes to the company’s name or structure that would affect the identity of the objector. The Committee will consider each case on its particular facts to reach a view on whether the objection may proceed.

Objections to possible amendments to the Bill affecting third parties

3.25 It should be noted that prior to the end of Phase One of Consideration Stage (see paragraphs 5.23-5.66), a proposal may be made to amend the Bill in such a way that might adversely affect the interests of persons who may not have previously objected to the Bill as introduced.

3.26 Objections to proposals to amend the Bill shall also be in accordance with the preceding paragraphs, subject to any decisions made by the Committee in this respect, e.g. the time limit for lodging such objections. For more information on objections to proposals for amendments (see paragraphs 5.59-5.66).

Statements in relation to consultation

3.27 Any of the mandatory consultees (see Rule 9A1.4A and B and the determination at Annex P) may, during the objection period, lodge a statement with the Parliament in relation to the consultation undertaken by the promoter (Rule 9A.6A). The statement must be sent to the clerks who would then refer it to the Private Bill Committee once it is established. Any statement will not be treated as an objection, but will enable the mandatory consultees to bring to the Committee’s attention their concerns about the adequacy of prior consultation and shortcomings in the accompanying documents (in particular the environmental statement) or other matters such as the methodology used in compiling, and general adequacy of, the draft Code of Construction Practice and Noise and Vibration Policy. The statement may raise issues that the Committee would wish to consider at Preliminary and/or Consideration Stage.

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Footnotes:

3 Sensitive personal data is data which describes racial origin, political opinion, religious belief, trade union membership, physical or mental health, sexual life, or the commission or alleged commission of an offence or proceedings carried out in relation to an offence.

4 The Business Bulletin is the Parliament’s official publication for advertising its programme of business and listing items of Parliamentary business (including new amendments to Bills and a list of “Bills in progress”). It is available on the Parliament’s website http://scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/9972.aspx