Part 2 - Preparations for Introduction

2.1         This part of the Guidance covers the procedures prior to a Private Bill being lodged for introduction, and is aimed primarily at promoters and their agents.


2.2         It sets out what needs to be done to comply with the standing orders, and also offers suggestions on how this might best be carried out.  In doing so, it generally follows a chronological order of events in preparing for the introduction of a typical Private Bill.

Initial steps

2.3         Prospective promoters are advised to contact the Non-Government Bills Unit (NGBU) at the Parliament at an early stage.  NGBU is responsible for handling Private Bills, and offers advice to promoters (and to objectors) throughout the process.  This includes advice on the procedural requirements, the likely costs and the timescales involved. 

2.4         NGBU clerks have access to legal advice from the Parliament’s solicitors, where required, but promoters are also advised to obtain their own legal advice at an early stage.  In particular, it is worth taking advice on the options that may be available to secure the remedy sought, as there may sometimes be a simpler or cheaper alternative to proceeding by way of a Private Bill.

2.5         Promoters will also need to identify someone qualified to draft the Bill.  Legislative drafting is a specialised skill that many lawyers, however well-qualified in other respects, do not possess.  Promoters are welcome to contact NGBU for suggestions about how to identify a suitable drafter. 

Pre-introduction consultation etc.

2.6         The standing orders require promoters to demonstrate (in accompanying documents published on introduction) that they have advertised their intention to introduce the Bill, and that they have consulted on the Bill’s objectives, the ways of meeting those objectives and on the detail of the Bill.  In certain cases, promoters must also demonstrate that they have notified certain people directly affected and, in some instances, obtained their prior consent.

2.7         It is for promoters to ensure that there is sufficient time to complete these steps in advance of introduction.  This may take some planning, depending on the circumstances.  For example, where it is necessary to notify people with an interest in heritable property that may be affected, the promoter will need to decide what those properties are, establish who owns or lives in each one, and then prepare the letters to be sent or delivered to them.  However, it is unwise to complete these steps too far ahead of introduction, as this may lead the Private Bill Committee to question whether the reported outcomes can still be relied upon, given the time that has since elapsed.

Preparation of the Bill

“Proper form” and layout of Bills

2.8         Private Bills must conform to the Presiding Officer’s determination on “proper form” under Rule 9A.1.4 (see Annex D(1)).  The Presiding Officer has also made a number of recommendations about the content of Private Bills and the form in which they should be printed (see Annex D(2)).  The aim is to ensure that all Scottish Parliament Bills (and the Acts that they become) conform to standard conventions of style and layout. 

2.9         There is no need for a draft Private Bill to replicate a published Bill in terms of layout (font, indentation, headers and footers, etc.).  The drafter need only prepare the text of the Bill itself, leaving the layout and presentational aspects to the clerks in the Parliament’s Legislation Team who have access to specially-developed software for the purpose.  (For practical and copyright reasons, the software is not available for use directly by outside drafters.)  Promoters will be given an opportunity to check the formatted version before it is published.

Drafting style

2.10     Private Bills are expected to conform to standard conventions in relation to structure and drafting (see Annex E).  Drafters of Private Bills are encouraged to adopt, where appropriate, modern conventions of legislative drafting – as exemplified in Government Bills recently introduced in the Parliament.  Some guidance on aspects of this style (as developed by Parliamentary Counsel Office – the Scottish Government’s Bill-drafting unit) is available online[1].  This includes the use of plain English and gender-neutral drafting, and some standardisation of common provisions (such as those relating to commencement and short title).  However, the style in which a provision is drafted must always be adapted to the circumstances, and the final decision on how a Private Bill is drafted for introduction rests with the promoter.

Preparation of accompanying documents

2.11     All accompanying documents must comply with the Presiding Officer’s determination on the proper form of accompanying documents (see Annex F).  Other determinations made under Rule 9A.2.3 are also relevant to the information that must be included in accompanying documents, and these are explained by reference to specific documents below. 

2.12     Under Rule 9A.2, every Private Bill must be accompanied on introduction by:

·      a statement on legislative competence by the Presiding Officer (Rule 9A.2.2)

·      a statement on legislative competence by the promoter (Rule 9A.2.3(za))

·      Explanatory Notes (Rule 9A.2.3(a))

·      a Promoter’s Memorandum (Rule 9A.2.3(b)) and

·      a Promoter’s Statement (the contents of which vary according to the nature of the Bill) (Rule 9A.2.3(d)).

2.13     The promoter is responsible for preparing all of these other than the first.

2.14     Additional accompanying documents are required for Private Bills to which Rule 9A.1.1A applies, sometimes referred to as “works” Private Bills.  These are Bills that seek to authorise the construction or alteration of certain classes of works, or the compulsory acquisition or use of any lands or buildings.   Such Bills must be accompanied on introduction by––

·      an Estimate of Expense and Funding Statement (Rule 9A.2.3(c)(i))

·      certain maps, plans, sections and books of references (or a statement as to why they are not provided) (Rule 9A.2.3(c)(ii)), and

·      an Environmental Statement (Rule 9A.2.3(c)(iii)).

2.15     The specific requirements of the Rules and determinations applying to each accompanying document are set out below.  It is the role of the clerks, prior to introduction, to check compliance with these Rules and determinations, including by satisfying themselves that all the required information has been provided.  But it is not their role to endorse the accuracy of that information or to validate whatever methods are described.  For example, while the clerks’ role is to ensure that the Promoter’s Memorandum includes a reasonable amount of information about the consultation undertaken on the Bill, it is not for them to judge whether that consultation was carried out effectively.  This is, however, something that the promoter can expect to be questioned closely about at Preliminary Stage, by the Private Bill Committee.

Promoter statement on legislative competence

2.16     Every person introducing a Bill in the Parliament is required (under section 31(1) of the Scotland Act 1998) to make a statement on the Bill’s legislative competence.  The established form of words for such a statement is: “In my view, the provisions of the [short title] Bill would be within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament.”  The statement must be in writing, and must be signed and dated by (or on behalf of) the promoter.

2.17     Promoters are advised to take appropriate legal advice to inform the making of this statement. 

2.18     It is also helpful (although not a requirement) for promoters to prepare a note on the considerations that informed the promoter’s statement, and to provide this to the clerks.  Any such note will be taken into account by the Parliament’s legal advisers and may facilitate their preparation of advice to the Presiding Officer on the legislative competence of the Bill.  The Parliament will endeavour to respect any request for confidentiality in relation to such a note, but this is subject to its legal obligations (including under freedom of information legislation).

Explanatory Notes

2.19     The Explanatory Notes normally provide a brief overview of what the Bill does, followed by a more detailed commentary on the individual provisions.  Their purpose is to summarise objectively and clearly what each provision of the Bill does and to give other information necessary or expedient to explain the effect of the Bill.  They must be neutral in tone and should explain what the Bill does without seeking to justify the policy or advocate its merits. They should be as clear and readable as possible so as to be comprehensible to people with no legal or specialist knowledge.  Explanatory Notes can be useful to the reader in describing the legal context in which the Bill operates, including reference to relevant statute and common law, and explaining specialised terminology used in the Bill.  Straightforward or self-explanatory provisions do not require explanation in the Notes.

2.20     Annex F gives further guidance on the Explanatory Notes, including pro forma text for the first two paragraphs.

Promoter’s Memorandum

2.21     The Promoter’s Memorandum sets out the Bill’s objectives, what alternative approaches were considered and the consultation undertaken (including, in the case of a “works” Bill, consultation with the mandatory consultees). It provides an opportunity to argue the case for the Bill, and so can provide a useful complement to the Explanatory Notes.

2.22     The opening paragraph of the Memorandum should be in the form specified in Annex F.

2.23     The Memorandum should specify in reasonable detail what consultation was undertaken on the proposals in the Bill.  Such details might include the means by which consultees were selected, the manner in which they were approached, when the promoter consulted, what it consulted on and with whom, the number of responses received, the main themes that emerged from those responses, and what (if any) changes to the proposal were made as a result.

2.24     Where Rule 9A.1.1A applies to the Bill (i.e. because it seeks to authorise the construction or alteration of certain classes of works, or the compulsory acquisition or use of any lands or buildings), the Memorandum should also describe what consultation was carried out (under Rule 9A.1.4B) with the “mandatory consultees” (listed in Annex C).  That Annex sets out what aspects of the project the promoter must consult the mandatory consultees on, and the timescales for the consultation.  It also requires the promoter to inform the mandatory consultees of their right to lodge statements in relation to that consultation with the Parliament, during the objection period (under Rule 9A.6A).

2.25     It is in the promoter’s interests to ensure that the consultation undertaken is meaningful and effective, as this is liable to be a focus of scrutiny by the Private Bill Committee.  While it is up to the promoter to decide what is appropriate in the circumstances, the Committee is likely to look for evidence that the consultation was widely advertised to all those with an interest, whether they were likely to be supportive or hostile; that it explained what the Bill would do in a clear, open and balanced way; and that consultees were given adequate time, and a range of means, to feed in their views.  It is also good practice to give consultees a clear explanation of how their responses will be handled.[2]  In relation to more controversial proposals, promoters may wish to consider further enhancing the confidence of consultees in the process by committing to an independent analysis of the responses. 

2.26     Effective consultation can provide helpful feedback to promoters, enabling the Bill to be improved; it can also help to allay fears and suspicions and so reduce the likelihood of objections being lodged once a Bill is formally introduced.

Promoter’s Statement

2.27     The main purpose of the Promoter’s Statement is to set out how the promoter has notified and made information available to those likely to be affected, and obtained consent where required.  The Presiding Officer has made determinations on various aspects of what the Promoter’s Statement must include and these determinations are set out in Annex G and Annex H.  The determination at Annex F specifies the proper form of certain elements of the document.  This includes a requirement to make clear in the Statement which of the individual elements of the Rule – as set out under the following italic headings – apply.

Notification of people with an interest in heritable property affected by the Bill

2.28     The first requirement of the Promoter’s Statement applies only to Private Bills that affect heritable property.  This is likely to include any Bill to which Rule 9A.1.1A applies.  However, some non-works Bills may also trigger the requirement – for example, if the effect of the Bill would be to reduce amenity for people living in the local area.  Promoters may wish to consult NGBU for advice on whether this requirement applies in a particular case. 

2.29     Where the requirement applies, the Statement must give details of the notification given by the promoter to certain persons having an interest in that property (Rule 9A.2.3(d)(i)).

2.30     In practice, this requires the promoter firstly to identify which properties are affected by the Bill, then to establish who has a relevant interest in each such property, and finally to notify (if possible) each such person.  The Promoter’s Statement should give an explanation of how each step was carried out. 

2.31     Which properties are affected may sometimes be clear from the Bill (for example, where there is provision for specified land to be compulsorily purchased).  But in other cases, the impact of the Bill may be indirect and the promoter will need to adopt criteria for deciding which properties the Bill can be said to affect (for example, in relation to noise impact, by reference to distance from a specific location).  Any such criteria should be explained in the Promoter’s Statement.

2.32     The Statement should then explain (in general terms) the methods used to identify those persons considered to have an interest in each property.  Annex G(1) lists certain broad categories of persons, and the Statement should confirm that relevant sources (e.g. the Land Register) have been checked.  The Statement should also record whether or not there are people whose identities could not be established, and when the relevant inquiries were made.

2.33     Finally, the Statement should outline the means by which notification was given to the persons identified as having an interest in affected properties.  This will normally involve hand-delivering, or posting by recorded delivery, a letter to each affected person (in the case of a business, to a secretary, chair or other responsible officer), or to the occupier of each affected address.   

2.34     The function of the notification letter is to inform a person or body who may be affected by the proposed Bill of the promoter’s intention to introduce it on, or around, a specific date.  In particular, it should inform the person/body of how the Bill may affect any land or building in which the person/body has an interest.  The letter should also explain how to obtain further information about the Bill and the Parliamentary process to which it will be subject, how to lodge an objection to the Bill and refer to the 60-day objection period.  Promoters may wish to use as a starting point the model letter set out in Annex G(4).

Notification and consent – where promoter is body corporate or unincorporated association

2.35     Where the promoter of a Private Bill is a body corporate, or an unincorporated association of persons, the Statement must explain how the members of that body or association were notified about the proposed Bill, and confirm that they consented to it being introduced in their name (Rule 9A.2.3(d)(ii)).  In this context, the Statement must include details of the method or methods used to notify members that their consent is required before a Private Bill can be introduced and the date on which that notification was given.  It must also explain how and when consent was obtained.  In particular, it must confirm whether consent was unanimous or, if not, the majority in favour.  If the decision was expressed as a resolution, the relevant text should be reproduced (see Annex G(2)). 

Notification and consent – from body corporate or unincorporated association other than the promoter

2.36     Where a Bill contains provisions to confer powers upon, or modify the constitution of, any body corporate or unincorporated association of persons (other than the promoter) that is named in the Bill, the Statement must also confirm that members of that body or association were notified about the Bill and gave their consent to the provisions in question (Rule 9A.2.3(d)(iii)). The details that are required are the same as in the situation described above (where it is the promoter’s consent that must be obtained).  That is, the Statement must specify when and how the members of the body or association were notified, and when and how they gave consent – including by specifying the numbers for and against (if consent was not unanimous), and the text of any resolution passed (see Annex G(3)).

Advertisement of promoter’s intention to introduce Bill

2.37     In relation to every Private Bill, the Promoter’s Statement must include details of the advertisement of the promoter’s intention to introduce the Bill (Rule 9A.2.3(d)(iv)).  Advertising must be done in two ways – by taking out advertisements in newspapers, and by arranging to have notices put up in public libraries (see Annex H).

2.38     The precise requirements, in each case, vary according to whether the Bill is one to which Rule 9A.1.1A applies, and according to whether the promoter is a local authority or (if not) whether the promoter’s remit is geographically limited. 

2.39     In relation to newspaper advertising, the following points are worth noting:

·      Where advertisements require to be placed in two newspapers, it is not necessary for each to circulate throughout the relevant area, but together they must do so.  Thus, for example, the promoter may choose to advertise in one local or regional paper that has a high circulation in most of the area affected by the Bill, together with one other paper that circulates in the remainder of that area. 

·      Where the promoter is a local authority, one of the publications in which it advertises may be a publication it distributes free to every household in its area, rather than a newspaper.  Such publications are likely to be read by at least as many people as a newspaper, but will be considerably cheaper for the authority to advertise in.

·      The Edinburgh Gazette may be counted as a newspaper circulating throughout Scotland.  The Gazette is a formal paper of record, but is not widely read by the general public, so it cannot be used as the only newspaper in which advertisements are placed, and the other must be a newspaper that circulates throughout the relevant area.

·      A copy of the newspaper advertisement must be provided to NGBU clerks, who will arrange for it to be posted on the Parliament’s website.[3]  This provides a further means by which the public can be made aware of the forthcoming Bill, at no additional cost to the promoter.

·      The text of the advertisement must include a website address and a postal address which people can use to find out more about the Bill at the time the advertisement appears.  The website may be the promoter’s own, or that of a third party. Promoters who do not have a website may provide additional information to NGBU for posting (alongside the advertisement itself) on the Parliament’s website, and then cite the Parliament website in the advertisement.

2.40     In relation to notices in libraries, the following points are worth noting:

·      Depending on the circumstances, notices must be placed in a minimum of three public libraries, in all the public libraries within a local authority’s area, or in one library in each of the 32 local authority areas.

·      The text of the notice must contain at least as much information as the newspaper advertisement.  Promoters will, understandably, wish to keep the text of newspaper advertisements concise, to minimise costs, but are encouraged to provide additional detail in the context of a library notice.

·      The obligation on promoters is to request that the notices be prominently displayed for at least a two-week period, but it is recognised that this may depend on factors outwith their control.  Some libraries do not have noticeboards, and library staff cannot always guarantee that notices posted on them are not later removed or obscured.

List of premises where accompanying documents may be inspected

2.41     In relation to every Private Bill, the Statement must include a list of premises at which it is possible to inspect the Bill and its accompanying documents (or, at least, those published by the Parliament) (Rule 9A.2.3(d)(v)).

2.42     The purpose of listing premises in this way is to enable an interested member of the public to find all the documentation relevant to the Bill in one place. 

2.43     The promoter’s list of premises should be drawn up in liaison with NGBU clerks (who are responsible for sending to those premises copies of the Bill and those accompanying documents published by the Parliament – under Rule 9A.4.2). 

2.44     In terms of choosing suitable premises, the main requirements are set out in Annex J, and vary according to whether the Bill is a works Bill, and according to whether the promoter is a local authority or, if not, whether its remit or functions are geographically limited.  Subject to these requirements, it is for the promoter (in liaison with NGBU clerks) to choose which premises to use.  This may require the promoter, for example, to contact the staff of public libraries to check whether they are prepared to take copies of the documents and make them available on request to the public. 

Undertaking to send copies of documents to premises

2.45     The Promoter’s Statement must also include (under Rule 9A.2.3(d)(va)) a formal undertaking to send certain documents to each of the premises in the list referred to above.  In the case of a Bill to which Rule 9A.1.1A applies, the undertaking must also include sending copies of these documents to the “mandatory consultees” (see paragraph 2.24).

2.46     The documents in question are—

·      any accompanying documents not published by the Parliament

·      any other documents that are relevant to the Bill but which do not qualify as accompanying documents.

2.47     For any non-works Bill (i.e. a Bill to which Rule 9A.1.1A does not apply), all the accompanying documents are published by the Parliament, so there will be no documents in the first category. Documents in the second category may include, for example, copies of existing Private Acts modified by the Bill (particularly if these are not available online), or an illustrative map of any area referred to in the Bill.

2.48     For a works Bill (i.e. a Bill to which Rule 9A.1.1A applies), the documents in the first category are those listed in Rule 9A.2.3(c) – i.e. an Estimate of Expense and Funding Statement; the necessary maps, plans, sections and books of references (or any statement explaining why some of these have not been provided); and an Environmental Statement.  With a works Bill, as with a non-works Bill, there may also be documents in the second category (i.e. documents that are relevant to the Bill but are not accompanying documents).

2.49     The form of words to be used for this undertaking is set out in Annex F.

Information about how documents may be purchased

2.50     The Promoter’s Statement must include (under Rule 9A.2.3(d)(vb) information about how any of the documents that the promoter sends to the listed premises (i.e. the documents outlined in paragraph 2.46) may be purchased.  If this information refers to premises where documents may be purchased in person, these need not be the same as any of the listed premises where documents are available for inspection.  (Public libraries, for example, may not be able or prepared to sell documents on behalf of a promoter.)  Alternatively, the Statement may explain how documents may be purchased by post, by telephone or via a website. It is helpful for the information to list the documents available and how much they cost (including any postage or delivery costs).

Undertaking to pay costs

2.51     The Promoter’s Statement must include (under Rule 9A.2.3(d)(vi)) an undertaking to reimburse the Parliament for certain specific costs that it incurs during the passage of the Bill.  

2.52     The SPCB has determined (see Annex K) that these costs comprise:

·      the cost of printing and publishing the Bill and accompanying documents, and the cost of publishing Private Bill Committee reports

·      the cost of preparing and publishing the Official Report (or another transcript) of (public) meetings of the Private Bill Committee (or assessor hearings) whether held at the Parliament or elsewhere

·      the cost of hiring a suitable venue for any meetings of the Private Bill Committee (or assessor hearings) held outside the Parliament,

·      the costs involved in preparing a sound recording, video broadcast or webcast of (public) meetings of the Private Bill Committee (or assessor hearings)

·      the cost involved in having security staff present during such meetings (or hearings)

·      travel, accommodation and subsistence costs of MSPs and staff attending such a meeting (or hearing) held outside the Parliament, or taking part in a fact-finding visit

·      the professional fees of any assessor, and the assessor’s reasonable travel, accommodation and subsistence costs

·      the cost of any claims paid by the SPCB to objectors under the Parliament’s witness expenses scheme, and

·      the costs involved in notifying people whose interests may be adversely affected by amendments lodged to the Bill.

2.53     The form of the undertaking itself is set out in Annex F.

Assignation of copyright and licensing agreement

2.54     The final two elements that must be included in the Promoter’s Statement are:

·      an agreement by which the promoter assigns to the SPCB copyright in those accompanying documents published by the Parliament (Rule 9A.2.3(d)(vii)), and

·      an agreement by which the promoter licenses the SPCB to use or reproduce for the Parliament’s purposes any accompanying documents not published by the Parliament, and any other documents submitted to the clerks on introduction or subsequently (Rule 9A.2.3(d)(viii)).

2.55     Pro forma text for these two agreements is set out in Annex F.

Accompanying documents required only for “works” Bills

2.56     Rule 9A.2.3(c) requires certain additional accompanying documents to be provided if the Private Bill is a “works Bill” (i.e. one to which Rule 9A.1.1A applies).  The specific requirements of each of these documents are outlined below.

Estimate of Expense and Funding Statement

2.57     The first additional accompanying document required for a Bill to which Rule 9A.1.1A applies is an Estimate of Expense and Funding Statement.  Its purpose is to set out the estimated total cost of the proposed project, and the sources of funding for the project (Rule 9A.2.3(c)(i)).  The Presiding Officer has determined certain other information that should also be included (see Annex L), namely:

·      a detailed cost breakdown of each element of the project

·      an estimate of the timescales over which such costs would be expected to arise and an indication of the margins of uncertainty in any such estimates

·      a detailed breakdown of the anticipated and committed sources of funding for the project, including both capital and running costs, and

·      an estimate of the timescales over which the funding is expected to be required, and an indication of the margins of uncertainty in any such estimates.  

2.58     Where any of this information is not provided, a written statement must be provided giving reasons for the omission.

Maps, plans, sections and books of references

2.59     Private Bills to which Rule 9A.1.1A applies must be accompanied by certain maps, plans, and sections and by books of references (Rule 9A.2.3(c)(ii).  Further requirements about maps, plans and sections are set out in Annex M.

2.60     A book of references is a document that provides further information about areas of land (or water) directly affected by the Bill.  Annex F includes pro forma wording for the opening paragraph of this document.  Annex M gives further detail about what the document should cover.

2.61     It is helpful for the main part of the document to be set out in the form of a table, with the columns labelled along the following lines:

·      Number (or other identifier) – to identify the plot of land concerned by reference to the Bill or an accompanying map or plan

·      Description – giving extent (e.g. in square metres or hectares) and brief indication of type of land and its location (e.g. by postal address)

·      Nature of impact – e.g. compulsory acquisition, right to use, extinguishment of rights

·      Owners – name(s) and address(es) of owners of the land

·      Lessees – name(s) and address(es) of any lessees of the land (if applicable)

·      Occupiers – name(s) and address(es) of any occupiers of the land (if different from the owners or lessees).

2.62     In the columns for owners, lessees and occupiers, the source of information for the names and addresses given should also be included.

Environmental Statement

2.63     The final accompanying document required only for a Bill to which Rule 9A.1.1A applies is an Environmental Statement.  This must contain the same information about the Bill’s anticipated environmental impact as would be required by relevant environmental legislation (Rule 9A.2.3(c)(iii)).  

2.64     Annex N provides full details of the information that is required, including by reference to the relevant environmental legislation.  The final two elements of what the Environment Statement must include (i.e. paragraphs (d) and (e) of the Annex) should be labelled as a Code of Construction Practice, and a Noise and Vibration Policy.

Finalisation of accompanying documents

2.65     The clerks have templates for formatting those accompanying documents published by the Parliament (i.e. all the accompanying documents required for a Bill to which Rule 9A.1.1A does not apply).  The promoter need only submit the unformatted text, which the clerks will enter into the software, thus automatically ensuring that these documents conform to the standard conventions of layout and presentation.  Promoters will be given an opportunity to check the formatted versions before they are published.  Where a promoter (or agent) signs a copy of the Promoter’s Statement, that will be accepted in lieu of individually signed copies of the various agreements and undertakings it contains.

Introduction of the Bill

Timing of introduction

2.66     Under Rule 9A.1.2, a Private Bill can be introduced on any “sitting day”.  A sitting day is, under Rule 2.1.3, any day when the office of the Clerk is open but not when the Parliament is in recess or dissolved.  The office of the Clerk is open on most weekdays throughout the year, other than the main public holidays.[4]

2.67     Promoters are strongly advised to discuss the timetable for introduction with NGBU well in advance.  Having an indication of when the Bill is likely to be introduced at least two months in advance allows the Parliamentary authorities to plan for the preparatory work involved, and makes it much more likely that the promoter’s preferred timetable can be achieved.

2.68     In identifying a date for introduction, promoters should bear in mind that the Bill and those accompanying documents published by the Parliament will only be available (in print and on the Parliament’s website) the following day.

Pre-introduction consideration

2.69     The promoter should submit a final draft of the Bill, together with drafts of all the accompanying documents, at least three weeks before the proposed date of introduction.  Periods of Parliamentary recess and public holidays cannot usually be counted towards the three weeks.  (While it is sometimes possible to carry out the necessary pre-introduction work in less than three sitting weeks, circumstances can also arise when a longer period is needed, for example, because a number of other Bills have been submitted at around the same time.  Accordingly, promoters are advised to provide final drafts more than three sitting weeks ahead wherever possible, to minimise the risk of slippage.) 

2.70     The final draft documents should be provided to the clerks in the Legislation Team.  This is a separate clerking team from NGBU, and is responsible for the introduction of all Bills.  Contact details for the Legislation Team will be provided to the promoter by NGBU earlier in the process.

2.71     During the pre-introduction period, the Legislation Team clerks prepare the Bill and the relevant accompanying documents for publication, and check that the Bill itself is in “proper form” (see Annex B).  They also consider, and advise the promoter on, certain procedural issues that may arise later in the Bill’s passage – including what amendments to the Bill are likely to be considered admissible (under Rule 9A.12.5), whether there is any need for Crown consent to be signified (under Rule 9A.13) and whether a financial resolution is likely to be required (under Rule 9A.14).  (If a financial resolution is likely to be needed, the promoter should liaise with the Scottish Government, as only Ministers can lodge and move the relevant motion.  Liaison may also be required in relation to any need for Crown consent, since it is for Ministers to signify such consent at an appropriate stage.)  The Legislation Team clerks may also raise with the promoter any suggestions they may have about the drafting of the Bill or accompanying documents.

2.72     During the same period, the Parliament’s solicitors prepare advice on legislative competence in order to assist the Presiding Officer in making the statement required by section 31(2) of the Scotland Act 1998 (and by Rule 9A.2.2).  Should they have any concerns about the drafting of the Bill – particularly if they might give rise to an issue of legislative competence – these will be raised directly with the promoter (or agent) to enable any necessary adjustments to be made.

Formal introduction

2.73     A Private Bill that has been submitted for pre-introduction consideration together with drafts of all the relevant accompanying documents can only be formally introduced at the end of the three-week period once various pre-conditions have been met.

2.74     One is that the Presiding Officer’s statement on legislative competence has been signed.  The promoter will be notified as soon as this has happened.  Should the statement be to the effect that the Bill is not (in the Presiding Officer’s view) within the Parliament’s competence, the promoter is entitled to proceed with the introduction of the Bill, but also has the option not to do so.

2.75     The other pre-conditions are that the promoter has lodged a signed copy of the Bill itself (Rule 9A.1.5); has provided a signed copy of the promoter’s statement on legislative competence (Rule 9A.2.3(za)); and has paid the introduction fee (Rule 9A.1.8).

2.76     The Bill, and the promoter’s statement on legislative competence, may be signed either by the promoter or on the promoter’s behalf (by an agent).  They should be lodged with NGBU (who will pass them to the Legislation Team) towards the end of the 3-week period, once it has been confirmed that there are to be no final adjustments to the Bill’s drafting. 

2.77     The amount of the introduction fee is determined by the SPCB (under Rule 9A.1.8). Currently, the fee for a “works” Bill (i.e. a Bill to which Rule 9A.1.1A applies) is £10,000; for any other Bill it is £7,500, although a reduced fee of £2,000 is payable if the promoter is a registered charity, a non-profit-making organisation or a private individual (see Annex K).  

2.78     Introduction of the Bill is recorded in the Parliament’s Business Bulletin.[5]  Information on the progress of a Bill through the Parliament also appears in the Bulletin and on the Parliament’s website.

Publication and distribution

2.79     Following introduction, the Legislation Team arranges for the Bill and the accompanying documents (other than those documents required only for a “works” Bill) to be printed and published.  These documents are available, from 8 am on the day following introduction, in hard copy and on the Parliament’s website.  Bills appear in “pdf” format on the website, so that page and line breaks remain identical to the printed version. This enables the internet user to make sense of amendments, which are worded by reference to the page and line numbers.

2.80     The clerks then distribute copies of the Bill, and the accompanying documents published by the Parliament, to the agreed premises (as listed in the Promoter’s Statement).  It is for the promoter to send copies of any remaining accompanying documents (and other documents relevant to the Bill) to the same premises and (in the case of a Bill to which Rule 9A.1.1A applies) to the mandatory consultees.



[2] Promoters should ensure that responses are handled in conformity with data protection legislation.  If the promoter is a public authority, it should also explain that it may be asked to provide copies of responses to third parties under freedom of information legislation.  Promoters should also consider offering respondents the option to respond either anonymously or in confidence, subject to appropriate safeguards.


[3] See the “Proposed Bills” page, accessible via “Bills and Laws”.


[4] Recess dates are published on the Parliament’s website (About / Recess dates). 


[5] The Business Bulletin is the Parliament’s official publication for advertising its programme of business and listing items of Parliamentary business. The Business Bulletin is accessible from the Parliament’s website, under Chamber and committees / What’s On.


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