Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill


About the Bill

The Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill was introduced by the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport on 8 June 2018. The Health and Sport Committee has been designated as the lead Committee by the Parliamentary Bureau for the Stage 1 scrutiny of the Bill.

The Bill contains proposals to introduce a system of 'deemed authorisation' for organ and tissue donation for transplantation (often known as 'presumed consent'). What this means is that for someone who dies in circumstances where they potentially could become a donor, and they have not made their wishes on donation known, they would be presumed to be a potential donor unless their next of kin provided information that the deceased person was against this. There is nothing in the Bill to allow the next of kin to prevent authorisation being deemed based on their own wishes.

The NHS Organ Donor Register already enables people to register their wish not to be a donor, and the Bill provides a legal basis for this decision. This is often known as 'opting-out'. Deemed authorisation would apply to those who had neither opted in nor opted out. However, it would not apply to children under the age of 16, to those without the capacity to understand deemed authorisation and to people who had been resident in Scotland for less than 12 months.

Where someone had made their wish known by opting in or opting out but had since changed their mind, the Bill would allow the family or next of kin to present this information when their potential as a donor is being considered. However, the Bill would not allow the family or next of kin to overrule the wishes of the deceased person.

The Bill would also establish the authorisation arrangements for undertaking 'pre-death procedures'. This refers to procedures, including tests, which are required to assess whether someone's organs or tissue are suitable for donation, and to increase the likelihood of successful transplantation.  This is primarily intended to facilitate donations from those who die from circulatory death (i.e. where their heart has stopped beating). In contrast to those who become donors following brain death, organs from donors whose hearts have stopped need to be removed immediately. These procedures would also be able to be carried out where authorisation for donation is ‘deemed’.

The Bill and associated documents can be found at the following link:

Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill

SPICe Briefings

Stage 1

The Committee's timetable for consideration of the Bill at Stage 1 will be: 

Date  Event 
 28 June  Launch of call for written views
 28 June  Launch on online survey
 4 September  Close of call for written views
 4 September  Close of online survey
 6 November  Evidence session 1
 13 November  Evidence session 2
 20 November  Evidence session 3
 27 November  Evidence session 4
 February  Consideration of draft report
 26 February  Stage 1 debate

Stage 2

Stage 2 consideration, Tuesday 7 May 2019

Stage 3

Parliament considered the Bill at Stage 3 on 11 June 2019.


The Committee issued a call for written views on 28 June 2018. This ran until 4 September 2018.

The Committee also issued an online survey on the same date as the call for written views. This survey also ran until 4 September 2018.

Read the call for written views

Read the written submissions


Following the Committee's first oral evidence session on 6 November, a number of questions were raised by the Committee with regards to deemed authorisation and medical history/lifestyle questionnaires, including comparisons between Scotland and other countries regarding the number and type of questions asked as part of the authorisation process.  These were sent to the Scottish Government's Organ and Tissue Donation Bill Team on 7 November and a response was received on 21 November 2018. 

Following the Committee's second oral evidence session on 13 November, a number of questions were raised by the Committee and sent to the Scottish Government's Organ and Tissue Donation Bill Team.  We received a response on 15 November 2018.

During the Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing's evidence session on 27 November 2018 the Minister was asked if the Committee Members could be provided with flow charts to illustrate the differences between the current legislative framework in the 2006 Act and that provided for by the Bill in terms of how family views are taken into account.  We received these from the Bill Team on 7 December 2018.

Flow chart 1

Flow chart 2  

Work by other Committees

The Finance and Constitution Committee issued a call for views on the estimated financial implications of the Bill and received 3 responses by the closing date of 31 August 2018.

The Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee considered the Bill on 4 September and 5 November 2018.  The Committee published its report on 6 November 2018.

Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee 53rd Report 2018 (Session 5): Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1

The Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee considered the Bill as amended at Stage 2 at their meeting on 5 June 2019. 

Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee 32nd Report 2019 (Session 5): Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill: as amended at Stage 2


The Health and Sport Committee published its Stage 1 report on Friday 1 February 2019.  This can be accessed via our main Committee Reports page.


The Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing responded to the Committee's Stage 1 Report on 21 February 2019.

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