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The Scottish Parliament and law making
The Scottish Parliament and law making

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3.2 Types of Bills

The stages of a Bill through the Scottish Parliament will depend on a number of factors as not all Bills follow the same process.

  • Public Bills seek to change the general law or deal with matters of public policy.
  • Private Bills seek powers for a particular organisation or individual that are in excess of or in conflict with general law.

There are also a number of routes by which a Bill can be introduced.

Table 1 Routes by which a Bill can be introduced
Government Bill introduced by Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers
Members’ Bill introduced by an MSP
Committee Billintroduced by the convenor of a parliamentary committee
Private Bill introduced by an external person, company or group of people

All Bills submitted for introduction must be accompanied by various documents. These include:

  • explanatory notes
  • a financial memorandum
  • a statement of legislative competence
  • a policy memorandum.

Other requirements apply to Bills relating to the budget and to Bills which seek to repeal existing legislation. One of the purposes of this process is to provide as much information as possible to ensure informed decision making.

The Bills considered by the Scottish Parliament have been wide-ranging in their focus and topics, for example, from planning, historical monuments, succession, education, justice, carers, violence, alcohol, burial, bankruptcy, abusive behaviour, tenements, railways, dog fouling, climate change, criminal cases, agricultural holdings, elections, British sign language, welfare, the commonwealth games, fur farming, water industry, high hedges, charities and homelessness to emergency workers and wind farms.

Bills of the Scottish Parliament 1999 to 2016
Figure 11 Bills of the Scottish Parliament 1999 to 2016

Details of Bills and the work of the Scottish Parliament can be found in their annual reports (accessible via the Scottish Parliament website).

Table 2 Breakdown of Bill types
Scottish Parliament Annual ReportNumber of BillsGovernment BillsMembers BillsCommittee BillsPrivate Bills

(* plus 1 hybrid Bill).