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

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3 Who drafts the Bills?

You have seen that drafting (writing) a Bill in a way that is both legally certain and precise, and comprehensive and accessible, is no easy task. Drafting is a skill. At the Scottish Parliament there are a group of individuals whose task it is to draft Bills.

Box 2 Extract from drafting Legislation and the Parliamentary Counsel Office 2005

Since devolution, the Lord Advocate has become head of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. He is assisted by the Solicitor General for Scotland. They are the Scottish Law Officers and members of the Scottish Executive.

The Office of the Scottish Parliamentary Counsel is located within the Scottish Executive. The Office is:

‘Responsible for drafting Bills to be put before Parliament by the Executive and handling associated work such as the preparation of Executive amendments to Bills.’

It is headed by to the First Scottish Parliamentary Counsel. In addition, the office has 12 Parliamentary Counsel.

However, the Scottish devolution settlement allowed for not only Members’ bills (similar to Westminster’s Private Members’ bills) but also for bills to be recommended by committees. Such bills are not prepared by the Office of the Scottish Parliamentary Counsel. The Scottish Parliament has a non-executive bill unit which provides support for both members’ bills and committee bills. It was described in evidence to the Richard Commission on the powers and electoral arrangements of the National Assembly for Wales:

‘It’s basically a drafting resource within the Parliament itself but the members of that Unit are all staff of the Parliament not staff of the Executive and they also incidentally draft Members’ Bills so it is quite distinct from the Office of the Scottish Parliamentary Counsel.’

Kelly, R. and the Parliament and Constitution Centre, (2005)

You will now consider Acts of the UK Parliament as these still have relevance in Scotland.