Chapter 7: Conduct of Meetings

Rule 7.1 Languages

1. The Parliament shall normally conduct its business in English but members may speak in Scots Gaelic or in any other language with the agreement of the Presiding Officer.

2. Any person addressing the Parliament on the invitation of the Parliament in accordance with Rule 15.3.5, may do so in any language other than English with the agreement of the Presiding Officer.

Rule 7.2 Calling speakers and content of speeches

1. No member except the Presiding Officer may speak unless called upon to do so by the Presiding Officer. In deciding who should be called, the Presiding Officer shall have regard to the nature of the business under consideration. Normally, members shall speak standing at their places and shall address the Presiding Officer.

2. The Presiding Officer may allocate speaking time, whether for proceedings in relation to a particular item of business or for a particular speaker in any proceedings, and may do so whether or not the proceedings have started or the speaker has started to speak. The Presiding Officer may not allocate speaking time in a manner which would disrupt any timetable of business set out in the daily business list.

3. The Presiding Officer may order a member to stop speaking if that member continues to speak beyond any time allocated to that member or to that item of business (whether by the Presiding Officer or in the daily business list or under these Rules) or if, in the opinion of the Presiding Officer, the member departs from the subject or repeats what the member has already said.

4. A speaker may not be interrupted except by the Presiding Officer. The speaker may, however, give way to allow another member to intervene.

Rule 7.3 Order in the chamber

1. Members shall at all times conduct themselves in a courteous and respectful manner and shall respect the authority of the Presiding Officer. In particular, members shall not speak or stand when the Presiding Officer is speaking.

2. Members shall at all times conduct themselves in an orderly manner and, in particular, shall not conduct themselves in a manner which would constitute a criminal offence or contempt of court.

3. Any member who is in breach of paragraph 2 may be ordered by the Presiding Officer to leave the chamber and may be excluded from the chamber—

(a) on the order of the Presiding Officer for such period as the Presiding Officer thinks fit but not beyond the end of the next sitting day; and

(b) for such further period as the Parliament may decide, on a motion of the Parliamentary Bureau.

4. A motion under paragraph 3(b) may not be amended. If the motion is debated only the following may speak, namely—

(a) the member concerned; and

(b) one member for the motion and one member against the motion.

Rule 7.4 Suspension and closure of meetings by the Presiding Officer

1. The Presiding Officer may, if the Presiding Officer considers it appropriate, suspend a meeting of the Parliament—

(a) if an emergency occurs which would place members attending the meeting at risk;

(b) if a disturbance interferes with the conduct of business;

(c) where the electronic voting system or any other electronic equipment which is required for the purposes of the meeting cannot be used for any reason;

(d) where debate on a particular item of business has concluded before the time set out in the daily business list for commencement of the next item of business; or

(e) for a meal or other break.

2. In the case of a suspension under paragraph 1(b), a meeting is suspended if the Presiding Officer leaves the chair after ordering the person or persons causing the disturbance to stop the disturbance.

2A. The Presiding Officer may suspend a meeting of the Parliament to allow Stage 2 of a Bill to be taken by a Committee of the Whole Parliament.

3. The Presiding Officer may reconvene a meeting suspended under paragraph 1(a), (b) or (c) or 2A only at a time later in the same day. The Presiding Officer may suspend a meeting under paragraph 1(d) or (e) only until a specified time later in the same day when it shall be reconvened. A suspended meeting which is not reconvened at a time later in the same day is deemed to have been closed at the time it was suspended.

4. The Presiding Officer shall make any necessary alteration to the daily business list as a result of the suspension of a meeting. Members shall be notified of any such alteration.

5. The Presiding Officer may, if the Presiding Officer considers it appropriate, at any time close a meeting of the Parliament.

Rule 7.5 Sub judice

1. A member may not in the proceedings of the Parliament refer to any matter in relation to which legal proceedings are active except to the extent permitted by the Presiding Officer.

2. For the purposes of paragraph 1, legal proceedings are active in relation to a matter if they are active for the purposes of section 2 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 (c.49).

3. Where any member refers to a matter in relation to which legal proceedings are active the Presiding Officer may order that member not to do so.

4. Nothing in this Rule shall prevent the Parliament from considering legislation.

Rule 7.6 Forms of address

1. Each member shall be referred to in any proceedings of the Parliament by name and, if the member wishes, by title, if any, except—

(a) the Presiding Officer, who may, in addition or as an alternative, be referred to by that title;

(b) a deputy Presiding Officer, who may, in addition or as an alternative, be referred to by that title; and

(c) any member of the Scottish Government or junior Scottish Minister, who may, in addition or as an alternative, be referred to by such titles as the First Minister may notify to the Presiding Officer.

Rule 7.7 Calculating the length of debates or the number of speakers

1. For the purposes of any Rule limiting the length of a debate or the number of speakers—

(a) if the member moving the motion speaks in support of it, that member shall be treated as a speaker for that motion and the time for which that member speaks shall be treated as part of the debate; and

(b) any debate on an amendment to a motion shall form part of the debate on the motion.

Rule 7.8 Committee proceedings

1. Rules 7.1 to 7.3, 7.4.1 to 7.4.3, 7.4.5 and 7.5 to 7.7 shall apply to proceedings at meetings of committees and sub-committees as they apply to proceedings at meetings of the Parliament, with such modifications as are appropriate. However, only the Presiding Officer may grant the permission referred to in Rule 7.5.1.