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
 January  Consideration of draft report
 March  Anticipated Stage 1 debate


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 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.

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