Standing Orders of the Scottish Parliament
The Standing Orders are the rules of procedure for the Parliament.
They have been made in accordance with the Scotland Act 1998.
- Previous versions of the Standing Orders
- Chapter 1 Members
- Chapter 2 Meetings of the Parliament
- Chapter 3 Officers of the Parliament and Other Officers
- Chapter 3A Parliamentary Corporation Supported Bodies
- Chapter 3B Scottish Parliamentary Pension Scheme Fund Trustees
- Chapter 3C Directions and resolutions under the Lobbying Scotland Act 2016
- Chapter 4 The Scottish Government
- Chapter 5 The Parliamentary Bureau and Management of Business
- Chapter 6 Committees
- Chapter 6A The Conveners Group
- Chapter 7 Conduct of Meetings
- Chapter 8 Motions and Points of Order
- Chapter 9 Public Bill Procedures
- Chapter 9A Private Bill Procedures
- Chapter 9B Consent in Relation to UK Parliament Bills
- Chapter 9BA Consent in relation to Orders under the Public Bodies Act 2011
- Chapter 9C Hybrid Bills Procedures
- Chapter 10 Subordinate Legislation Procedure
- Chapter 10A Proposals for European Union Legislation
- Chapter 11 Decisions and Voting
- Chapter 12 Committee Procedures
- Chapter 13 Statements and Parliamentary Questions
- Chapter 14 Laying and Publication of Documents
- Chapter 15 Openness and Accessibility
- Chapter 16 Reporting of Proceedings
- Chapter 17 Miscellaneous
- Annexe Temporary Rules
Annexe Temporary Rules
This annexe contains any temporary rules made under Rule 17.1A that are currently in force.
Temporary Rule 1 Election of the Presiding Officer and Deputy Presiding Officers
1. This Rule applies to the election of the Presiding Officer and any deputy Presiding Officers to be held at the beginning of Session 6 by virtue of Rules 3.2 and 3.3. It ceases to apply on 30 June 2021.
2. Any meeting of the Parliament convened for this purpose may be held in the Debating Chamber of the Parliament, Holyrood, or at any other location within Holyrood as may be determined by the Presiding Officer, and members shall be notified of that location or locations.
3. A member may, at any time during the period which is not earlier than 90 mins and not later than 30 minutes before the time appointed for the beginning of the voting period for Presiding Officer or, as the case may be, the first voting period for deputy Presiding Officer, nominate a candidate for appointment as the Presiding Officer or a deputy Presiding Officer by submitting a written nomination to the Clerk. A nomination shall be valid only if it is seconded by another member.
4. The vote at an election shall be by secret ballot and shall be held during the voting period appointed under Rule 3.2 or 3.3. Where there is more than one candidate, there may be more than one round of voting in accordance with paragraphs 13 to 18.
5. The result of any vote under this Rule is valid only if the number of members who voted is more than one quarter of the total number of seats for members. For this purpose, in calculating the number of members who voted—
(a) account shall be taken not only of those voting for or against a candidate, but also of those voting to abstain; and
(b) where there is more than one round of voting the result of each round of voting shall be treated as a separate result and the number of members who voted shall be taken to be the total number who voted in that round.
If the result of any vote at an election is invalid under this Rule, no candidate shall be elected at that election.
6. Each candidate may appoint a member to act as a scrutineer on that candidate’s behalf. Each scrutineer may monitor the counting of votes by the Clerk and may request the Clerk to perform a count again. The Clerk may refuse such a request only if the Clerk considers it unreasonable.
7. Members may participate in the election of the Presiding Officer or any deputy Presiding Officer in person or remotely by video conference hosted on such platform as may be provided by the Parliamentary corporation.
8. Any member may, at the beginning of a round of voting, obtain a ballot paper from the Clerk, either in person or, where a member is participating remotely, by electronic means.
9. Any member who obtains a ballot paper in person shall immediately mark that member’s vote on that ballot paper and then put the ballot paper in the ballot box provided for that purpose by the Clerk. That member may not thereafter obtain another ballot paper or vote during that round of voting.
10. Where a member is participating remotely, the Clerk shall facilitate the process and in doing so shall ensure the secrecy and confidentiality of it. The member shall use such platform as may be provided by the Parliamentary corporation for this purpose.
11. Any member participating remotely shall obtain a ballot paper from the Clerk by electronic means. Once the ballot paper has been received, the member shall immediately indicate to the Clerk the voting intention of that member. The Clerk shall mark that member’s vote on a ballot paper in accordance with that member’s voting intention, verify with that member that the ballot paper has been marked correctly and then put the ballot paper in the ballot box provided for that purpose. That member may not thereafter obtain another ballot paper or vote during that round of voting.
12. Where there is only one candidate in a round of voting, a member may vote for or against that candidate or to abstain. At the completion of that round of voting the Clerk shall count the votes and inform the person chairing the meeting of the number of votes for the candidate, the number of votes against the candidate and the number of votes to abstain. The candidate shall be elected if a simple majority of votes in the candidate’s favour is obtained.
13. Where there is more than one candidate in a round of voting, a member may vote for one of those candidates or to abstain. At the completion of each round of voting in which there is more than one candidate, the Clerk shall count the votes and inform the person chairing the meeting of the number of votes for each candidate and the number of votes to abstain.
14. Where there are two candidates in a round of voting, a candidate shall be elected if a simple majority of votes in that candidate’s favour is obtained.
15. Where there are more than two candidates in a round of voting and the number of votes for one candidate exceeds the total number of votes for all the other candidates, that candidate shall be elected.
16. Where there are more than two candidates in a round of voting but no candidate is elected under paragraph 15, the candidate or candidates with the smallest number of votes shall be eliminated and there shall then be a further round or rounds of voting until—
(a) a candidate is elected in accordance with paragraph 12, 14 or 15;
(b) paragraph 17 applies; or
(c) the result of any vote is invalid under this Rule.
17. Where in any round of voting the candidates all receive the same number of votes no candidate shall be elected at that election.
18. A candidate may withdraw that candidate’s candidature at any stage between the rounds of voting mentioned in paragraphs 13 to 16.
19. In counting the votes, the Clerk may disregard any ballot paper if, in the Clerk’s opinion, it does not clearly indicate the voter’s choice.
20. When a candidate has been elected in accordance with this Rule the person chairing the meeting shall announce the name of the candidate who has been elected. The person chairing the meeting shall also announce—
(a) after the count in a case where the provisions of paragraph 12 apply, the number of votes for and against the candidate and the number of votes to abstain; and
(b) after the count in any other case, the number of votes for each candidate, the number of votes to abstain and the name of any candidate who has been eliminated at that round.
21. Where no candidate is elected at an election held in accordance with this Rule, the person chairing the meeting shall announce that fact and arrange for another election to be held as soon as possible. The Clerk shall notify members of the day and time appointed for the voting period at that election.
22. Following a declaration that a candidate has been elected or that no candidate has been elected, the Clerk shall destroy all the ballot papers.
23. Where provisions contained in this temporary rule are in conflict with other standing order provisions, those in the temporary rule have precedence.
Temporary Rule 2 Oath of Allegiance
1. This Rule applies to the administration of the oath of allegiance or a solemn affirmation at the beginning of Session 6. It ceases to apply on 30 June 2021.
2. Every person who is returned as a member shall take the oath of allegiance or shall make a solemn affirmation at a meeting of the Parliament before the Clerk. Taking the oath of allegiance or making a solemn affirmation can include appearing before the Clerk remotely by video-conference, hosted on such platform as may be provided by the Parliamentary corporation. A member shall not take part in any other proceedings of the Parliament until that member has done so.
3. A member may, immediately after taking the oath or making a solemn affirmation, repeat the oath or affirmation in a language other than English.
4. The member shall then sign a register kept by the Clerk for the purpose, indicating that the member has taken the oath or, as the case may be, made a solemn affirmation. Where a member has taken the oath of allegiance or made a solemn affirmation remotely, they shall sign the register at the earliest possible opportunity after doing so.
5. The Parliament’s power under section 84(3) (where a member fails to take the oath of allegiance) to decide, before the end of the period of two months within which a member must take the oath or make a solemn affirmation, to allow that member a longer period to do so is exercisable on a motion of any member. The motion is valid only if it is seconded by another member.
6. In these Rules, “oath of allegiance” means the oath in the form provided in section 2 of the Promissory Oaths Act 1868 (c.72) and “solemn affirmation” means the affirmation in the form provided in section 6(1) of the Oaths Act 1978 (c.19).
7. Where provisions contained in the temporary rule are in conflict with other standing order provisions, those in the temporary rule have precedence.
Temporary Rule 3 Access to the public gallery
1. In light of the ongoing public response to the Novel coronavirus COVID-19, members of the public shall not be admitted to the public gallery during any meeting of the Parliament from the date of dissolution until either such time as the newly elected Parliamentary corporation has taken a decision on public access to the Parliament, Holyrood or 30 June 2021, whichever is the earlier.
2. Notwithstanding paragraph 1, the Presiding Officer may decide to admit members of the public to the public gallery in advance of those timescales if relevant legislation and public health guidance allow for it.
3. Where provisions contained in the temporary rule are in conflict with other standing order provisions, those in the temporary rule have precedence.
Temporary Rule 4 Change to Mandatory Committee Remit and Name
1. This rule applies to the committee mentioned in Rule 6.8. It ceases to apply when the Parliament has taken a decision to amend rule 6.8 in accordance with Rule 17.1 or on 31 December 2021, whichever is the earlier.
2. Where provisions contained in this temporary rule are in conflict with other standing order provisions, those in the temporary rule have precedence.
Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee
3. There shall be a committee, the remit of which is to consider and report on the following (and any additional matter added under Rule 6.1.5A)—
(a) the Scottish Government’s EU and external affairs policy;
(b) policy in relation to the UK’s exit from the EU;
(c) the international activities of the Scottish Administration, including international development; and
(d) any other matter falling within the responsibility of the Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture and any matter relating to inter-governmental relations within the responsibility of the Deputy First Minister.
 A correction has been made here as a printing point to include the correct cross-reference (paragraph 15, rather than the reference to paragraph 9 which was included in the original motion agreed by the Parliament).
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