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About the Scottish Parliament

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.

Standing Orders of the Scottish Parliament 6th Edition 9th Revision 22 December 2023


Chapter 15 Openness and Accessibility

Rule 15.1 Meetings in public

1. The meetings of the Parliament and, subject to Rule 12.3.5, of any committee or sub-committee shall be held in public.

2. Paragraph 1 is subject to the conditions which require to be complied with by any member of the public attending the proceedings of the Parliament as mentioned in Rule 15.2.

Rule 15.2 Public access

1. Members of the public shall be admitted to the public gallery during any meeting of the Parliament.

2. Members of the public admitted to the public gallery during any meeting of the Parliament shall comply with such reasonable conditions as the Presiding Officer may determine and notify to them.

3. The Presiding Officer may order that any member of the public who does not, in the opinion of the Presiding Officer, comply with any of those conditions shall leave the public gallery and may order that any such person be excluded from the proceedings of the Parliament for such period as the Presiding Officer considers appropriate.

4. This Rule shall apply to meetings of committees as it applies to meetings of the Parliament with such modifications as are appropriate.

Rule 15.3 Access to the chamber

1. Subject to paragraph 2, no person other than a member may enter the chamber during a meeting of the Parliament except—

(a) the Lord Advocate or Solicitor General for Scotland (if not a member);

(b) a person authorised to do so by the Presiding Officer;

(c) a person addressing the Parliament in accordance with paragraph 5;

(d) any other person required, invited or permitted by the Parliament to attend a meeting of the Parliament; and

(e) the Clerk or any person authorised by the Clerk.

2. If the person holding the office of Presiding Officer or deputy Presiding Officer as mentioned in section 19(2) is not a member of the Parliament, that person may enter the chamber during a meeting of the Parliament but only for the purpose of chairing proceedings for the election of a new Presiding Officer.

3. Any person mentioned in paragraph 1(b), (d) or (e) may be required to leave the chamber or prevented from entering the chamber by order of the Presiding Officer.

4. During a meeting of the Parliament, only a member, or the Lord Advocate or Solicitor General for Scotland (if not a member), may sit in any seat in the chamber which is reserved for members.

5. Any person may, on the invitation of the Parliament, address the Parliament.

Rule 15.4 Bringing petitions

1. The Parliament shall consider, in accordance with the provisions of this Rule and Rules 15.5 to 15.8, any petition addressed to it. A petition may be brought in any language by an individual person (other than a member), a body corporate or an unincorporated association of persons.

2. A petition shall clearly indicate—

(a) the name of the petitioner;

(b) an address of the petitioner to which all communications concerning the petition should be sent; and

(c) the name and address of any person supporting the petition.

3. The committee mentioned in Rule 6.10 (the committee) shall determine the proper form of petitions and shall publish its determinations in such manner as it considers appropriate.

4. A petition may be lodged with the Clerk, or sent to the Clerk by e-mail, at any time when the office of the Clerk is open and the Parliament is not dissolved. Petitions may be lodged or sent by the petitioner or by a member on behalf of the petitioner.

Rule 15.5 Admissibility of petitions

1. A petition is admissible unless it—

(a) does not comply with Rule 15.4.2 or is otherwise not in proper form;

(aa) is frivolous;

(ab) breaches any enactment or rule of law;

(ac) refers to any matter in relation to which legal proceedings are active;

(b) contains language which is offensive;

(ba) fails to raise issues of national policy or practice;

(c)  requests the Parliament to do anything which the Parliament clearly has no power to do;

(d)  is the same as, or in substantially similar terms to, a petition brought during the same session of the Parliament and which was closed less than a year earlier;

(e)  is the same as, or in substantially similar terms to, any other petition which is currently being considered by the Parliament;

(f)  has been brought by or on behalf of a petitioner who, at the same time, has two current petitions under consideration by the Parliament; or

(g)  relates to a Bill which is currently being considered by the Parliament, or to primary legislation passed by the Parliament within the period of twelve months preceding the lodging of the petition.

1A. For the purposes of paragraph 1(ac), 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).

2. The Committee shall consider and decide in a case of dispute whether a petition is admissible and shall notify the petitioner of its decision and of the reasons for that decision.

Rule 15.6 Action on petitions

1. If a petition is admissible, the Committee shall take such action as it considers appropriate in relation to that petition.

1A. [deleted]

2. The Committee may—

(a) refer the petition to the Scottish Ministers, any other committee of the Parliament or any other person or body for them to take such action as they consider appropriate;

(b) report to the Parliamentary Bureau or to the Parliament;

(c) take any other action which the Committee considers appropriate; or

(d) close the petition under Rule 15.7.

3. The Committee shall notify the petitioner of any action taken under paragraph 2.

Rule 15.7 Closing petitions

1. The Committee, or any other committee to which a petition has been referred, may close a petition at any time.

2. Where a committee closes a petition it shall notify the petitioner that the petition is closed and of the reasons for closing it.

Rule 15.8 Notification

1. Any notification to a petitioner under Rule 15.5.2, 15.6.3 or 15.7.2 shall be made as soon as practicable after the action or decision to which the notification relates and may, at the discretion of the Committee, be given in the language of the petition (if that language is not English).