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.
Some Standing Order rules have been suspended or varied for the duration of the public response to Covid-19.
- 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
Chapter 5 The Parliamentary Bureau and Management of Business
Rule 5.1 The Parliamentary Bureau
1. The Parliament shall establish the Parliamentary Bureau in accordance with these Rules.
2. The main functions of the Parliamentary Bureau shall be—
(a) to propose the business programme as mentioned in Rule 5.4;
(b) to propose alterations to the daily business list;
(c) to propose the establishment, remit, membership and duration of any committee or sub-committee; and
(d) to determine any question regarding the competence of a committee to deal with a matter and, if 2 or more committees are competent to deal with a matter, to determine which of those committees is to be the lead committee responsible for that matter.
3. The Parliamentary Bureau shall have such other functions relating to the business of the Parliament or of any committee or sub-committee as may be conferred upon it by these Rules or by the Parliament.
4. The Parliamentary Bureau shall not be regarded as a committee for the purpose of these Rules.
Rule 5.2 Members of the Parliamentary Bureau
1. The Parliamentary Bureau shall consist of—
(a) the Presiding Officer;
(b) a representative of each political party represented by 5 or more members of the Parliament (“a party representative”) who is nominated by the leader within the Parliament of that party; and
(c) a representative of any group formed under paragraph 2 (“a group representative”) who is nominated by that group.
2. Members who represent a political party with fewer than 5 representatives in the Parliament and members who do not represent a political party may join together to form a group for the purposes of nominating a group representative under paragraph 1(c). The number of members in any such group shall be at least 5.
2A. Prior to nominations being made to the Presiding Officer under paragraph 3, the leaders of each party as described in paragraph 1(b) and also any groups formed under paragraph 2 must consult each other and have regard to gender balance in the membership of the Parliamentary Bureau in making those nominations.
3. A nomination of a party or group representative may be made to the Presiding Officer at any time during a Parliamentary session but must be made in writing and, in the case of the nomination of a group representative, must be signed by each member of the group.
4. If a member wishes to join a group or no longer wishes to form part of that group, that member shall notify the Presiding Officer and the group representative that the group representative represents or, as the case may be, no longer represents that member.
5. If, at any time and for whatever reason, a party or group representative no longer represents 5 or more members (including that representative), that representative shall cease to hold office as a member of the Parliamentary Bureau and the Presiding Officer shall notify the Parliament accordingly.
6. Where a party or group representative ceases to hold office as a member of the Parliamentary Bureau in any circumstances other than those mentioned in paragraph 5, the leader of the party or the group which nominated that representative shall nominate another representative to it in place of that representative.
6A. In nominating another representative to the Parliamentary Bureau under paragraph 6, the leader of the party or the group which nominated the representative ceasing to hold office as a member of it must have regard to gender balance in the membership of the Parliamentary Bureau.
7. A party or group representative may arrange for another member to take that representative’s place at a meeting of the Parliamentary Bureau if the Presiding Officer has been notified in writing in advance of that meeting.
Rule 5.3 Procedure of the Parliamentary Bureau
1. The Presiding Officer shall convene and chair meetings of the Parliamentary Bureau. The Presiding Officer shall have a casting vote but shall not otherwise vote in the proceedings.
2. The Parliamentary Bureau shall meet in private.
3. The Parliamentary Bureau shall not consider any business if the number of members of the Bureau who are present is less than half of the total number of members of the Bureau.
4. Matters to be decided by the Parliamentary Bureau shall, in the event of any disagreement, be decided by a vote. The vote shall be conducted in such a manner as the Presiding Officer may determine.
5. A party or group representative shall carry one vote for each member of the party or group which that representative represents (including the representative). The representative shall notify the Presiding Officer and other members of the Parliamentary Bureau of the number of votes which that representative carries and of any changes to that number.
6. A deputy Presiding Officer may attend any meeting of the Parliamentary Bureau and may participate in the proceedings but may not vote unless that deputy is chairing the meeting in place of the Presiding Officer, when that deputy shall have a casting vote.
7. The Parliamentary Bureau may invite members who are not members of the Parliamentary Bureau to attend a meeting of the Parliamentary Bureau and those persons may participate in the meeting but may not vote.
Rule 5.4 Business programme
1. The Parliament shall decide, on a business motion of the Parliamentary Bureau, a programme of business (referred to as “the business programme”) for such period as may be specified in that motion.
2. The business programme shall include an agenda of business for any meeting of the Parliament which is due to be held during that period and may include the timetable for consideration by the Parliament, any committee or sub-committee of—
(a) any Bill or any provision of a Bill;
(aa) any legislative consent memorandum or legislative consent motion;
(ab) any Public Bodies Act consent memorandum or Public Bodies Act consent motion;
(b) any legislation or draft legislation of the European Union or any provision of such legislation; or
(c) any subordinate legislation or draft subordinate legislation.
3. The business programme shall be notified to members in the Business Bulletin.
Rule 5.5 Daily business list
1. On the basis of the business programme and other decisions of the Parliament and the Presiding Officer, the Clerk shall publish a daily business list containing details of business to be considered by the Parliament and by each committee or sub-committee on each day when the Parliament or a committee or sub-committee meets. The daily business list shall also contain details of the times at which particular items of business are to be taken at any meeting if such times have been allocated in the business programme or in the decisions of the Parliament or the Presiding Officer.
2. The daily business list shall be notified to members in the Business Bulletin.
3. The Parliament may, on a motion of the Parliamentary Bureau, make alterations to the daily business list. Any such alterations shall be notified to members in the Business Bulletin.
4. If any emergency business arises, the Presiding Officer may allow that business to be taken at an appropriate point during a meeting of the Parliament and shall make any necessary alteration to the daily business list. Members shall be notified that the emergency business is to be taken and of any subsequent alteration to the daily business list.
Rule 5.6 Special cases of Parliamentary business
1. In proposing the business programme, the Parliamentary Bureau shall ensure that—
(a) on 12 half sitting days in each Parliamentary year, the business of committees is given priority over the business of the Scottish Government at meetings of the Parliament;
(b) on 16 half sitting days in each Parliamentary year, meetings of the Parliament consider business chosen by political parties which are not represented in the Scottish Government or by any group formed under Rule 5.2.2;
(c) at each meeting of the Parliament there is a period of up to 45 minutes for any Members’ Business; and
(d) time is available to allow any committee to make an announcement on matters in connection with the activities of that committee.
2. For the purposes of this Rule, a half sitting day is that part of a sitting day between 14:30 and 17:00 on a Monday, between 09:15 and 12:30 or 14:30 and 17:00 on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday or between 09:30 and 12:00 on a Friday.
Rule 5.7 Programme of the Scottish Government
1. When the First Minister wishes to make a statement to a meeting of the Parliament setting out the proposed policy objectives and legislative programme of the Scottish Government for any Parliamentary year, the First Minister shall give notice of that proposal to the Presiding Officer. The Presiding Officer shall then notify the Parliamentary Bureau.
2. The Parliamentary Bureau shall ensure that sufficient time is set aside in the business programme for the statement to be made and debated.
Rule 5.8 Financial business
1. In proposing the business programme, the Parliamentary Bureau shall ensure that sufficient time is set aside—(a) prior to the Stage 1 debate on the general principles of a Budget Bill, for committee pre budget reports to be debated; and
(b) for the Stages of a Budget Bill.
2. None of the 12 half sitting days referred to in Rule 5.6.1(a) shall form any part of the time to be set aside under this Rule.
Rule 5.9 Business Bulletin
1. The Clerk shall produce the Business Bulletin.
2. The Business Bulletin shall include—
(a) the business programme;
(b) the daily business list;
(c) agendas for committee meetings;
(d) oral questions selected for answer at First Minister’s Question Time or Topical Question Time, or lodged for answer at General Question Time or Portfolio Question Time, and the names of members selected to lodge questions for answer at General Question Time or Portfolio Question Time;
(e) written questions;
(f) notices of motions and amendments to motions;
(g)notices of Bills introduced into the Parliament and amendments to Bills;
(ga) notices of any legislative consent memorandums;
(gb) notices of any Public Bodies Act consent memorandums;
(h) notices of any subordinate legislation or draft subordinate legislation or any other document which is laid before the Parliament;
(ha) agendas for meetings of the Scottish Commission for Public Audit; and
(i) any other item which requires to be notified to members, and the Business Bulletin may include any other information which the Clerk considers appropriate.
3. The Business Bulletin shall be issued to members by whatever means the Presiding Officer considers appropriate and shall be made public.
4. The Clerk shall keep the Business Bulletin under review and if necessary shall issue to members an amended version of any part of it.