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About Bills

Non-Government Bills Unit

The Non-Government Bills Unit (NGBU) is a clerking team within the Parliament. NGBU provides advice, guidance and support to:

  • MSPs interested in proposing:
  • a Member’s Bill
  • a Committee Bill
  • any private individuals or organisations interested in bringing forward a Private Bill
  • the Scottish Government regarding the preparation and introduction of a Hybrid Bill

NGBU services are confidential, impartial and available to all MSPs who are not Government Ministers.

MSPs who want to propose a Member’s Bill must lodge their draft and final proposals with NGBU.

MSPs who are proposing a bill can choose whether to receive additional support from NGBU. That support is provided on a first come, first serve basis and would usually include:

  • help with developing the policy of the proposed bill
  • summarising consultation responses
  • arranging the drafting of a bill
  • drafting the bill’s accompanying documents
  • assistance from the Parliament's lawyers

It usually takes at least 18 months from an MSP contacting NGBU to the introduction of a bill. To ensure a proposed bill has time to go through the process, MSPs are advised to approach NGBU in the first half of a Parliamentary session if possible. Members’ Bills cannot normally be introduced after the beginning of June in the year before a Scottish Parliament election.

Proposal work

When working with an MSP, NGBU helps the MSP develop the proposed policy. In this early stage it is important to identify and try to solve any legal, practical or political problems, before a proposal is formally lodged.

Preparing a Bill for introduction

If an MSP earn the right to introduce a bill, and is being supported by NGBU, the Unit works with them to improve the proposal and its policies. This work takes account of consultation responses, and aims to resolve any other problems. NGBU will then work with solicitors and a drafter to prepare:

  • the bill itself
  • the accompanying documents:
  • a Policy Memorandum
  • the Explanatory Notes
  • a Financial Memorandum
  • a Delegated Powers Memorandum (if required)

Post-introduction

Once a Member’s Bill is introduced it enters the same 3-stage process as other Public Bills. At each stage, NGBU supports the MSP. This support could include:

  • providing briefing material
  • drafting speeches
  • accompanying the MSP when giving evidence to a Committee
  • helping to suggest and prepare any changes to the bill

For further information, please contact NGBU: [email protected].


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