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Chamber and committees

About votes and motions

MSPs raise issues and make decisions on them by submitting motions and taking part in votes.


About motions

A motion is a way MSPs can:
  • raise awareness of an issue
  • suggest a topic for debate
  • recognise a group, business or individual
  • agree Parliamentary business

How to find or follow a motion

Each motion is given its own unique reference so it’s easy to find. All motion references begin with an S (meaning “session”) and then the number of that session. Then they have an M for “motion”. For example, all motions from session 5 begin with “S5M” because this is the 5th session of the Scottish Parliament.

Different kinds of motions

Motions are short statements written by an MSP.

Most motions raise awareness of an issue or recognise a group, business or individual. Other MSPs can support a motion to show they agree with it.

Motions are available for MSPs to support for 6 weeks. After that, MSPs can no longer support the motion but it stays on the Parliament’s website.

Members’ Business motions

Some motions can lead to a debate in Parliament, such as Members’ Business motions.

For a motion to be considered for a Members’ Business debate, it must get signatures from MSPs in different political parties. This is called “cross-party support”.

Once a motion has cross-party support, then a group called the Parliamentary Bureau makes the decision on whether the motion should be debated in the Chamber.

The debate will be scheduled by the Parliamentary Bureau for a Members’ Business debate. Members’ Business debates happen on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. There is no rule about how quickly this must happen.

There are no limits to the amount of these motions that can be submitted, but not all will get enough required support, or be picked for a debate.

Business motions

Business motions:

  • give an outline of proposed business in the Chamber
  • suggest timeframes for stages of Bills

Proposed business motions are discussed by the Parliamentary Bureau and are normally made by the Minister for Parliamentary Business and Veterans. They are agreed by MSPs and published in the next Business Bulletin.

No confidence motions

A no confidence motion is a motion that says some MSPs do not have confidence in a government minister, the First Minister, or all Scottish ministers.

If the motion gets support from 25 MSPs the Parliamentary Bureau schedules it for debate.  MSPs will discuss the motion in a debate and vote.

If MSPs vote to pass a no confidence motion about all Scottish ministers, it could lead to a Scottish Parliament election.


About votes