This Guidance has been prepared by the Parliament’s Non-Government Bills Unit, mainly to assist:

 ·         people wishing to promote a Private Bill in the Scottish Parliament

 ·         anyone seeking to object to such a Bill

 ·         MSPs involved in the scrutiny of such a Bill.

 The Guidance describes the procedures and requirements for the processing of a Private Bill through the Parliament, and aims to do so in as clear and understandable a way as possible. So far as possible, the Guidance follows the chronological order of events in the preparation and Parliamentary scrutiny of a Private Bill.  

 ·         Part 1 explains what a Private Bill is, and how it differs from a Public Bill.  It also puts the Parliament’s procedures for considering Private Bills in a wider context, contrasting them with the alternative mechanisms provided by the Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Act 1936 and the Transport and Works (Scotland) Act 2007.

 ·         Part 2 sets out the steps a promoter must take in preparing for the introduction of a Private Bill.  In particular, this explains the information that must be included in all the accompanying documents required on introduction.

 ·         Part 3 explains the rights of affected persons to lodge objections to a Private Bill. 

 ·         Part 4 is about Private Bill Committees – their establishment, membership and role.

 ·         Part 5 describes the 3-stage process of scrutiny, in committee and in the Chamber, to which each Private Bill is subject.  This explains, in particular, the role that the promoter and any objectors have in presenting their arguments directly to the Private Bill Committee.

 ·         Part 6 provides additional detail on the amendment stages – including about how amendments are lodged, how they are marshalled and grouped for debate, and how they are moved and disposed of.

 A series of annexes provides supplementary information, including the full text of the various “determinations” that have been made (by the Parliament’s Presiding Officer and corporate body) under powers conferred on them by the Rules.

 The Rules that provide the procedural framework for the passage of Private Bills in the Parliament are set out in Chapter 9A of the Parliament’s Standing Orders.[1]

 Chapter 9A was added to the Standing Orders in November 2000, based on recommendations by the Procedures Committee.[2]  The Chapter has since been amended on several occasions, the main changes being—

·         to enhance the scrutiny of the environmental impact of “works Bills”, to impose new restrictions on the membership of Private Bill Committees, and to allow a change of promoter,[3] and

·         to allow the appointment of an assessor to carry out detailed consideration of objections on behalf of a Private Bill Committee.[4]

This Session 5 version of the Guidance reflects changes to the Rules concerning amendments that adversely affect private interests[5], which came into force on 22 April 2016.  The May 2017 revision takes account of the introduction of a new “super-majority requirement” (under the Scotland Act 2016).  Although aimed primarily at Public Bills, this has required changes also to be made to Chapter 9A, with implications for how Final Stage and any Reconsideration Stage are handled.[6]

 If you have any comments on Private Bill procedure generally, or this Guidance, these should be sent to—

 The Non-Government Bills Unit

 The Scottish Parliament


 EH99 1SP

 Tel: 0131 348 5246

 [email protected]

For information in languages other than English or in alternative formats (for example Braille, large print or audio), please send your enquiry to Public Information, The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP.

You can also contact Public Information by telephone on 0800 092 7500 or 0131 348 5000, by Textphone on 0800 092 7100 or by using the Text Relay service.

Alternatively, you can email [email protected] or text 07786 209888.  Written correspondence in any language is welcomed.

May 2017

[1] The Standing Orders can be accessed via the Parliament’s website (, under Parliamentary Business / Parliamentary Procedure.

[2] Procedures Committee, 2nd Report, 2000 (Session 1), Report on Private Legislation in the Scottish Parliament

[3] Procedures Committee, 4th Report, 2005 (Session 2), Private Legislation

[4] Procedures Committee, 1st Report, 2006 (Session 2), Private Bill Committee assessors

[5] Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee, 4th Report, 2016 (Session 4), Standing Order Rule Changes – Legislation

[6] See Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee, 4th Report, 2017 (Session 5), Scotland Act 2016 – standing order rule changes





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