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Legislation

Bills (proposed laws)

'Bills' are proposed laws that are being examined by the Scottish Parliament. Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) discuss them to decide if they should become law. The public also usually gets the chance to share its views.

The different types of Bills are:

  • Government Bills (known as Executive Bills before)
  • Members' Bills
  • Committee Bills
  • Private Bills
  • Hybrid Bills

Government, Members' Bills and Committee Bills are all types of Public Bills.

Government Bill

This is a Bill that's introduced by the Scottish Government. This timeline shows the stages in a Government Bill.

Introduced

The Scottish Government sends the Bill and other documents to the Scottish Parliament.

Stage 1

The committee leading on the Bill examines it and publishes a report. Other committees may look at the parts of the Bill if they're relevant to the subjects they deal with. MSPs vote on whether the Bill should carry on to Stage 2.

Stage 2

MSPs can propose changes to the Bill – these are called ‘amendments’. The changes are considered by the lead committee and then voted on.

Stage 3

MSPs can propose further changes to the Bill. The Parliament then votes on each of these and then votes on whether the Bill should become law.

Becomes Law

If the Bill passes the vote at Stage 3 and is not successfully challenged, the Queen formally agrees it. This is known as 'Royal Assent'. After that, it becomes law.

When a Bill is unsuccessful

There are 2 main ways that Bills are unsuccessful:

Fallen

If MSPs do not agree with what the Bill is trying to do, then they can vote against it at the end of Stage 1 or at Stage 3. The Bill is then described as 'fallen'.

Withdrawn

A Bill can be withdrawn by the person who proposed it. If it has already completed Stage 1, MSPs must agree to the withdrawal.

What can the Scottish Parliament make decisions about?

The Scottish Parliament can make decisions about many things like:

  • Agriculture and Fisheries
  • Education and Training
  • Environment
  • Health and Social Services
  • Housing
  • Justice and Policing
  • Local Government
  • Some aspects of Tax and Social Security

These are 'devolved matters'.

Only the UK Parliament can make laws about some things like:

  • Defence
  • Employment
  • Immigration
  • International Development
  • Trade and Industry

These are 'reserved matters'. 

Members' Bill

This is a Bill that's introduced by a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP). This timeline shows the stages in a Members' Bill.

Introduced

The Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) sends the Bill and the related documents to the Scottish Parliament.

Stage 1

The committee leading on the Bill examines it and publishes a report. Other committees may look at the parts of the Bill if they're relevant to the subjects they deal with. MSPs vote on whether the Bill should carry on to Stage 2.

Stage 2

MSPs can propose changes to the Bill – these are called ‘amendments’. The changes are considered by the lead committee and then voted on.

Stage 3

MSPs can propose further changes to the Bill. The Parliament then votes on each of these and then votes on whether the Bill should become law.

Becomes Law

If the Bill passes the vote at Stage 3 and is not successfully challenged, the Queen formally agrees it. This is known as 'Royal Assent'. After that, it becomes law.

When a Bill is unsuccessful

There are 2 main ways that Bills are unsuccessful:

Fallen

If MSPs do not agree with what the Bill is trying to do, then they can vote against it at the end of Stage 1 or at Stage 3. The Bill is then described as 'fallen'.

Withdrawn

A Bill can be withdrawn by the person who proposed it. If it has already completed Stage 1, MSPs must agree to the withdrawal.

What can the Scottish Parliament make decisions about?

The Scottish Parliament can make decisions about many things like:

  • Agriculture and Fisheries
  • Education and Training
  • Environment
  • Health and Social Services
  • Housing
  • Justice and Policing
  • Local Government
  • Some aspects of Tax and Social Security

These are 'devolved matters'.

Only the UK Parliament can make laws about some things like:

  • Defence
  • Employment
  • Immigration
  • International Development
  • Trade and Industry

These are 'reserved matters'. 

Committee Bill

This is a Bill that's introduced by a committee. This timeline shows the stages in a Committee Bill.

Introduced

The committee sends the Bill and the related documents to the Scottish Parliament.

Stage 1

The committee leading on the Bill examines it and publishes a report. Other committees may look at the parts of the Bill if they're relevant to the subjects they deal with. MSPs vote on whether the Bill should carry on to Stage 2.

Stage 2

MSPs can propose changes to the Bill – these are called ‘amendments’. The changes are considered by the lead committee and then voted on.

Stage 3

MSPs can propose further changes to the Bill. The Parliament then votes on each of these and then votes on whether the Bill should become law.

Becomes Law

If the Bill passes the vote at Stage 3 and is not successfully challenged, the Queen formally agrees it. This is known as 'Royal Assent'. After that, it becomes law.

When a Bill is unsuccessful

There are 2 main ways that Bills are unsuccessful:

Fallen

If MSPs do not agree with what the Bill is trying to do, then they can vote against it at the end of Stage 1 or at Stage 3. The Bill is then described as 'fallen'.

Withdrawn

A Bill can be withdrawn by the person who proposed it. If it has already completed Stage 1, MSPs must agree to the withdrawal.

What can the Scottish Parliament make decisions about?

The Scottish Parliament can make decisions about many things like:

  • Agriculture and Fisheries
  • Education and Training
  • Environment
  • Health and Social Services
  • Housing
  • Justice and Policing
  • Local Government
  • Some aspects of Tax and Social Security

These are 'devolved matters'.

Only the UK Parliament can make laws about some things like:

  • Defence
  • Employment
  • Immigration
  • International Development
  • Trade and Industry

These are 'reserved matters'. 

Private Bill

This is Bill that's introduced by a person, organisation, company or group of people. This timeline shows the stages in a Private Bill.

Introduced

The person or people proposing this Bill send it to the Scottish Parliament.

Preliminary Stage

The Bill is examined by a committee. A committee is a group of MSPs from different parties. The committee also considers any early objections.

Consideration Stage

MSPs can make changes to a Bill – these are called ‘amendments’. The changes are considered and then voted on by the committee.

Final Stage

MSPs discuss the final version of the Bill and vote on each of the final proposed changes. They then vote on whether the Bill should become law.

Becomes Law

If the Bill passes the vote, and is not successfully challenged, the Queen formally agrees it. This is known as 'Royal Assent'. After that, it becomes law.

When a Bill is unsuccessful

There are 2 main ways that Bills are unsuccessful:

Fallen

If MSPs do not agree with what the Bill is trying to do, then they can vote against it at the end of Stage 1 or at Stage 3. The Bill is then described as 'fallen'.

Withdrawn

A Bill can be withdrawn by the person who proposed it. If it has already completed Stage 1, MSPs must agree to the withdrawal.

What can the Scottish Parliament make decisions about?

The Scottish Parliament can make decisions about many things like:

  • Agriculture and Fisheries
  • Education and Training
  • Environment
  • Health and Social Services
  • Housing
  • Justice and Policing
  • Local Government
  • Some aspects of Tax and Social Security

These are 'devolved matters'.

Only the UK Parliament can make laws about some things like:

  • Defence
  • Employment
  • Immigration
  • International Development
  • Trade and Industry

These are 'reserved matters'. 

Hybrid Bill

This is a Bill that's introduced by the Scottish Government. This timeline shows the stages in a Hybrid Bill.

Introduced

The Scottish Government sends the Bill and the related documents to the Scottish Parliament.

Stage 1

The committee leading on the Bill examines it and publishes a report. Other committees may look at the parts of the Bill if they're relevant to the subjects they deal with. MSPs vote on whether the Bill should carry on to Stage 2.

Stage 2

MSPs can propose changes to the Bill – these are called ‘amendments’. The changes are considered by the lead committee and then voted on.

Stage 3

MSPs can propose further changes to the Bill. The Parliament then votes on each of these and then votes on whether the Bill should become law.

Becomes Law

If the Bill passes the vote at Stage 3 and is not successfully challenged, the Queen formally agrees it. This is known as 'Royal Assent'. After that, it becomes law.

When a Bill is unsuccessful

There are 2 main ways that Bills are unsuccessful:

Fallen

If MSPs do not agree with what the Bill is trying to do, then they can vote against it at the end of Stage 1 or at Stage 3. The Bill is then described as 'fallen'.

Withdrawn

A Bill can be withdrawn by the person who proposed it. If it has already completed Stage 1, MSPs must agree to the withdrawal.

What can the Scottish Parliament make decisions about?

The Scottish Parliament can make decisions about many things like:

  • Agriculture and Fisheries
  • Education and Training
  • Environment
  • Health and Social Services
  • Housing
  • Justice and Policing
  • Local Government
  • Some aspects of Tax and Social Security

These are 'devolved matters'.

Only the UK Parliament can make laws about some things like:

  • Defence
  • Employment
  • Immigration
  • International Development
  • Trade and Industry

These are 'reserved matters'. 

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