Bills and laws
- What is a Bill?
- Types of Bill
- Why are new laws made?
- How are new laws suggested?
- What happens if a Bill does not become an Act?
Types of Bill
These are Bills that have been introduced by the Scottish Government. They used to be called "Executive Bills".
Most of the Bills that the Scottish Parliament looks at are Government Bills.
These are Bills introduced by MSPs (Members of the Scottish Parliament) who are not Scottish Government Ministers. MSPs can personally introduce 2 Bills in the period between elections. This period is called a “parliamentary session”. A parliamentary session usually lasts 5 years.
Before a Member’s Bill can be introduced, the MSP must first submit, or “lodge” a proposal. A proposal is a short outline of what the Bill would do. The MSP must consult with the public on the proposal, and then get support from other MSPs in different political parties.
MSPs often get help from a team of Scottish Parliament staff, the Non-Government Bills Unit (NGBU), to turn their proposal into a Member’s Bill.
These are Bills suggested by a group of MSPs in a committee. The Convener of the committee will introduce the Bill.
You can find out more about committees on our committee pages.
Committee members might ask the NGBU for guidance on a Committee Bill.
Government Bills, Member’s Bills and Committee Bills are all types of Public Bills.
Public Bills can change the public and general law. This is law that affects people right across Scotland.
These are Bills suggested by a person, group or company from outside the Scottish Parliament.
They usually relate to a particular place, or to how a particular group or organisation works. They don’t normally affect the general public or society as a whole.
Special rules for Private Bills allow people, groups and companies to “object” to the Bill if they think it will makes things worse for them.
A committee is created to examine a Private Bill. The NGBU manages the Private Bill process. They give guidance to the person or people who are promoting the Private Bill, and to anyone who objects to the Bill.
These are Government Bills that affect private interests in a certain way.
As well as having an impact on the general law, they also have an impact on organisations' or individuals’ private interests.
The NGBU is responsible for managing the Hybrid Bill process. The first Hybrid Bill was the Forth Crossing Bill.
An Emergency Bill is a Government Bill that needs to be enacted more quickly than the normal timetable allows.
An Emergency Bill must be introduced as a Government Bill first and then the Parliament must agree to treat it as an Emergency Bill. Stages 1 to 3 of an Emergency Bill are all taken on the same day unless the Parliament agrees to an alternative timescale.
Stage 2 of an Emergency Bill is normally taken by a Committee of the Whole Parliament unless the Parliament agrees to an alternative approach.
Royal Assent may be given more quickly than normal after the Bill is passed.