Thank you Robbie.
As Robbie stated, I am going to discuss the process for Bills to become law at Holyrood. 3 types of Bills can be passed at Holyrood, these include Public, Private and Hybrid Bills. Most Bills passed are public Bills and I will be discussing the stages that this public Bill takes to become law. There are different types of public Bills for example –
Gov bills which are introduced by a minister,
Committee bills introduced by one of the parliamentary committees
and member’s bills which are introduced by individual MSP’s.
The process these Bills take is dictated by the Scotland Act of 1998 as it explains Parliament can only legislate for or in relation to Scotland so therefore all Bills passed must only be relevant to Scotland. More importantly however, in section 36, subsection 1 of the Scotland Act, it requires that there be at least 3 distinct stages to a bill and unlike Westminster, Bills do not start off with Green or White paper drafts.
Since the major function of a parliament is to make laws it was important that the whole legislative process (how laws are made) was devised keeping the four key principles in mind. The legislative process is based on the idea that Parliament itself should be strong, that the people of Scotland from all walks of life, pressure groups, and regions should participate and share power. A key element of the process is to ensure openness and encourage participation.
In order to share the power to influence policy, arrangements have been made to allow Parliament and interested individuals and groups to be consulted about proposed legislation before it becomes a bill. This pre-legislative consultation is designed to be open and participatory, allowing access to the decision-making process. This system prevents the government from being selective about which pressure groups have an opportunity to be consulted before policy is devised.
The outcome of the consultation process must be attached to draft bills (as a memorandum) and so the views of pressure groups and any opposition to the proposals are open and public at an early stage.
Although there are different ways laws can be proposed and therefore different types of bills, all legislation must pass through three basic stages:
Stage 1The bill is sent to a Parliamentary Committee for consideration and the committee writes a report.
Parliament may refer the bill back to the Committee for a further report.
Parliament then considers the general principles of the bill. The whole Parliament votes on whether the bill should proceed, taking the committee’s report into account
If Parliament agrees then the bill will proceed
If Parliament does not agree then the bill will fall
Stage 2, The bill then undergoes more detailed “line-by-line” scrutiny, either by the appropriate Committee, the whole Parliament, or a combination of the two. Amendments (changes) may be made at this stage
Stage 3 The bill is considered by the whole Parliament.
Amendments can be made at this stage
Up to half of the sections of the bill may be referred back to stage 2 for further consideration.
Only amendments that were referred back for consideration at stage 2 are debated now.
The Parliament then votes on the bill.
If Parliament agrees, the bill is passed
If Parliament does not agree the bill falls
Once a bill has been passed there is a four week period when the bill may be challenged by the Advocate General, the Lord Advocate or the Attorney General or by the Secretary of State for Scotland.
This would normally occur if the bill is deemed to be outside the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament (i.e. not a devolved matter) or if it would adversely affect reserved matters, or the Parliament wishes to reconsider the bill.
Royal Assent is the final stage in the legislative process for acts of the Scottish parliament. The process is governed by sections 28, 32, and 33 of the Scotland Act 1998. After a bill has been passed, the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament submits it to the monarch for Royal Assent after a four week period, during which the Advocate General for Scotland, the Lord Advocate, or the Attorney General may refer the bill to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom (prior to 1 October 2009, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council) for review of its legality. Royal Assent is signified by letters patent under the Great Seal of Scotland in the following form which is set out in The Scottish Parliament (Letters Patent and Proclamations) Order. Fascinating I know, I will now pass over to Jacob to explain this