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Friday 30  July 1999





The Presiding Officer has determined that the "proper form" of Bills, for the purpose of Rule 9.2.3 of the Standing Orders, is as follows.



The text of a Bill should be set out in numbered sections, supplemented where appropriate by numbered schedules. Bills may be divided into numbered Parts and Chapters (as may schedules). Each section, schedule, Part and Chapter should have a brief descriptive title. The sections of a Bill (or the paragraphs of a schedule) may also be grouped under italic cross-headings as a guide to the structure of the Bill (or the schedule).

Sections may be divided into numbered subsections, which in turn may be divided into paragraphs, sub-paragraphs etc. Schedules may be similarly divided into numbered paragraphs, sub-paragraphs etc.

The numbering conventions for the provisions of the Bill should be as for current Acts of Parliament, save that Parts and Chapters should be assigned arabic rather than roman numerals.

Each Bill should be prefaced by a long title beginning "An Act of the Scottish Parliament to …".


Style and presentation

The text of Bills (sections, schedules and the long title) should be printed in Times New Roman font, 11.5 point, fully justified. Section numbers and titles should appear in bold, with each section title appearing above the text of the section. Units of text smaller than sections and paragraphs of schedules should appear as indented blocks of text with straight left margins. There should be a running header throughout the body of the Bill containing the Bill’s short title and page number together with, where appropriate, any Part and Chapter titles or schedule and schedule Part titles.

Bills of more than around six sections should be printed with a Contents page or pages similar in layout to the "Arrangement of Sections" in a current Act of Parliament. The text of the Bill, including the long title, should be printed with line numbers every fifth line. The Bill should be printed with a back sheet setting out the short and long titles, the name of the member who introduced it, the date of introduction, the names of any supporters and the type of Bill.

Where it is appropriate for repeals and revocations to be listed in a schedule, that schedule should be set out in two columns, the first giving the short title and number of each statute affected, in chronological order; the second listing the provisions to be repealed or revoked.




The Presiding Officer has made the following recommendations about the content of Bills. (Note: these recommendations do not form part of the determination of "proper form".)


Style and content

A Bill should be drafted so that, when read with any relevant existing statutory provision, its intended legal effect is clear.

A Bill should include provision for the short title by which the Act may be cited. The long title should set out the principal purposes of the Bill.

The text of a Bill – including both the short and long titles – should be in neutral terms and should not contain material intended to promote or justify the policy behind the Bill, or to explain its effect. (In relation to Executive Bills, such material may be included in the Policy Memorandum or Explanatory Notes that accompany the Bill on introduction.) The text of the Bill itself should be identical to the text of the Act to which it is intended to give rise and, in particular, should refer to the Bill as "this Act".

Although it is not expected that non-Executive Bills are drafted to the same standard as Executive Bills, any proposed Bill that has such severe deficiencies in drafting that it could not readily be understood or, if enacted, would be manifestly incapable of consistent legal application, should not be introduced.

A Bill whose principal purpose (or one of whose principal purposes) is to make provision manifestly outside the legislative competence of the Parliament should not be introduced.

Any Bill introduced as a Public Bill should not normally contain provisions that would affect a particular private interest in a manner different from the private interest of other persons or bodies of the same category or class. Where a Bill introduced as a Public Bill does contain such provisions, or is amended to include such provisions, it may be necessary for the Parliament to establish procedures similar to those applicable to Private Bills to allow persons or bodies who would or might be adversely affected by those provisions to make representations to the Parliament.

Any Bill intended to extend other than to the whole of Scotland should set out that intended extent. Any Bill intended to come into force other than on the day of Royal Assent should either give a date or dates for commencement, or make provision for the appointment of the relevant date or dates. Any Bill containing provisions that would confer power to make subordinate legislation should specify what powers, if any, the Parliament is to have to approve or reject the subordinate legislation (or draft subordinate legislation) laid before it under those provisions.

Any Bill introduced to give effect to a proposal for a Member’s Bill (under Rule 9.14) should only contain provisions that are broadly in conformity with the terms of the successful proposal.


Preparation for introduction

The text of a Bill should be submitted to, or agreed with, the Clerk in writing or by e-mail in sufficient time before the proposed date of introduction to allow it to be prepared for printing. No Bill may be printed under the authority of the Parliament except by the Clerk. The Clerk will ensure that the printed version of the Bill appears in proper form, as that is determined by the Presiding Officer for the purpose of Rule 9.2.3 of Standing Orders.

Where the text of a Bill is supplied to the Clerk signed by the member proposing to introduce it (or by supporters), the Bill may only be introduced in that member’s name (or be printed with the names of those supporters) if, in the view of the Clerk, the version of the Bill to be introduced is substantially the same in terms of its legal effect as the version that was signed. Where the only differences between the two versions are differences of form or style, including changes made by the Clerk to ensure the Bill appears in print in proper form, signatures on the earlier version will be accepted as satisfying the requirement of Rule 9.2.4 that a Bill is signed before introduction.




Once a Bill has received Royal Assent, the resulting Act of the Scottish Parliament (ASP) will be published by Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. The legislative text will appear in the same form as in the Bill, while the overall presentation of the ASP will be similar to that of current Acts of Parliament. Where, on an Act of Parliament, the Royal Arms appear, the Scottish Royal Arms will appear on an ASP. Each ASP will be assigned an "asp number" in place of a chapter number, and there will be an enactment formula giving the date on which the Bill for the ASP was passed or approved by the Parliament and the date on which it received Royal Assent.




The Presiding Officer has determined that the form of amendments to Bills, for the purpose of Rule 9.10.1 of the Standing Orders, is as follows.


Form of amendments

Each amendment shall propose only one change to the text of the Bill; and each amendment to an amendment shall propose only one change to the text of that amendment.

No amendment shall leave out or insert more than one section or schedule.

Amendments to leave out sections or schedules shall be in the form "Leave out section/schedule x"; and amendments to substitute new sections or schedules for existing ones shall be in the form "Leave out section/schedule x and insert— [text of new section/schedule]".

Amendments to insert new sections or schedules shall normally be in the form "Before/After section/schedule x, insert— [text of new section/schedule]".

Amendments to existing sections or schedules shall normally begin "In section/schedule x, page y, line z, …" and shall be to "leave out", "leave out and insert" or "insert" blocks of text or words.

In all amendments, words in the Bill referred to and text to be included in the Bill shall be framed with angle brackets (e.g. after <word> insert <words>).

Amendments to leave out whole subsections or paragraphs of schedules shall do so by reference to those subsections or paragraphs, but amendments to leave out other defined blocks of text shall do so by reference to lines. Amendments to leave out words shall do so by reference to those words or, where that would make the amendment unreasonably long, by reference to the first and last words to be left out.

In amendments to leave out words and insert new words, the first or last words to be inserted shall not normally be the same as the first or last words to be left out.

No amendment shall leave out or insert any item of text smaller than a word.

Amendments to insert blocks of text into the Bill shall set out those blocks of text in the form in which they would appear in the Bill, except that blocks of text that would, if part of the Bill, be numbered shall either be un-numbered in the amendment or numbered so as not to require re-numbering of existing provisions of the Bill.

Amendments to the long title shall begin "In the long title, page x, line y, …".

Amendments to amendments shall begin "As an amendment to amendment x, …" and shall, where appropriate, refer to the proposed text to be amended by reference to subsection, schedule paragraph or line.


Printing of amendments

All amendments and marshalled lists shall be printed in Times New Roman font, 11.5 point, so that text to be inserted into Bills by amendment appears as it would in the Bill.

Each amendment shall be prefaced first by the name of the member proposing it and then by the names of any members supporting it.

All amendments for each Stage shall be numbered in the left margin in a single sequential order, with numbers allocated in the order in which amendments are first printed. Each amendment shall retain the number first assigned to it for the duration of the Stage. Amendments to amendments shall have the same number as the amendments to which they relate, followed by letters (A, B, etc.) assigned in the order in which those amendments relate to the original amendment.


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