Appendix 4. Features of the Scottish Legislative Process.

In Scotland, the conduct of the public consultation element of bills has taken two forms. “Sometimes they produce a draft bill that is then consulted on, and it’s actually laid out like a bill. But sometimes they produce proposals for consultation, which just say, ‘This will be in the bill, and this won’t be in the bill, and, according to our consultation, this is what should be in the bill.’ With the second option, it’s very much more difficult to tell what will be in the final bill before it goes to Parliament.” This second strategy was adopted by the Executive. “At that stage, when evidence was being submitted, we were aware that the people who we felt might submit evidence to it, like the farmers [and] others, were quite obviously missing” (Interview SPC7). From the perspective of this interviewee, this was unsatisfactory “because it was such a wide-ranging bill” (Interview SPC7).

Respondents described a three-stage process associated with the introduction of bills:

  1. Stage 1, involving wide-ranging consultation, looks at the general principles of the bill, the scope of the bill, and whether the bill, as it’s titled and laid out, meets what it’s objectives are, when the bill is introduced to Parliament.
  2. Stage 2 goes into more detail in committee, when all the information from Stage 1 has been put together in a report on general principles that has been voted on by Parliament.
  3. Stage 3 allows for last-minute amendments when the bills goes back to chamber for a long debate after Stage 2, after which a decision is made on whether or not the bill should be passed and become an act.

Under the Scottish Parliament structure, there is no second chamber, so there is no review chamber as there is in the House of Lords in Westminster, and the compensation has been that the select committees are much more powerful. “They’re [the Committees] the ones who really steer legislation through Parliament, so it’s a different system from Westminster. Select committees [play] much more of an advisory critical role, so they all trade to the select committees. The system is designed to be more transparent and more accessible for people to get involved in” (Interview SPC7). This respondent, reflecting on the first four years of operation of the Scottish parliament, claimed that “people definitely feel that the committees are doing that job, opening it up for others to participate much more. And in the chamber amending exercise on every bill, it’s quite an open debate, and we have others involved, which is good” (Interview SPC7).