This debate is on the first of four motions.
The Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee’s report on private and hybrid bill procedures recommends a number of rule changes to make the rules easier to follow for those engaging with the procedures. The rule changes that have been proposed by the committee relate to the definition of a private bill and assessors, and they also include a number of minor rule changes.
The principle change that has been proposed in relation to the definition of a private bill is to expand and clarify the definition of a private bill. In particular, it will cover situations where the promoter’s main aim is to amend or repeal existing private legislation. An example is where the promoter is an organisation constituted by a private act that needs to be updated to suit modern circumstances. In addition, the proposed rule changes clarify the rule in other minor respects.
The proposed rule change in relation to assessors provides for an assessor to be appointed to assist with the scrutiny of any private or hybrid bill to which objections have been lodged. The committee believed that this would reduce the time commitment for the MSPs on relevant committees.
The SPPA Committee’s report also proposes a series of rule changes to private and hybrid bill procedures. The purpose of those rule changes is to improve the clarity of the procedures, to catch some minor errors, to ensure consistency in wording in different chapters, and to simplify and update the rules more generally. The changes that have been proposed were the subject of internal consultation within the Parliament as well as consultation with Scottish Government officials.
That the Parliament notes the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee’s 6th Report 2021 (Session 5), Standing Order Rule Changes – Private and Hybrid Bill Procedures (SP Paper 973), and agrees that the changes to Standing Orders set out in Annexe A of the report be made with effect from 12 May 2021.