CONSIDERING A BILL IN THE SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT: STAGE 3 PROCEEDINGS Today’s business includes Stage 3 legislative proceedings. This note is intended to help you follow those proceedings, including introducing you to the most important documents used during them. Stage 3 is the final stage for consideration of any public Bill and is in two parts. The first is consideration of any amendments to change the Bill. This is followed by a debate on whether the completed Bill should be passed. If you wish to follow proceedings at Stage 3 in detail, you may find it helpful to have the following three documents: • the Bill itself, • the Marshalled List of Amendments, • the list of Groupings of Amendments. The Bill This document is the draft law which MSPs are considering. If the Bill has been amended in committee at Stage 2, the MSPs will be considering the Bill As Amended. The Bill contains line numberings in the margins to help identify where in the Bill new amendments are being proposed. The Marshalled List of amendments This is a list of all the proposed amendments to the Bill selected by the Presiding Officer, set out in the order in which they will be decided upon. (This “marshalled” order is set out near the top of the first page of the list.) This document is where to look to see the text of any amendment. Each amendment is identified by a number in the left-hand margin, by which it will be referred to in debate. Above each amendment is the name of the member who lodged it. The list of Groupings The Presiding Officer can group amendments for debate. One reason for grouping is to cut down on repetition (so that two or more amendments making similar changes for similar reasons to different parts of a Bill don’t each have to be debated separately). Another is so that two or more amendments which offer alternative ways of addressing the same matter can be debated together. The list of Groupings sets out how amendments are to be grouped and therefore which amendments will be debated together. The list groups amendments (referred to by their number) under particular headings. The heading may help you identify the general subject matter of those amendments. Sometimes an amendment might be debated on its own, because it deals with a different issue from any other amendment. The list of Groupings also sets out when debates on particular groupings should be concluded. These time limits are agreed to by the Parliament in advance of stage 3 proceedings in order to ensure that the timetable for the whole day’s business is adhered to. Stage 3 explanatory leaflet June 2005 Following the consideration of amendments We hope that having these three documents will help you to follow today’s Stage 3 business. Please note that because of the Presiding Officer’s power to group amendments, the order in which amendments are debated may not always follow the order in which they are being formally decided upon – so following the debate may sometimes involve jumping between the Groupings and the Marshalled List. For example, the first group might include an amendment that appears near the end of the Marshalled List. That amendment will be debated early on but not decided upon until much later. Unless time is limited, in every debate on a group, the Presiding Officer will call to speak every member who has lodged an amendment in that group, and will try to find time to call other members wishing to take part. The first member called in a debate on a group (the person who lodged the first amendment in that group) will usually have the chance to sum up the debate. As it is a key principle that each amendment should only be debated once, after an amendment in a group has been debated, no opportunity to debate it again will arise when it comes to be decided upon. Debate on whether the Bill be passed After all amendments have been dealt with, the next step is for the Parliament to debate whether the Bill should be passed. The debate, which normally lasts around 30 to 40 minutes, is on the merits of the Bill as a whole, rather than on particular amendments to it. The member in charge of the Bill (who will be the relevant Executive minister if it is an Executive Bill) will have an opportunity to speak, as will the main party spokespeople and, if time allows, other members. The Parliament will then be asked whether the Bill is agreed to at Decision Time (normally at 5pm). The Bill will become an Act approximately one month after being passed, when it receives Royal Assent (although some or all of the Act may not come into force until later still). Your views Please help us improve our practices by answering the following short questions and handing the completed sheet over to any member of staff: 1 Did this leaflet help you to understand the debate? Not at all A little It was quite helpful It was very helpful 2 Did having the other documents help you understand the debate? Not at all A little It was quite helpful It was very helpful 3 Do you have any suggestions for improvement?
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