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UPDATE: British Sign Language (Scotland) Bill - Stage 3

21 July 2015

The bill is considered by the whole Parliament.

Amendments can be made at this stage. Any MSP can submit an amendment to the Bill. If there are amendments submitted at this stage, these will be looked at before the debate. Once these have been looked at, there will be a debate on the amendments considered by the Education and Culture Committee at Stage 2. 

If there are too many amendments submitted at Stage 3, then the Bill will go back to stage 2 so that the Education and Culture Committee can take further evidence on these amendments and decide if they can go through to the Stage 3 debate. If this happens, then the Stage 3 debate will take place later in the year. 

Once the Stage 3 debate has taken place, there will be a vote by all the MSPs who are in the Chamber at the time. If enough MSPs agree - the majority, the Bill will pass. If enough do not agree, then the Bill falls. 

Royal Assent

After the 4 week period is finished, the Presiding Officer (Tricia Marwick MSP) of the Scottish Parliament submits the bill for Royal Assent.

Once the bill receives Royal Assent, it becomes an Act of the Scottish Parliament

All bills passed by the Scottish Parliament must be signed by the Queen before they can become law. This procedure reflects the fact that Scotland remains part of the UK and all UK legislation must get the Royal Assent.

Royal Assent and the Great Seal of Scotland

Royal Assent is needed for a bill to become an Act of the Scottish Parliament.

The Queen must give their consent for a bill to become a law. It is the final check that the Scottish Parliament is doing a proper job in passing laws that will be suitable for the country. This is now only part of the formal process, as the Queen very rarely says “No” to a new law.

How does Royal Assent happen?

Once a bill has been passed, there is a 4 week period when the bill may be challenged by the law officers of Scotland and England:

  • Advocate General (for Scotland) (Lord Keen of Elie) or the
  • Lord Advocate (for Scotland) (Frank Mulholland QC) in Scotland. Or by the
  • Attorney General (England & Wales) (Jeremy Wright QC) or by the
  • Secretary of State for Scotland (David Mundell) in Westminster.

Each person on the list above gets a letter from the Scottish Parliament to say that the Bill has passed.

A challenge to a bill would normally only happen if the bill is based on something that is not a devolved matter or if it would badly affect reserved matters, or the Scottish Parliament wishes to reconsider the bill. It should not happen with the BSL (Scotland) Bill since the Scottish Government is supportive of this Bill.

If no objection is made by the law officers, or the four week period has passed, the Presiding Officer writes to the Queen sending her a copy of the Bill and a Royal Warrant for her to sign – these are then delivered to Buckingham Palace.

When the Bill and Royal Warrant are returned to the Scottish Parliament, the Warrant is hand-stitched together.

The documents then go to Registers of Scotland, followed by the National Records of Scotland, in Edinburgh, where the Great Seal of Scotland is applied.

Notices are then placed in the official journals of record: the London, Edinburgh and Belfast Gazettes signalling that Royal Assent has been given.

Then the Bill is part of the laws in Scotland.