The glossary provides definitions for parliamentary terms to help you understand the Parliament and how it works.  The terms are arranged alphabetically so select a letter to find the term you would like to have explained.


backbench, backbencher

Colloquial terms, derived from Westminster, that are used to denote those MSPs who are not Ministers, party leaders or party spokespersons. Sometimes also used of all MSPs other than Ministers and Presiding Officers.

Barnett formula

A population-based formula used to determine changes in each devolved administration’s spending allocation from the UK Parliament. Named after Joel Barnett, Chief Secretary to the Treasury in the late 1970s.


A draft Act introduced into Parliament.

bill as amended at Stage 2

The print of a bill as it was amended at Stage 2.

bill as passed

The print of a bill as it was passed by the Parliament, before it receives royal assent.

block grant

Sometimes called the Assigned Budget or Scottish Block. Strictly that part of the grant paid to the devolved administration that is covered by the Barnett formula – in Scotland’s case at present, all spending within the Departmental Expenditure Limit. Often used to refer either to all funding received from Westminster, or to refer to the entire Scottish Budget.

British-Irish Council (BIC)

An institution established as part of the 1998 Belfast (‘Good Friday’) Agreement to promote consultation and co-operation between the British and Irish Governments, the devolved administrations, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. More information is available on the BIC website (

Broadcasting Office

The Broadcasting Office is the office responsible for providing broadcast pictures and sound from The Scottish Parliament.  As well as being used by broadcasters, these feeds are used for webcasting and archival purposes. The office also produces edited packages for use in internal and external communications.

budget (or budgeting) process

The three-stage annual process for the parliamentary consideration of the Scottish Executive’s expenditure plans.

Budget Act

An Act authorising the Scottish Executive's expenditure for the coming financial year.

budget bill

An Executive bill for a Budget Act.

budget documents

The documents that accompany a budget bill.


See Parliamentary Bureau.

Business Bulletin (BB)

A daily publication containing details of current and future business.

Business Information Technology (BIT)

Business Information Technology (BIT) is the office responsible for providing the technological infrastructure, systems, services and applications that are required to support and enable the business of the Parliament and the administration of the organisation.

business manager

Colloquial term for the MSP appointed by his or her party leader to be that party’s representative on the Parliamentary Bureau and to organise that party’s contributions to debates and other parliamentary business. Equivalent to a 'chief whip' in Westminster. Groups formed under rule 5.2.2 may also have a business manager.

Business motion

A motion seeking the Parliament’s approval of the Parliamentary Bureau’s proposals on the business programme, which may be moved, and notice of which may be given, only by a member of the Parliamentary Bureau.

business programme

The agenda for parliamentary business.


The method of filling a constituency vacancy arising during a parliamentary session.

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