1.1 This is one of a number of volumes of Guidance published by the Scottish Parliament, each one covering a distinct area of Parliamentary proceedings.

1.2 Other volumes cover:

1.3 The Scottish Parliament is a creation of statute and must act in accordance with the terms of the Scotland Act 1998. That Act provides, in section 22, that the proceedings of the Parliament shall be regulated by Standing Orders. This includes the proceedings of the committees. Only the Presiding Officer has the power (under Rule 3.1.1(c)) to determine any question that may arise as to the interpretation of Standing Orders.

1.4 This Guidance provides information about current working practices within the committees. However, provided that the Act, Standing Orders and Presiding Officer’s determinations are complied with, whilst this document may provide a useful source of reference, the committees can develop their own working practices. It cannot supersede the Act, Standing Orders or Presiding Officer’s determinations and, provided committees comply with the requirements of those documents, any resolutions of the Parliament and the general law, the Guidance is not mandatory and committees can continue to develop their working practices.

1.5 The Guidance is primarily intended as a source of reference for MSPs and Parliamentary staff but is also a useful source of reference for anyone wishing to follow committee proceedings or who wishes to contribute to the work of the committees by, for example, submitting evidence or acting as a committee adviser.

1.6 Anyone wishing to obtain detailed information about the work of individual committees should refer to the Committees pages on the Parliament’s website.

1.7 This Guidance is published only in electronic format and every effort will be made to ensure that it reflects current practices and procedures.

1.8 The Guidance was prepared by the Committee Office in the Parliament’s Clerking and Reporting Directorate, and comments and suggestions should be addressed in the first instance to the Head of the Committee Office who can be contacted at the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh EH99 1SP or by e-mail at


1.9 One of the founding principles of the Scottish Parliament is recognition of the need to promote equal opportunities for all.

1.10 The Conveners Group has agreed that consideration of equalities issues should be mainstreamed into the work of all committees.

1.11 This means that not only is each committee responsible for equality proofing legislation which it scrutinises, but also that equal opportunities criteria underpin the processes and mechanisms which support the committees in their other work and, in particular, in conducting inquiries. Committees, therefore, include equal opportunities considerations in matters such as identifying advisers, consultees and witnesses as well as identifying equal opportunities impacts as part of the inquiry and legislative processes.

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