Private bills

What is a private bill?

A private bill is a bill introduced by an outside promoter, rather than by an MSP.  The promoter can be one or more individuals or an organisation (such as a local authority or charity).

The aim of a private bill is to give the promoter particular powers or benefits. Unlike public bills, which change the general law that applies to everyone in Scotland, private bills make special exceptions from the general law.  Where a private bill would have a negative impact on particular people or organisations, they are entitled to lodge objections to the private bill. Such objections must then be considered by the committee that is set up to scrutinise the bill. 

Private bills go through a similar three-stage process in the Parliament to public bills – although the stages have different names (preliminary stage, consideration stage and final stage).   

Private bills are usually smaller, and fewer in number, than public bills.

Private bill process

The stages in the passage of a private bill are outlined in the infographic below.

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