Case study

This page studies the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill’s passage through the Parliament to show how the law-making process works in practice. Full details of the bill, including all related documents, can be found on the bill’s webpage.

What was the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill? 

  • Like most bills, the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill was a Government bill. It was introduced by the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing.
  • The bill sought to introduce same-sex marriage and make various general changes to the law on marriage and civil partnerships. 

How was the bill considered?

Stage 1 

(26 June – 20 November 2013)

a) Committees

The lead committee was the Equal Opportunities Committee (EOC).


  • Written evidence: the EOC received more than 1,200 responses to its call for evidence.
  • Oral evidence: the EOC held five meetings at which they questioned representatives from a range of organisations.
  • The Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee (DPLRC) discussed the bill at three meetings. This included asking questions of Scottish Government officials about the delegated powers in the bill.
  • The DPLRC published its report to the Equal Opportunities Committee on the bill.
  • Stage 1 report: the EOC considered its draft stage 1 report on the bill in private at three meetings.
  • The Equal Opportunities Committee published its stage 1 report on the bill. It noted:  

“The majority of the Committee supports the general principles of the Bill and recommends that Parliament approves the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill at Stage 1. A minority of the committee does not support the Bill because they disagree in principle or because they are not convinced that adequate protections are in place. We wholeheartedly support the right of individual members to decide on the Bill as a matter of conscience.”

b) The Parliament


  • The Parliament debated the general principles of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill in the Chamber. 
  • The Parliament agreed to the general principles of the bill after a vote. 98 MSPs voted in favour of agreeing to the general principles, 15 voted against and 5 abstained. 

Stage 2 

(20 November 2013 – 16 January 2014)


  • Amendments to the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill were considered by the Equal Opportunities Committee at two meetings. In total, 77 amendments were lodged at stage 2. There is a case study of part of the first meeting.
  • A Supplementary Delegated Powers Memorandum was published. This described measures in the bill giving Scottish Ministers power to make subordinate legislation that were introduced or amended at stage 2.
  • Revised Explanatory Notes were published to reflect the amendments made to the bill at stage 2.  

Stage 3

(16 January – 4 February 2014)


  • At the start of the meeting, the Parliament agreed a motion setting out time limits for consideration of the groups of amendments. As lots of MSPs wanted to take part in the debates, these time limits were extended later in the meeting.
  • After consideration of amendments, MSPs debated the motion whether the bill should be passed. At Decision Time, the Parliament voted in favour of passing the bill. The result of the vote was: For 105, Against 18, Abstentions 0. 

After stage 3

The bill received Royal Assent and became the Marriage and Civil Partnership Act 2014.

You can find out about the implementation of the Act on the Scottish Government website

For a timeline of the bill's passage through the Parliament, see the link below.



There is also a PDF version here:

 Timeline (346KB pdf).

What are delegated powers?

‘Delegated powers’ are the powers that a bill would give (usually to Scottish Government ministers) to make subordinate legislation, or to issue directions, guidance or codes of practice. 

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