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Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill

Overview

The Bill contains temporary changes. These will help public services continue to operate during this emergency situation. It also includes changes to support businesses and people who use public services. These reflect changes to the way people can live and work during the emergency situation.

The Bill includes:

  • measures to ensure that business and public services can continue to operate well
  • changes to the obligations and duties on public services
  • changes to the law on evictions that will protect renters
  • changes to criminal procedure to ensure that essential justice business can continue

The Bill contains the following safeguards:

  • most of the measures in the Bill will expire 6 months after they come into force (they could be extended up to a maximum duration of 18 months, if the Parliament approves this)
  • where a measure is no longer needed, Scottish Ministers can bring it to an end earlier
  • Scottish Ministers must review and report on the measures every 2 months

You can find out more in the Explanatory Notes that explains the Bill.

Why the Bill was created

The aim of the Bill is to respond to the emergency situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The Bill adds to the changes that affect Scotland that were made by the Coronavirus Act 2020 (“the 2020 Act”). This Act was passed by the UK Parliament on 25 March 2020.

The coronavirus outbreak is a severe and sustained threat to human life. A severe pandemic could infect a large number of people. Public health measures are needed to control and limit the spread of the outbreak. Public health guidance means changes to:

  • the lives of everyone living in Scotland
  • the way business in Scotland operates
  • the way public services are delivered and regulated

Large parts of workforces may be unable to work. Others are being re-deployed to prioritise essential services.

The Bill makes changes to some of the duties of public bodies. This will let them focus on work which responds to the coronavirus outbreak. It makes changes that will:

  • allow essential public services to continue to be delivered
  • support businesses
  • protect the health of people living and working in Scotland

You can find out more in the Policy Memorandum that explains the Bill.

Becomes an Act

This Bill passed by a vote of 80 for, 0 against and 0 abstentions. It became an Act on 6 April 2020.

Introduced

The Scottish Government sends the Bill and related documents to the Parliament.

Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill as introduced

Related information from the Scottish Government on the Bill

Opinions on whether the Parliament has the power to make the law (Statements on Legislative Competence)

Information on the powers the Bill gives the Scottish Government and others (Delegated Powers Memorandum)

Scottish Parliament research on the Bill 

Financial Resolution

The Presiding Officer has decided under Rule 9.12 of Standing Orders that a financial resolution is required for this Bill.

Stage 1 - General principles

This is an Emergency Bill progressing and completing through Scottish Parliament in one day.

Emergency Bill procedure

The Parliament agreed that the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill should be treated as an Emergency Bill at the meeting of the Parliament on 1 April 2020.

An Emergency Bill is a Government Bill that needs to be enacted more quickly than the normal timetable allows.

An Emergency Bill must be introduced as a Government Bill first and then be changed to an Emergency Bill by the Parliament, on a motion by a Cabinet Secretary (or Minister). Stages 1 to 3 of an Emergency Bill are taken on the same day unless the Parliament agrees to an alternative timescale.

Stage 2 of an Emergency Bill must be taken by a Committee of the Whole Parliament. 

Debate on the Bill

A debate for MSPs to discuss what the Bill aims to do and how it'll do it.

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Stage 1 debate on the Bill transcript

1 April 2020

Financial resolution

A financial resolution is needed for Bills that may have a large impact on the 'public purse'.

MSPs must agree to this for the bill to proceed.

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Financial resolution transcript

1 April 2020

MSPs agreed that this Bill could continue

Stage 2 - Changes to detail 

MSPs can propose changes to the Bill. The changes are considered in the Chamber and then voted on by the Committee of the Whole Parliament.

Changes to the Bill

MSPs can propose changes to the Emergency Bill – these are called 'amendments'. The changes are considered then voted on by the Committee of the Whole Parliament.

The membership of a Committee of the Whole Parliament is all 129 MSPs.

How is it decided whether the changes go into the Bill?

When MSPs want to make a change to a Bill, they propose an 'amendment'. This sets out the changes they want to make to a specific part of the Bill.

The Committee of the Whole Parliament then votes on whether it thinks each amendment should be accepted or not.

First meeting on amendments

Documents with the amendments considered at the meeting held on 01 April 2020:

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First meeting on amendments transcript

1 April 2020

Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill with Stage 2 Amendments

Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill printing changes after the Bill as amended at Stage 2

Stage 3 - Final changes and vote

MSPs can propose further changes to the Bill and then vote on each of these. Finally, they vote on whether the Bill should become law

Debate on the proposed changes

MSPs get the chance to present their proposed amendments to the Chamber. They vote on whether each amendment should be added to the Bill.

Final debate on the Bill

Once they've debated the amendments, the MSPs discuss the final version of the Bill. The final vote on the Bill was taken directly after the debate and is included here.

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Final debate transcript

1 April 2020

Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill as passed

The Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill had no further amendments at Stage 3. The Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill with Stage 2 Amendments is the final document for this Bill. 

This Bill was passed on 1 April 2020 and became an Act on 6 April 2020. 
Find the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 on legislation.gov.uk

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