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Scottish General Election (Coronavirus) Bill


The Bill as introduced allows arrangements to be put in place for the Scottish general election in response to Covid-19. The election is planned for 6 May 2021. The Bill will:

  • change the deadline for postal vote applications to give more time to process an expected high level of requests to vote by post

  • make “dissolution” (the time before the election when MSPs no longer hold office) last 1 day, allowing the Parliament to make decisions if the election needs to be postponed

  • give the Scottish Ministers power to hold an all-postal election and to hold polling over multiple days, if appropriate

  • allow flexible timing for the first meeting of the new Parliament and the election of a new Presiding Officer

  • give a reserve power to the current Presiding Officer to postpone the 2021 election by up to 6 months in certain circumstances

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

Why the Bill was created

The next Scottish general election is scheduled to be held on 6 May 2021.  It’s expected Scotland will remain under Covid-19 restrictions into 2021.  This Bill was created to make sure the election is held on 6 May 2021 as planned and to provide options if it looks like this is not possible closer to the time.

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

Where do laws come from?

The Scottish Parliament can make decisions about many things like:

  • agriculture and fisheries

  • education and training

  • environment

  • health and social services

  • housing

  • justice and policing

  • local government

  • some aspects of tax and social security

These are 'devolved matters'.

Laws that are decided by the Scottish Parliament come from:

Government Bills

These are Bills that have been introduced by the Scottish Government. They are sometimes called 'Executive Bills'.

Most of the laws that the Scottish Parliament looks at are Government Bills.

Hybrid Bill

These Bills are suggested by the Scottish Government.

As well as having an impact on a general (public) law, they could also have an impact on organisations' or the public's private interests.

The first Hybrid Bill was the Forth Crossing Bill.

Members' Bill

These are Bills suggested by MSPs. Every MSP can try to get two laws passed in the time between elections. This 5-year period is called a 'Parliamentary session'.

To do this they need other MSPs from different political parties to support their proposed law.

Committee Bill

These are Bills suggested by a group of MSPs called a committee.

These are Public Bills because they will change general law.

Private Bill

These are Bills suggested by a person, group or company. They usually:

  • add to an existing law

  • change an existing law

A committee would be created to work on a Private Bill.

Bill stage timeline

The Scottish General Election (Coronavirus) Bill is currently at Stage 1


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

Scottish General Election (Coronavirus) Bill

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.

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