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About Bills

Bills and laws


What happens if a Bill does not become an Act?

Not all Bills will become an Act. 


If MSPs do not agree with what a Bill is trying to do, they can vote against it at the end of Stage 1 or at Stage 3. If a majority of MSPs vote against a Bill then it will not pass and it falls.

Bills can also fall if they have not completed Stage 3 by the end of a Parliamentary session. These Bills can be reintroduced in the next session and the process would begin again from the start. 


A Bill can be withdrawn by the minister, MSP, person, group or organisation that suggested the Bill. If a Bill has already finished Stage 1 then the Scottish Parliament must agree to the Bill being withdrawn. 


After a Bill has been passed, the Supreme Court might decide the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to pass the Bill. 

The Supreme Court may also decide that the Bill had to be passed by a ”super-majority”. A super-majority means at least 2/3 of MSPs (86 MSPs) voted in favour of the Bill.  A super-majority applies if the Bill affects:

  • certain things about the number of MSPs to be elected
  • how MSPs are elected

The Secretary of State can also issue an order to stop the Bill being submitted for Royal Assent. In each of these cases, the Parliament can agree to reconsider the Bill.