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Guidance published on instructing parliamentary counsel

19 January 2018

Guidance for Scottish Government officials on instructing parliamentary counsel has been published as part of a UK-wide initiative to share knowledge of legislation and how it is made.

Intended to help develop policy and produce instructions for primary legislation of certain commonly occurring types, the guidance has been co-produced by all four legislative drafting offices in the UK, and is based on research by the National Archives concerned with identifying common legislative solutions to common policy issues such as establishing a new public body or creating a licensing regime.

Its purpose is to assist policy officials with instructing one of these "common legislative solutions", with a view to making the initial instructions for primary legislation as rigorous and detailed as possible, and making the process of drafting bills more efficient in turn.

Sections cover formulating strategies and imposing duties of collaboration, as well as other specific issues such as designation of bodies, powers of entry, fixed penalty notices and preventative orders.

The Parliamentary Counsel Office is publishing the guidance as a companion piece to the legislative drafting manual Drafting Matters!, published in 2016.

Writing in the foreword, Andy Beattie, Chief Parliamentary Counsel, says his Office hopes the publication will help to make the process of instructing legislation more transparent and accessible, not just to those working within government, but to the wider public. 

He comments: "It represents an excellent example of civil service collaboration, exemplifying principles of mutual respect and cooperation in the carrying out of one of our most essential public functions, the instruction and creation of good law.

"We would welcome suggestions and feedback on this guidance from all those who take an interest in legislation as we work to continuously improve the quality of Scotland’s law."

Click here to view the guidance.