8. The Heat in Buildings Bill
8.1 Throughout this consultation document we talk about our plans to have a ‘Heat in Buildings’ Bill and the new laws that it would create.
8.2 To help the public understand when these new laws might start to take effect, the diagram below shows the next steps for the Bill, and how it would progress through the Scottish Parliament should the Scottish Ministers choose to take their plans forward.
The Bill process explained:
The government will publish its plans and ideas, to understand the level of support they have from the public (especially those most-affected).
The consultation document also allows people who may support the overall intent of the plans, to suggest changes to points of detail.
This is the stage that the Heat in Buildings Bill is at.
The government will draft a Bill, based on the ideas presented during consultation, and possibly adapted based on any feedback it may have received.
The draft Bill is ‘laid’ in Parliament, alongside the government’s analysis of the financial and other impacts of the Bill.
3. Stage 1
The Scottish Parliament Committee with most-interest in the Bill will consider the Bill. It will invite experts to give their views on the Bill, and it may undertake its own consultation. The Scottish Government will also speak to the Committee about the need for the Bill, and the proposals it makes.
The Committee will provide a Report, summarising its views on the Bill, before a vote takes place on the Bill in the Scottish Parliament chamber. This vote is to determine if MSPs support the ‘general principles’ of the Bill – i.e. what it is trying to achieve, as opposed to the specifics of how it will achieve its aims.
4. Stage 2
Should the Scottish Parliament agree to the general principles of the Bill at Stage 1, it will proceed to Stage 2 where MSPs who sit on the Committee can propose changes to the Bill (amendments).
If an amendment is supported by a majority of Committee members, it is passed, and the Bill is changed. The Scottish Government may also make amendments to the Bill at this Stage – for example, in response to feedback from the Committee’s Report at Stage 1.
5. Stage 3
Once all Stage 2 amendments have been considered, the Bill is re-printed to reflect any changes that were agreed.
The Bill then moves on to Stage 3, where a final vote on the Bill takes place in the Scottish Parliament chamber. If the Bill receives a majority vote (in most cases), it will become law. If it does not receive a majority vote, it will not become law.
6. Royal Assent
If the Bill is passed, it must receive Royal Assent from the King. This usually takes place within four weeks of Stage 3, and officially makes a Bill an ‘Act of the Scottish Parliament’.
New laws do not necessarily take effect when they are passed by the Scottish Parliament at Stage 3, nor when they receive Royal Assent.
Many Acts need ‘secondary legislation’ or ‘regulations’ before they can take effect. This is often because the legislation would be too long or detailed to include in the Act itself, or because changes to laws need to take place quickly without the need to go through the various steps set out above.
In the case of the Heat in Buildings Bill, secondary legislation may be needed, for example, to specify the measures which will form the minimum energy efficiency standard or to say which people may be exempt from the need to meet the Heat in Buildings Standard.
Any secondary legislation or regulations that may be needed in future, would be subject to further consultation.
8.3 We intend to pass the Heat in Buildings Bill by the end of this term of the Scottish Parliament (in May 2026) but have not provided any specific dates about when the new laws would apply (should they be passed by the Scottish Parliament). This is because it is for the Scottish Parliament to decide when it will consider the Bill, at each Stage.
8.4 We provide this process though, so that the public understands that this consultation is the start of a process we are on, together as a country, to determine how we will remove emissions from our homes and workplaces and reach net zero.
8.5 We will listen to you throughout this process, and once again encourage you to respond to this consultation before it closes on 8 March 2024.
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