Holyrood to vote on emergency Covid-19 legislation

MSPs are expected to pass the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill later on Wednesday.

MSPs are expected to pass emergency legislation to tackle coronavirus in a rare one-day sitting on Wednesday.

Introduced on Tuesday by constitutional relations secretary Mike Russell, the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill will make changes to the legal system, rental sector and public services as a result of the virus.

MSPs will be asked to grant emergency status to the Bill on Wednesday morning, allowing the three-stage process to take place in a single day.

If emergency status is granted, the stage one debate will take place immediately.

Stage two will then start, should MSPs agree to the general principles of the Bill, when parliamentarians will be able to table amendments.

Stage two usually takes place in a committee room but the coronavirus legislation will be taken in the chamber, with MSPs acting as the committee and the presiding officer as the convener.

Stage three will then move forward for MSPs to pass any further amendments and subsequently vote the legislation through Parliament.

In normal circumstances, a four-week period begins after the Bill is passed by Parliament to allow for any legal challenges but this has been shortened in previous emergency Bills.

If each of the hurdles are passed, the Bill will be presented for royal assent before it becomes law.

If the legislation is passed on Wednesday, it will become the first in almost a decade to be completed in just one day.

The last time a Bill was passed this quickly was the Criminal Procedure (Legal Assistance, Detention and Appeals) (Scotland) Bill, which stated police officers would not be able to question suspects without a lawyer being present.

That legislation received royal assent two days later.

At a briefing in the Scottish Government’s headquarters in Edinburgh on Tuesday, Mr Russell said the Bill was devised with help from opposition parties, increasing the likelihood it will pass when put before MSPs.

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