Business and the Parliamentary Bureau

The agenda for the parliament is decided by the Parliamentary Bureau, which agrees a weekly business motion. Chaired by the presiding officer, it is made up of representatives of each party with more than five MSPs and meets in private. Representatives' votes are weighted in line with their parties' seats in the parliament, so the executive can use its block vote to control business.

Twelve half-days are allocated to committee business and sixteen half-days are given over to non-executive parties. The Bureau also nominates committee members and designates the lead committees for bills.

Its decisions are put to the parliament by the business minister as Parliamentary Bureau motions. Any vote on a business motion is taken immediately, rather than at decision time. Other votes are postponed until decision time.

The presiding officer can grant emergency debates and statements in response to events or to calls from individuals.

When the parliament is sitting, it in plenary session on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The order of business is normally as follows:


Statement (if any)
Debates or legislation
Decision time
Short debate


Debates or legislation
Questions to the First minister (FMQs)
Break for lunch
Questions to Scottish ministers
Statements or Urgent Questions (if any)
Debates or legislation
Decision Time
Short debate