Accessibility Options Printer friendly Email us Contact us

Breastfeeding etc. (Scotland) Act 2005 [S]

An Act of the Scottish Parliament to make it an offence to prevent or stop a child who is permitted to be in a public place or licensed premises from being fed milk in that place or on those premises; to make provision in relation to the promotion of breastfeeding; and for connected purposes.

Main Provisions in the Act

The purpose of section 1 of the Act is to safeguard the right of a child under the age of two years of age to be fed milk in a public place or licensed premises, where the child is otherwise lawfully permitted to be.

The Act does not affect Scottish licensing law, nor does it prevent a business from excluding breastfeeding on its premises where the lawful custom or practice is to exclude children generally.

Where a child is lawfully permitted to be in a public place or licensed premises, that child may be fed bottled milk, and the child's mother (or any other woman who has charge of the child) will be entitled to breastfeed him or her if she so chooses.

Any person who deliberately prevents or stops (or attempts to prevent or stop) a person from bottlefeeding or breastfeeding a child in such circumstances will be guilty of an offence, liable on conviction to fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale (currently £2,500).

Section 4 of the Act requires the Scottish Ministers to directly promote and support breastfeeding. The health benefits of breastfeeding for both mothers and babies are increasingly recognised, both worldwide and in the UK.1 By recognising and protecting a child's right to be breastfed, the Bill would support the take up and duration rates of breastfeeding.

Where a mother, father or carer decide to bottlefeed their child the Act ensures that this can be done without hindrance in certain public or licensed premises. Often the reason why carers decide to bottlefeed their child is because of social and cultural attitudes. The Bill aims to help tackle and address negative attitudes in Scotland.

While the purpose of the Act is to safeguard a child's right to be fed milk in a public place (where that child is otherwise lawfully permitted to be) the Act should also help to encourage the take-up and duration of breastfeeding. Any increase in the take-up and duration of breastfeeding in Scotland would assist the health and opportunities of children generally.


Lead committee:

Health Committee

16/12/03 - Bill introduced to Scottish Parliament (by Elaine Smith)

Preliminary (Stage 1) discussion of bill:

Health Committee on 13 January 2004; 20 April 2004

23/01/04 - Health Committee calls for evidence on general principles a Stage 1

Stage 1:

Discussion at Committees:

Finance Committee on 27 April; 11 May 2004

Health Committee on 11 May 2004; 1, 8, 22, 29 June 2004

Subordinate Legislation Committee on 22 June 2004

23/09/04 Stage 1 Debate in Scottish Parliament

23/09/04 Bill passed at Stage 1 (see link to debate for more information)

Stage 2:

02/11/04 - Final day of consideration at Stage 2 Health Committee meeting.

Stage 3:

18/11/04 - Stage 3 Debate

18/11/04 - Bill passed at Stage 3

18/01/05 - The Breastfeeding etc. (Scotland) Act 2005 received Royal Assent.

Further Information

  1. Breastfeeding etc. (Scotland) Bill Policy Memorandum
  2. SB 04-02 Responses to the Consultation on the Child Health and Breastfeeding (Scotland) Bill
  3. Breastfeeding etc. (Scotland) Bill Financial Memorandum
  4. Breastfeeding etc. (Scotland) Bill Marshalled List of Amendments for Stage 2
  5. Breastfeeding etc. (Scotland) Bill (as introduced)