Scotland’s same-sex marriage bill will be introduced in the country’s Parliament next month, the Scottish Government has announced.

The Cabinet Secretary for Health, Alex Neil MSP, answered a question in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon about the equal marriage legislation, from Marco Biagi MSP.

Mr Neil confirmed that the Scottish Government intends to introduce the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill before the summer recess.

He said “substantial progress” had been made on the issue in discussions with UK Culture Secretary Maria Miller.

Labour’s Drew Smith asked Mr Neil when gay couples in Scotland would be able to get married, and if he thought the first weddings “would take place before or after the September 2014 referendum”.

Mr Neil said: “I’m not thinking in terms of a referendum, rather the principles of the bill. Obviously we have given a commitment to introduce this legislation after the extensive consultation we have had as quickly as possible, which is what we’re doing.

“I would hope the timetabling would be such that we could see this bill become law sooner rather than later.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie had written to the SNP Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urging her to press ahead with the Scottish Government’s plans to introduce equal marriage and to outline a “clear timetable”.

Recess starts at the end of June, and the bill is expected to be introduced in the final week of June.

A bill to legalise marriage for same-sex couples in Scotland was formally unveiled by Scottish National Party leader and First Minister Alex Salmond last September.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill for England and Wales finished its third reading in the House of Commons last week.

The bill now goes before the House of Lords and receives its second reading in the Lords on Monday 3 June.