Annex P - Incorporating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into Domestic Law in Scotland Working Group, 8th Meeting
Minutes of Meeting held at Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, at 2 pm on Monday, 24 February 2020
Present: Michael Chalmers, Director, Children and Families Directorate, Scottish Government (SG)(Chair)
Lynda Brabender QC, Westwater Advocates
Michael Clancy OBE, The Law Society of Scotland
Chief Superintendent David Duncan, Police Scotland (teleconference)
Juliet Harris, Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights)
Mairi Macpherson, Deputy Director, Creating Positive Futures, (SG)
Dr. Kenneth Meechan, SOLAR
Kirsty Morrison, Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP)
Dragan Nastic, UNICEF
Lucinda Rivers, UNICEF
Prof. Aoife Nolan, University of Nottingham (teleconference)
Douglas Ross QC, Ampersand Advocates
Clare Simpson, Parenting Across Scotland
In Attendance: Alexandra Devoy, Children’s Rights (Secretariat)
Agnes Rennick, Children’s Rights (Secretariat)
Apologies: Dr. Katie Boyle, University of Stirling
Norma Shippin, NHS
Suki Wan, Scottish Youth Parliament
1. The Chair thanked Members for attending the 8th meeting of the Working Group. The Chair noted that Nicola Dickie and Hannah Ross from COSLA and Laura Pasternak from SYP had moved on to other positions. The Chair thanked these Members for their contributions to the Group. It was noted that Kirsty Morrison was representing SYP at the meeting.
2. The Chair stated the intention for this to be the final meeting of the Group and suggested that any further comments or follow up points would be taken by correspondence.
Minutes of Previous Meeting and Action Points
3. Members agreed the minutes of the previous meeting, dated 21 October 2019. The Chair noted that Actions 1, 2 and 6 were completed. The Chair advised that Actions 3, 4 and 5 would form part of the discussion of item 3 of the agenda (Working Group Report).
Working Group Report – Final Draft
4. The Chair introduced the draft Report, describing its structure and content, and thanked the membership for their participation and contributions to its development. Comments received in correspondence had been taken into account in the current draft. The Chair noted that there had been some differences of opinion as to the most appropriate presentation of views, and proposed that these should be discussed in this final meeting ahead of the Report being agreed.
5. Members discussed in detail how the draft Report might be amended to better reflect the views of all Members. It was agreed that, to address a perceived imbalance in the presentation of views relating to the majority and minority viewpoints, additional context and clarification should be added to paragraph 11 of the draft Report, which described direct incorporation and the views of the majority of Members around the possible benefits of this approach.
6. Further amendments were also agreed to paragraph 12 of the draft, which described the minority of Members’ views around issues relating to full and direct incorporation of the UNCRC and the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament. A specified amendment was also agreed to paragraph 13 of the draft on the transposition of UNCRC rights. Members agreed that these amendments would ensure a balanced presentation of the issues, whilst also appropriately reflecting the views of both the majority and minority of Members.
Action: It was agreed that paragraphs 11, 12 and 13 would be amended to ensure a balanced presentation of the views of Members.
7. The Chair invited any further final comments on the draft Report. The following points were raised:
- There was some discussion about the consistent use of language across the Report, including its Annexes, and whether published documents could be retrospectively amended. Members agreed that there should not be changes to the substance of previously agreed papers. [The Scottish Government will consider any smaller, non-substantive adjustments, as required].
- Members agreed that the final Report should be published in two formats: one which would contain the Report and all of its Annexes in full; and a second that would include the Report with the Annexes attached as hyperlinks.
- A Member suggested that the Report should be made accessible to children and young people, and should be brought to their attention when further engagement events are held. The Chair agreed to consider this.
Action: The secretariat agreed to:
- publish two versions of the Report as discussed at paragraph 7; and
- consider the development of an accessible version of the Report, once published.
8. The Chair advised Members that the secretariat would circulate a further version of the Report alongside the minutes of this meeting and invite any final comments. The Chair noted that, when Members are content, the Report would be sent to Ministers and published on the Scottish Government website.
9. The Chair thanked Members, on behalf of Scottish Ministers, for their assistance in considering different potential models for the incorporation of the UNCRC into domestic law in Scotland. The expertise of the membership was invaluable in taking this work forward.