SUMMARY OF LEGISLATIVE PROGRAMME
Summary of the Year 4 (2014-15) legislative programme
The annual Budget Bill provides Parliamentary approval for the Scottish Government's spending plans, allowing the allocation of resources to our strategic objectives and supporting progress towards our vision of a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish through increasing sustainable economic growth.
The Education Bill will further progress the Scottish Government's support for Gaelic education and its commitment to recognising, respecting and promoting children's and parental rights.
Higher Education Governance Bill
The Higher Education Governance Bill will implement a number of the key recommendations of the Review of Higher Education Governance in Scotland, which was led by Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski. The Bill will ensure that the principles of democracy, transparency and democratic accountability are further embedded in the governance of all higher education institutions in Scotland, now and for the future.
The Carers Bill is an important part of the Scottish Government's wider programme of Health and Social Care reform. The Bill will extend the rights of carers, including young carers. The Bill will make a meaningful difference to carers and will contribute towards the improvement of their health and wellbeing, ensuring that they can continue to care and to have a life alongside caring.
Public Health Bill
The Public Health Bill will include measures to reduce the attractiveness and availability of non-medicinal e-cigarettes and tobacco. It will also ensure that the courts can deal with those extreme cases where people in care settings have suffered the worst cases of neglect and ill-treatment, and it will introduce a statutory organisational duty of candour for providers of health and social care.
Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill
The Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill will provide police and prosecutors with clear powers to detect and prosecute those responsible for the trafficking of human beings and will ensure that relevant agencies work together and provide clear rights for victims to access support.
Fatal Accident Inquiries Bill
The Fatal Accident Inquiries (FAI) Bill will provide the legislative framework needed to implement the remaining recommendations of Lord Cullen's Review of the operation of the Fatal Accident and Sudden Deaths Inquiries (Scotland) Act 1976 to help modernise the way FAIs are handled in Scotland. The Bill will repeal the current Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths Inquiries (Scotland) Act 1976 and enact new legislation to govern the system of FAIs in Scotland to ensure that it keeps pace with other reforms to the justice system.
Community Justice Bill
The Community Justice Bill will provide the legal framework for implementing changes to community justice structures. The changes will ensure that community justice is given the profile and priority that is required to reduce reoffending across Scotland. The redesign of community justice forms part of the Scottish Government's response to the report of the Commission on Women Offenders (2012) and the Audit Scotland report on Reducing Reoffending (November 2012).
Land Reform Bill
As part of our ongoing commitment to Land Reform and as part of our response to the Land Reform Review Group's final report, we committed to bring forward a Land Reform Bill within this parliamentary term. The Land Reform Bill will take forward a range of legislative proposals designed to ensure Scotland's land works to the benefit of the people of Scotland, by contributing to both the prosperity and sustainable development of the nation.
The Succession Bill will implement a number of the recommendations contained in the Scottish Law Commission (SLC) Report on Succession which will make the law in this area fairer, clearer and more consistent. In recognition of its technical nature, it is intended, subject to it meeting the necessary criteria, that the Bill will be progressed under the Scottish Parliament's new procedure for implementing SLC reports.
We also plan to consult in the coming year on further legislation on Succession which will aim to radically overhaul the current law in this area. As part of this modernisation the distinction between movable and immovable property would be removed to give children, spouses and civil partners appropriate legal rights over both forms of property. This should ensure a just distribution of assets among a deceased's close family to reflect both societal change and expectations. These changes will be an important aspect of our series of measures in respect of Land Reform.
The Harbours Bill will provide an improved legislative framework for Trust Ports and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of existing procedures and processes for stakeholders, and will in particular remove Scottish Ministers' power to compel Trust Ports to bring forward privatisation proposals.
Community Charge Debt Bill
The Scottish Government will introduce legislation to end collection of historic community charge or Poll Tax debts. It will ensure, following recent high levels of democratic engagement in Scotland, that the electoral registers are not used to pursue historic arrears of community charge, as well as ending ongoing repayment arrangements.
OTHER LEGISLATION BEING TAKEN FORWARD BY THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT
As well as the new programme of Year Bills set out above, a number of previously announced Bills will continue their parliamentary passage. These Bills are:
- Criminal Justice Bill - makes provision to take forward the next stage of essential reforms to the Scottish criminal justice system to enhance efficiency and bring the appropriate balance to the justice system.
- Legal Writings (Counterparts and Delivery) Bill - makes provision to promote business and economic growth and modernise Scots law, consistent with the Scottish Government's National Outcome that "We live in a Scotland that is the most attractive place for doing business in Europe".
- Community Empowerment Bill - makes provision to provide a strategic framework which will empower community bodies through the ownership of land and buildings and strengthen their voices in the decisions that matter to them.
- Welfare Funds Bill - makes provision to set out in statute Ministers' intentions for this new discretionary Fund to provide vulnerable members of the community with a safety net in an emergency, and with help to get household goods to set up home or to enable them to remain living in their community.
- Mental Health Bill - makes provision to streamline, simplify and clarify the system for efficient and effective treatment of people with a mental disorder.
- Food Bill - makes provision to set up Scotland's own food safety and standards body, Food Standards Scotland.
- Air Weapons and Licensing Bill - makes provision for the licensing and regulation of air weapons, and makes provision to improve aspects of locally-led alcohol and civic government licensing in order to preserve public order and safety, reduce crime and to advance public health.
- Prisoners (Control of Release) Bill - will end automatic early release for certain categories of prisoner and it will introduce new flexibility for the Scottish Ministers to bring forward a prisoner's release date by up to two days for the purpose of effective reintegration of a prisoner into the community.
In addition, a number of Bills completed their parliamentary passage in the period since the 2013 Programme for Government was announced and are now being implemented:
- Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 - establishes a national legislative framework for sustainable public procurement, and will ensure the maximum economic benefit is brought to Scotland through efficient and effective public procurement activity.
- Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2015 - makes provision to take forward many of the recommendations from Lord Gill's Scottish Civil Courts Review to ensure cases are dealt with promptly and efficiently, by courts appropriate to the case, and at a proportionate cost to parties.
- Bankruptcy and Debt Advice (Scotland) Act 2014 - will ensure Scotland has a modern system of debt advice and debt management which balances the rights of those in debt with the needs of creditors and business.
- Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 - will improve the way regulation is developed and applied in Scotland, help create a level playing field for business and will provide a more simplified, risk-based approach to environmental protection.
- Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014 - sets the legislative framework for integrating adult health and social care, with a view to ensuring a consistent provision of quality, sustainable care services for the increasing numbers of people in Scotland who need joined up, integrated support and care - particularly those living into older age and people with multiple, complex, long-term conditions.
- Landfill Tax Act 2014 - will replace the UK Landfill Tax with a more flexible system, bringing together environmental and tax compliance, and will enhance provision for those communities affected by their proximity to a landfill site through the Communities Fund.
- Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 - provides new powers to increase the amount and flexibility of early learning and childcare, providing greater parental choice and removing some of the barriers that parents, especially women, face in returning to employment.
- Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act - ensures that same sex couples have the same rights to marriage as opposite sex couples, whilst protecting religious bodies and celebrants who do not wish to take part in same sex marriage.
- Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014 - places the interests of victims and witnesses at the heart of reforms to the justice system, and ensures that offenders contribute financially towards the costs of providing support to victims.
- Tribunals (Scotland) Act 2014 - establishes a new, simplified statutory framework for the tribunal system in Scotland.
- Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Act 2014 - establishes Revenue Scotland on a statutory basis, and provides it with powers which will enable it to take robust action to counteract artificial tax avoidance arrangements.
- Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 - will safeguard tenants' interests, support improvements to housing quality, and secure better outcomes for communities by ending all right to buy entitlements which will protect the existing stock of social rented homes and help the many people in need of social housing.