Coronavirus Acts: third report to Scottish Parliament (October 2020)

Third two-monthly report to Scottish Parliament on the use of the powers contained within the Coronavirus Act 2020, Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 and Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020 covering the reporting period up to 30 September 2020.

This document is part of a collection

2. Background

Reporting requirements

2.1. The UK Act received Royal Assent on 25 March 2020. The Scottish Parliament gave its consent to the provisions of the UK Act as far as they relate to devolved matters on 24 March 2020.

2.2. Section 97 of the UK Act sets out the requirements for the UK Government to report on the status of non-devolved provisions within the UK Act every two months.

2.3. The UK Act does not set out an equivalent statutory requirement for reporting by the Scottish Government or other Devolved Administrations. However, as per the approach in our previous reports to the Scottish Parliament, in this third report we have included information on the provisions of the UK Act for which the Scottish Parliament gave legislative consent, in a manner which is consistent with the reporting arrangements for Part 1 of both of the Scottish Acts.

Extension and expiry of the Scottish Acts

2.4. Under section 12 of the first Scottish Act and section 9 of the second Scottish Act, Part 1 of both Acts were due to expire on 30 September 2020.

2.5. Part 1 of the Scottish Acts can only be extended in their entirety and not on a provision by provision basis. This can only be done through regulations with the agreement of the Parliament, and anything that should not be extended has to be expired through separate regulations.

2.6. On 24 August 2020, the Coronavirus (Scotland) Acts (Amendment of Expiry Dates) Regulations 2020[3] (the 'extension regulations') were laid in draft before the Parliament, together with a Statement of Reasons[4] for the regulations. The Coronavirus (Scotland) Acts (Early Expiry of Provisions) Regulations 2020[5] (the 'expiry regulations') were laid in Parliament on the same day. Both sets of regulations came into force on 29 September 2020.

2.7. The extension regulations extend the expiry date of Part 1 of both Scottish Acts to 31 March 2021. The expiry regulations, expired paragraphs of those Acts which were no longer required beyond 29 September 2020.

2.8. In taking the decision to seek to extend both Scottish Acts, Scottish Ministers gave careful consideration to the requirement to balance the needs of many stakeholders and partners who wish to see the powers remain available, against the commitment given when the Acts were introduced that the provisions would not remain in place unless necessary. Expiring provisions which were no longer required, and suspending through separate regulations[6] provisions which are not required at this time - but may be required at a future point - reflects the commitment given when the legislation was introduced that powers should not be in place for longer than they are needed. The approach that was taken was judged to be proportionate and appropriate to the scale of the ongoing risks posed by coronavirus.

2.9. Further information is included within the Policy Notes which accompany the regulations, and in the Statement of Reasons which is published on the Scottish Government's website. Table One of this report includes information on which provisions of Parts 1 of the Scottish Acts have been expired and suspended.



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