- 31 Jul 2019
Date received: 9 Jul 2019
Date responded: 31 Jul 2019
- When the following consultation “https://consult.gov.scot/family-law/review-of-the-genderrecognition-act-2004/“ was opened to the public, how where and when was it communicated to the general public?
- Is/was the procedure and practicalities of connecting with public awareness identical to other public consultations?
- Is ScotGov required to accept input from outside of Scotland?
I will address each of your requests in turn.
When the following consultation “https://consult.gov.scot/family-law/review-of-the-genderrecognition-act-2004/“ was opened to the public, how where and when was it communicated to the general public?
The publication of the consultation was highlighted by email to a range of groups and organisations, including those listed in Annex K (at https://www.gov.scot/publications/review-gender- recognition-act-2004/pages/21/), as well as to a number of individuals who had asked the Scottish Government to inform them of the consultation’s publication. These requests followed on from the Scottish Government’s public commitments in 2016 made in the Fairer Scotland Action Plan (at http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/10/9964/0) and the Programme for Government (at http://www.gov.scot/programme2016) to review and reform the 2004 Act.
Any individual or organisation interested in consultations or other news from Scottish Government can sign up in advance to be issued with alerts about consultations being published by email at https://register.scotland.gov.uk/Subscribe/Step1. Over 2,800 individuals and organisations are signed up to receive such alerts. The consultation Citizen Space page noted that the following groups and individuals might have a particular interest in engaging with and responding to the consultation: (a) equality, welfare and rights; (b) law and order; and (c) children and families.
On publication of the gender recognition consultation on 9 November 2017, the Scottish Government issued a news release (https://www.gov.scot/news/gender-recognition-act/) and highlighted the consultation on social media. In addition, the Scottish Government included the news story about the consultation https://www.gov.scot/news/gender-recognition-act/ in the daily digest news email that we send out. On 9 November 2017 when the consultation was published 14,419 subscribers received that email. 2,562 recipients opened the email and of those 137 clicked through to the https://www.gov.scot/news/gender-recognition-act/ news story.
The then Cabinet Secretary issued a statement through the Fairer Scotland blog at https://blogs.gov.scot/fairer-scotland/2017/11/14/gender-recognition-consultation-vital-conversation/. The publication of the consultation was reported on television (on both the BBC and ITV) and in online news as well as in articles in both national and local newspapers.
Is/was the procedure and practicalities of connecting with public awareness identical to other public consultations?
Officials in the Family Law Team in the Justice Directorate worked with other colleagues in Scottish Government and public sector organisations as part of the preparations for the consultation. You can find information about the consultation preparation process and those involved in the Scottish Government FOI Release at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/foi-17-02964/.
The content of the gender recognition consultation and other documents or actions taken associated with it such as the content of the news release referred to were approved by the Scottish Ministers. Each Scottish Government consultation will have a different context. Guidance to officials indicates that the consultation exercise undertaken should, where there is no legal requirement to carry out the consultation, be appropriate for the type of policy and the needs of the intended audience. Decisions about how a particular consultation is undertaken will be taken in the light of the relevant facts and circumstances.
You can see a range of Scottish Government consultations through Citizen Space at https://consult.gov.scot/.
Is ScotGov required to accept input from outside of Scotland?
On occasion, a consultation or a particular form of consultation is a legal requirement.
As stated in paragraph 1.04 of the gender recognition consultation (at https://www.gov.scot/publications/review-gender-recognition-act-2004/pages/3/) the Scottish Government was consulting following on commitments made in both the Fairer Scotland Action Plan (at http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/10/9964/0) and the Programme for Government 2016 (at http://www.gov.scot/programme2016).
Paragraph 1.05 of the consultation said that the views expressed in consultation responses along with other available evidence would help inform the Scottish Government’s decisions. In our experience, consultation responses from groups and individuals based or resident outwith Scotland can provide useful information as part of that process, such as around the international experience of law reform.
Further, a change in the law of Scotland may also affect people and organisations who live outwith, or are based outwith, Scotland. The gender recognition consultation, for example, sought views around the options for who should be able to apply for legal gender recognition under the proposed Scottish arrangements. Under the existing arrangements applying to the United Kingdom, a person residing outwith the United Kingdom can apply, and if successful, where they were born in a constituent part of the United Kingdom, they can access an updated birth certificate.
It is not unusual for Scottish Government consultations to receive responses from individuals and organisations based outwith Scotland. In this case, the analysis report of the consultation responses (at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/review-gender-recognition-act-2004-analysis-responses-public-consultation-exercise-report/ ) was able, based on the information requested in the respondent information form (at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/review-gender-recognition-act- 2004/pages/11/ and in Citizen Space) to provide information which relates to responses from Scotland, from the rest of the United Kingdom and from the rest of the world.
In practice, the Scottish Government is unable to validate an individual respondent's residence.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House