Good Food Nation proposals for legislation: analysis of consultation responses

Analysis of responses to the Good Food Nation Proposals for Legislation consultation.

Other provisions

93. The consultation paper noted that where legislation is required to deliver policy intentions in areas which could be seen to contribute to the Good Food Nation ambition, Scottish Ministers believe this should be taken forward through targeted legislation rather than the framework legislation proposed in this consultation. The detail of any targeted legislation would be subject to full consultation at the appropriate time. This would provide a flexibility that would not be possible through the development of a single piece of legislation.

94. Question four went on to ask,

Q4: To what extent do you agree with the proposal for targeted legislation relevant to specific policy areas as an alternative to a single piece of legislation?

95. As shown in the following table, a total of 693 respondents answered this question. While more consultation respondents agreed (35%) than disagreed (23%) with the proposals for targeted legislation relevant to specific policy areas as an alternative to a single piece of legislation, the highest number (43%) noted they neither agreed nor disagreed.

96. Among those agreeing, the highest levels of agreement with the proposed approach came from local authorities, representative bodies / trade unions, third sector food organisations and those within the food / food retail / producer / distributor sector. The highest levels of disagreement came from campaigning / advocacy organisations, those within the academic / research / education sector and faith groups.


  Strongly agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Strongly disagree Not answered
Campaigning / advocacy (13) - - 7 2 3 1
Community group (10) - 1 4 1 1 3
Education / Academic / Research (14) - 2 6 2 4 -
Faith group (10) - - 5 3 2 -
Food / food retail / producer / distributor (17) 4 3 7 2 1 -
NHS / Health (12) 3 1 3 4 1 -
Local authority (16) 1 6 5 - - 4
Representative body /. Trade union (16) 3 3 5 2 - 3
Third sector (food) (16) 1 3 8 - 1 3
Third sector (not food) (35) 1 7 9 7 6 5
Other (16) 1 4 6 1 1 3
Total organisations 14 30 65 24 20 22
Individuals 89 107 230 68 46 87
Total respondents 103 137 295 92 66 109

97. A total of 581 respondents opted to provide further commentary on this question in support of their initial response.

98. Two key themes emerged. The first, cited by 24% of consultation respondents noted a preference for overarching framework legislation into which targeted legislation could then be introduced or felt there is a need for initial framework legislation which could then guide targeted legislation in the future. Linked to this, some other consultation respondents also felt that a single cross-cutting piece of legislation would highlight the importance of good food and send a powerful signal to a wide range of audiences. It was felt this would also help to resolve the fragmented nature of the food system in Scotland and lessen inequalities across Scotland. As noted by an organisation in the campaigning / advocacy sector;

"The Good Food Nation Bill should be framework legislation. It is important to get the framework legislation right, so it does a good job of guiding targeted legislation in the future. Framework legislation needs to have a strong commitment to the right to food, so all future targeted legislation takes full account of human rights.

Both framework legislation and targeted legislation are required to realise the Good Food Nation ambition, and they should work together and strengthen each other. Framework legislation is also required to set up the principles, structures and guidelines that shape the whole food system. Targeted legislation will, following the guidelines set out in the framework legislation, tackle specific issues like reduction of food waste or recycling. We need both framework legislation and targeted legislation, but we must make sure that both work in harmony with each other.

There is definitely a place for targeted legislation in a Good Food Nation, however it is very important that this is underpinned by framework legislation which enshrines the right to food in Scots Law. The Good Food Nation bill should be a piece of framework legislation that ties any future targeted legislation around food together - and acts as an overarching legislation."

99. A local authority also noted that both framework and targeted legislation would be required to deliver the Good Food Nation ambition and commented;

"We believe that both framework and targeted legislation are necessary to deliver the Good Food Nation ambition. Food inequality and insecurity is a significant public health challenge. Linked to this is the problem of modern malnutrition, and other health problems relating to food such as obesity and diabetes. We need to develop and deliver a more sustainable food system; to improve population health, protect our environment and economy and to help tackle climate change."

100. The other key theme, cited by 22% of consultation respondents, was that legislation should include a commitment on the part of the Scottish Government to the right to food.

101. A few consultation respondents noted that an overarching framework and targeted legislation should be applied together, although very small numbers of respondents noted that there is no one option that will meet all needs and that different contexts require different solutions.

102. A similar proportion of consultation respondents felt that whatever legislation is used will need to adopt an integrated approach to cover all relevant policy areas and to ensure that joined-up thinking and partnership working can be applied to Good Food Nation. Once again, these respondents cited a wide range of policy areas which are linked to food policy and these included climate change, human rights, education, health, social care, environment and business. A small number of organisations noted that the Scottish Government has supported system-wide approaches previously and gave the example of signing up to the UN's Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. One faith organisation noted,

"Cross sector collaboration between existing bodies: councils, health, education, social care, environment agency, farmers, retailers and businesses etc is expected, with strong accountability to the public within the good food nation framework legislation. Changes introduced to transform the food system are required to be realistic, time oriented, evidence based and workable and to incorporate regulation of digital advertising and selling of food across the country."

103. A small number of consultation respondents also noted the importance of ensuring that any legislation put forward fits with other policy areas such as the Climate Change Bill or the Scottish Environmental Strategy.

104. Some consultation respondents also commented that whatever approach is adopted will need to be flexible and with a capacity to respond to any future changes within the food sector.

105. Those consultation respondents who supported targeted legislation felt that this offered a number of advantages, which included:

  • Flexibility.
  • A more pragmatic / practical approach.
  • It would be quicker than an overarching framework to implement.
  • It would be more effective.
  • It would help to avoid loopholes.

106. An organisation within the academic / research / education sector which supported targeted legislation commented;

"Good legislation must have a clear purpose, sound drafting and be straightforward to implement. We have seen the historical difficulties associated with the implementation of significant and lengthy Acts that seek to address a multitude of issues in one document. Given the breadth of Good Food Nation issues, it is difficult to see how a single piece of legislation could be competently achieved; therefore, we agree that targeted legislation is more appropriate."

107. That said, very small numbers of consultation respondents felt that different pieces of legislation could conflict with each other.

108. Small numbers of consultation respondents felt there were pros and cons to each approach and that either might work. This may help to explain the relatively high numbers of respondents who neither agreed nor disagreed with this proposal.

109. Small numbers of consultation respondents also noted that there is a need for any legislation to be coherent, well written and understandable and should include targets and timeframes, as well as being monitored to ensure its effectiveness and ensure accountability. As one local authority commented;

"The Bill should explicitly include statutory targets to ensure meaningful change in priority areas, much like those in the Climate Change Act. Examples of what should be statutory targets in the Good Food Nation Bill are: Halving of moderate to severe household food insecurity by 2030, halving childhood and adult obesity by 2030, halving the environmental impact of the food system, including halving food waste by 2030, all workers in the food sector paid at least the living wage and included in collective bargaining agreements by 2025, doubling the percentage of land in organic management by 2025."

110. As at the previous question, some consultation respondents referred to the need for collaboration between existing bodies and government departments and a desire for instigation of a Food Commission.

111. The two campaigns that provided an answer to this specific question both supported framework legislation, echoing other points outlined above.



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