Part 2 – Programme of Measures and Commitment to Legislation Including on The Right to Food
Programme of Measures
Scottish Ministers remain committed to the concept and reality of Scotland as a Good Food Nation. As work on the Good Food Nation policy has progressed, it has become increasingly clear that Ministers have already driven and overseen the development of a wide range of policies across Government that are contributing to the delivery of the Good Food Nation ambition.
A great deal of work is already happening now to make a real and positive difference to the lives of the people of Scotland: helping to improve their access to, and understanding of, the benefits of healthy local foods; ensuring sustainability of our food industry; and looking to grow Scotland's reputation as a Good Food Nation from which other countries can learn.
Scottish Ministers published the "Good Food Nation Programme of Measures" on 11 September 2018. This highlights the significant range of work that is already being done – or is planned - to develop the Good Food Nation ambition in Scotland across the five key areas identified by the Food Commission, i.e. Health, Social Justice, Knowledge, Environmental Sustainability and Prosperity.
Commitment to legislation
The Good Food Nation Programme of Measures is evidence that the delivery of policy actions can often mean quicker and more tangible results than are possible through legislation. There is more to be done and so we will continue to take forward work that does not require legislation but is making a real difference to the lives of people in Scotland.
Whilst legislation is not the only way to make progress, Scottish Ministers recognise that there is a clear place for legislation to underpin the significant work already being done. Ministers made this point strongly during a debate in the Scottish Parliament on 13 September 2018 to celebrate Scotland's food and drink success story. The nature of the debate underlined the importance of food and drink in Scotland to the economy, to the environment and to all of us.
This consultation invites your views on the means to achieve the outcomes we are seeking in relation to the Good Food Nation ambition, including through legislation. The consultation will inform our further development of policy in this important and cross-cutting policy area.
Right to food
There has been long-standing interest amongst human rights campaigners and civil society organisations regarding the possibility of "incorporating" the right to food into domestic law.
The UK, on becoming a Party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1976, agreed to recognise the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for themselves and their families, including adequate food.
Scottish Ministers undertook, in response to recommendations from the Short Life Working Group on Food Poverty in 2016, to explore whether a right to food might potentially be reflected in domestic legislation.
This consultation proposes that the legislation which establishes the Good Food Nation framework will have regard to the international human rights framework, in line with Scotland's well-established human rights obligations. Rather than seeking to incorporate a right to food in isolation from any larger package of human rights measures, the Good Food Nation framework will focus on embedding processes for ensuring that the substance of the right to food has effect as a matter of everyday good practice.
The option of exploring a right to food which is directly enforceable as a matter of Scots law has not been ruled out. It is best considered, however, as part of the wider work on incorporation currently being done by the First Minister's Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership. The Group reported in December 2018 and full account will be taken of its recommendations, including in relation to incorporation of the right to food.
We are, of course, fully committed to ensuring that Scotland respects, protects and fulfils the human rights set out in United Nations and other international treaties. This includes practical action which tackles both the symptoms and the causes of food insecurity.
Scottish Ministers have already sought to embed food rights at the heart of public policy by continuing to challenge directly the causes of food insecurity. This includes mitigating the impact of UK welfare reform policies such as the bedroom tax, promoting the living wage, and by embedding a rights-based approach in the design and delivery of our new Scottish social security system. Through the Fair Food Transformation Fund, we are supporting communities to put dignity at the forefront of responses to food insecurity. Our approach is further informed by our vision for a Fairer Scotland.
In addition, human rights and the UN Sustainable Development Goals have now been integrated within Scotland's new National Performance Framework. This ensures that human rights, equality and specific rights such as the right to food will be increasingly located at the centre of policy-making and delivery, not only for the Scottish Government but also for the wider public sector.
Email: Gordon Gilchrist