Human Rights Bill: Wider Implementation Working Group minutes - September 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 27 September 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Aer Nicholson Clasby, Third Sector Equality Human Rights and Equality (THRE)
  • Brenda Tonner, Scotland's Housing Network
  • Donna Brodie, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency
  • Carolyn Anderson, Skills Development Scotland
  • Craig Bryce. Enable Scotland
  • Caroline Rothwell, Creative Scotland
  • Catherine Barile, Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland
  • Denisha Killoh, Stonewall
  • Donald Paterson, Education Scotland     
  • Ealasaid MacDonald, Bòrd na Gàidhlig
  • Eileen Cawley, Scottish Trade Union Congress
  • Gavin Yates, Enable Scotland
  • Helen Shaw, Scottish Housing Regulator
  • Heather Fisken, Inclusion Scotland
  • Jillian Matthew, Audit Scotland
  • Jane Rice, Prison Service
  • Jennifer McKee, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal
  • Jordan Gorevan, Skills Development Scotland
  • Layla Mooney, SAAS
  • Lucy Mulvagh Health and Social Care Alliance
  • Linda Mitchell, Scottish Commission for Learning Disabilities
  • Liz McNamee, Scottish Prison Service
  • Mary Morgan, NHS National Services Scotland
  • Mark Roberts, Environmental Standards Scotland
  • Marie Paterson, Care Inspectorate  
  • Maria Doyle, Together Scotland
  • Mark Hazelwood, Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care
  • Maxine Jolly, Education Scotland
  • Megan Moffat, Who Cares? Scotland
  • Peter Hamilton, SAAS
  • Polly Lord, Voiceability
  • Rebecca Crowther, Equality Network Scotland
  • Rhona Wilder. Scottish Independence Advocacy Alliance
  • Richard Baker, Enable
  • Rory Morrison, Poverty and Inequality Commission for Scotland
  • Rosemary Agnew, Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
  • Rosie Tyler-Greig, Healthcare Improvement Scotland
  • Stephanie MacGregor-Cross, Social Work Scotland
  • Stephanie Phillips, NHS24
  • Suzanne McGuiness, Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland


  • Katherine Hudson, Poverty and Inequality Commission for Scotland
  • Robert Foster, Who Cares Scotland
  • Sarah D’Agrosa, Scottish Commission for Learning Disabilities
  • Michael Cameron, Housing Regulator
  • Michelle Cooper, NHS Lothian
  • Fiona Robertson, Association of Directors of Education Scotland
  • Sharon Cameron/Sarah Wallage, Scottish Abortion Care Providers Network
  • Jen Goff, Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland

Items and actions


Kavita Chetty welcomed members to the meeting, provided introductory remarks and noted apologies from the members above.

Overview of Bill and scene setting broader context

Trevor Owen provided a background to the Bill and overarching aims, before providing an overview of the Bill process, development so far, and what engagement has taken place with stakeholders and the public to date. 

The team provided a brief overview of Scotland’s recent human rights journey including the First Minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights and National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership recommendations, which led to the Scottish Government’s commitment to introduce a new Human Rights Bill during the 2021-2026 parliamentary session.

It was noted that the Human Rights Bill consultation is live and will conclude on 5 October 2023. Members were encouraged to submit responses and take the opportunity to share views on Bill proposals. Further to this, the group were made aware of the engagement programme that the Human Rights Strategy and Legislation Unit are running which includes a range of stakeholder meetings, in-person and online events and participation at events run by stakeholders. A brief outlined of Bill proposals relating to incorporation, duties, access to justice and implementation was provided, which are also set out in the consultation document.

It was highlighted that the purpose of the Wider Implementation Working Group, which sits within a broader range of engagement groups which are being consulted, is to focus on the requirements for robust implementation and to help the Scottish Government shape proposals in this space. This will include having a focus on proposals for effective Bill implementation and how accountability can be embedded within organisational cultures and overall design of service delivery. 

Members were made aware of the other groups supporting policy development for the Human Rights Bill, including the Advisory Board, Bill Executive Board and Lived Experience Board.

Theory of change 

Kavita Chetty provided an overview of the Scottish Government’s policy prospectus and noted the commitment to take action to mainstream equality and human rights and take forward specific action to address discrimination. An equality and human rights mainstreaming strategy will be developed and brought forward for consultation in due course, and the group will have the opportunity to discuss this in further detail in 2024.  

Members noted the requirement for ongoing engagement on topics critical for effective implementation, including capacity-building for duty-bearers and information and awareness-raising for rights-holders and duty-bearers.

Discussion of terms of reference

The group considered the terms of reference which was shared prior to the meeting. The terms or reference outlined frequency of meetings, membership, etc. 

The group discussed the relationship between the core IWG and the wider group. It was confirmed by the Human Rights Strategy and Legislation Unit that both groups share the same terms of reference and that the core group are discussing the granular detail of policy proposals. Discussion will then be shared with the wider group, providing the opportunity for views and feedback to be gathered from a broader group. 

The group discussed consultation within their own organisations. The Human Rights Bill Team encouraged the group to do this as long as there was capacity to do so. Members were encouraged to take conversations away and assured that feedback is welcome throughout all points of the Bill process. 

Human rights scheme

Ailsa Higgins and Lucy Visocchi provided an overview of the Human Rights Scheme, outlining proposed aims, mechanics of the scheme and proposals on what topics the Scottish Government are considering for inclusion in the scheme, as ‘listed arrangements’. Topics included reporting on human rights budgeting processes, plans or proposals for improvements to access to justice, and guidance to support the implementation of the Bill. The presentation helped to facilitate breakout room discussions. 

Feedback from breakout rooms

  • there was general agreement that it is important that listed groups are clearly defined. This tied to thinking around the interpretative and equality provision, and clearly defining rights-holders. Members stated that care experienced people should be explicitly mentioned as part of listed groups, and not just children and young people generally
  • groups expressed the need to ensure that reporting does not become burdensome for organisations with limited capacity. It was noted that the process should be efficient and avoid duplication with other reporting regimes
  • there was agreement that a five year reporting cycle may be too long and that two to three years would be most appropriate. It was voiced that a reporting period which is too short, or reporting too frequently can dilute the quality of the outcome and that adequate time should be given to ensure that reporting is done well, and that substantial and impactful action can be taken between reporting periods
  • members advised against putting too much detail on the face of the Bill and suggested that detail not necessary for the Bill text could be included as part of statutory guidance or secondary legislation. An example was provided where a 12-week waiting time for NHS appointments has been legislated for, which has reduced flexibility in terms of responding to challenges such as resourcing or other external factors, such as Covid-19
  • the group highlighted the importance of looking at best practice examples from other countries to inform plans
  • members requested early awareness of the topic for discussion, and proposals being presented to the group, so that issues can be discussed in a wider setting before feeding back to the group
  • members commented that capacity building and guidance is important throughout and that we should recognise what resource is available
  • members raised the need for tangible objectives to hold Scottish Ministers to account and to ensure that no groups or rights are being left behind

Any other business 

The next meeting of this group will be Thursday 30 November between 10:00 and 12:00. A calendar invite with a joining link will be sent around shortly after this meeting.  

Members were asked to directly RSVP to the meeting request and asked to let the Human Rights Strategy and Legislation Unit know if they plan to send a representative in their place to the next meeting. 


  • Human Rights Bill Team to share both the PowerPoint slides from the meeting and the membership list for the group
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