Programme for Government 2016 to 2017

The Scottish Government's Programme for Government 2016 to 2017 sets out the actions we will take in the forthcoming year and beyond.

This document is part of a collection

The Scottish Government's Legislative Programme for 2016-17

The Scottish Government will be promoting a full programme of Bills for consideration by the Scottish Parliament. Of these, four Bills (Air Passenger Duty, Gender Balance on Public Boards, Railway Policing and Scottish Social Security) will use powers recently devolved under the Scotland Act 2016.

Air Passenger Duty Bill

The Scotland Act 2016 transfers to the Scottish Parliament legislative power over taxing transport of air passengers, allowing a replacement tax for APD to be introduced. This will better reflect our objective of boosting Scotland's international connectivity and economic competitiveness to deliver sustainable growth. The replacement tax is planned to come into effect in April 2018.

The Bill will set out the scope and structure of the tax, including the structure of rates and bands, providing for flight and passenger exemptions. Tax rates will be set by secondary legislation.

The Bill will make provision for the collection and management of the tax, including minor amendments to the Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Act 2014 to ensure broad consistency with collection and management arrangements for other devolved taxes.

Budget Bill

The annual Budget Bill provides parliamentary approval for the Scottish Government's spending plans, allowing the allocation of resources to our strategic objectives and supporting progress towards our vision of a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish through increasing sustainable economic growth.

Child Poverty Bill

The Bill will replace the recently repealed sections of the UK Child Poverty Act 2010 concerning targets and strategies in relation to child poverty. Specifically, the Bill will enshrine in legislation the ambition to eradicate child poverty and place a duty on Scottish Ministers to publish a Child Poverty Delivery Plan every five years and to report on that plan annually.

Contract (Third Party Rights) Bill

The Bill will implement the recommendations contained in the Scottish Law Commission Report on Third Party Rights in Contract. It will reform the current rule of contract law which creates an enforceable right in favour of a third party and replace it with a statutory version. In broad outline, the Bill will:

  • set out how a third party right is created
  • specify how contracting parties lose any power to modify or cancel a third party right
  • provide remedies which a third party has for enforcement of the right, and the defences available against a third party in such enforcement
  • provide for situations in which the third party right is affected by an arbitration clause in the principal contract

Domestic Abuse Bill

The Bill will place Scotland at the forefront of nations in tackling the true nature of domestic abuse which sees around 60,000 incidents reported to police each year of which 79% involve a female victim and a male perpetrator.

Evidence shows there is significant under-reporting of abuse and there is a growing understanding of the damaging impact which non-physical forms of abuse, including controlling and coercive behaviour, can have on victims. Perpetrators can use a range of tactics to psychologically abuse victims, including controlling their finances, what they wear, and their use of social media, and threatening to harm others including children. In a recent Scottish Government consultation more than 90% of people considered the current law does not provide police, prosecutors and courts with sufficient powers to bring perpetrators of abuse to justice.

The new legislation will ensure that psychological abuse, such as coercive and controlling behaviour, can be effectively prosecuted under the criminal law in a way that recognises the abuse that is being perpetrated. It is vital the law reflects our modern understanding of what constitutes domestic abuse so that abusers can be held to account and victims can access justice.

The Bill will:

  • create a new offence of domestic abuse that will include criminalisation of psychological abuse that can be difficult to deal with under existing laws
  • ensure appropriate penalties are available to deal with domestic abusers
  • provide a range of associated measures to modernise the justice system response to domestic abuse

Expenses and Funding of Civil Litigation Bill

The Bill is an important part of the Scottish Government's commitment to making the civil justice system more accessible, affordable and equitable. It will introduce measures to make the costs of civil action more predictable, to extend the funding options for pursuers, and to bring more equality to the funding relationship between claimants and defenders in personal injury actions.

The Bill will include provisions to:

  • introduce sliding caps for success fee agreements in personal injury and other civil actions
  • allow damages-based agreements to be enforceable by solicitors
  • introduce qualified one-way costs shifting ( QOCS) for personal injury cases and appeals, including clinical negligence, and specify the circumstances when the benefit of QOCS would not apply
  • allow for new court rules in respect of third party and pro bono funded litigation, and for legal representatives to bear the cost where their conduct in a civil action has caused needless cost
  • allow for the introduction of a multi-party action procedure in Scotland
  • enable the Auditor of The Court of Session and sheriff court auditors to become salaried posts within the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service

Forestry Bill

The Bill will complete the devolution of forestry. It will:

  • ensure the Scottish Government has control of all aspects of forestry and introduce new arrangements for its governance, development, support and regulation
  • transfer the powers and duties of the Forestry Commissioners - as they relate to Scotland - to the Scottish Ministers. We will then use Scotland Act Orders to wind up the Forestry Commissioners as a cross-border public authority
  • facilitate establishing a forestry and land management body which will focus initially on the development and management of the Scottish Ministers' National Forest Estate. It will have the flexibility to use land for a variety of purposes and the potential to take on management of other publicly-owned land in the future

Gender Balance on Public Boards Bill

The Bill represents a further significant step towards the realisation of women's equality in Scotland, a goal which remains at the heart of the Scottish Government's vision for an equal Scotland. Using the new competence transferred to the Scottish Parliament through the Scotland Act 2016, the Bill will require positive action to be taken to redress gender imbalances on public sector boards.

The Bill will:

  • apply to non-executive appointments to the boards of Scottish public authorities
  • lock in the gains that have been made in women's representation on public boards in Scotland, ensuring that we continue to build on the positive progress that has been made so far

Housing (Amendment) Bill

The Bill will ensure registered social landlords ( RSLs) continue to be classified as private sector bodies. That classification is at risk because some of the powers of the Scottish Housing Regulator are likely to cause the Office for National Statistics ( ONS), in its current review of the classification of RSLs, to classify RSLs to the public sector as public corporations. In the event of that happening the Bill will provide the basis for the ONS to revisit its decision by:

  • removing the need for the Regulator's consent to the disposal of assets by RSLs
  • limiting the Regulator's ability to appoint members and managers to RSLs
  • removing the need for the Regulator's consent to the restructuring, winding up and dissolution of RSLs

Islands Bill

The Bill will build on the work of the Island Areas Ministerial Working Group and last year's consultation. It will reflect the unique needs of Scotland's islands and include measures such as:

  • provision for island-proof future legislation and policies
  • creation of a National Islands Plan
  • statutory protection for the Na h-Eileanan an Iar Scottish parliamentary constituency boundary
  • greater flexibility around councillor representation (ward sizes) within island communities
  • extension of powers to island councils

Limitation (Childhood Abuse) Bill

The Bill fulfils a recommendation from the Scottish Human Rights Commission by removing a barrier for child abuse survivors to accessing civil justice. Cases of child abuse are considered sufficiently unique to warrant a different regime in relation to the limitation period. The Bill will:

  • remove the three year limitation period for personal injury actions where the person raising the action was a child (under the age of 18) at the time the injury occurred and the act or omission to which the child's injuries were attributable constituted abuse
  • remove the limitation period whether the abuse occurred before or after the commencement of the new provisions
  • apply to abuse that took place after 26 September 1964 - meaning that if an individual suffered abuse prior to 26 September 1964 and did not raise a claim before 25 September 1984, the law of prescription continues to apply and the pursuers' rights will remain extinguished

Railway Policing Bill

The Bill will exercise the competence over railway policing devolved to the Scottish Parliament through the Scotland Act 2016 by conferring railway policing powers on Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority. It will also put in place funding arrangements in respect of those functions in preparation for the integration of the British Transport Police ( BTP) in Scotland into Police Scotland.

Social Security Bill

The Bill is intended to set out an over-arching legislative framework for social security in Scotland and will take forward the Government's priorities for the social security powers that are to be devolved, ahead of the establishment of a new Social Security Agency. Evidence gathered from a wide-ranging consultation on social security will inform the final content of the Bill which will set out an over-arching legislative framework for a new, Scottish social security system. Specific areas on which we are consulting which are expected to be reflected in the Bill include:

  • fixing the Scottish Government's principles for social security in legislation, including the principle that people should be treated with dignity and respect
  • delivering on the Scottish Government's policy commitments, including our commitments to: increase Carer's Allowance to the level of Jobseeker's Allowance, and replace Sure Start Maternity Grants with a new maternity and early years allowance called the Best Start Grant
  • taking a Scottish approach to important social security matters such as helping to ensure that the user's experience reflects our principles, reviewing and appealing decisions and taking care of each individual's information and personal data

Wild Animals in Circuses Bill

The Bill will:

  • ban the use (performance and exhibition) of such animals in travelling circuses on ethical grounds on the basis that this practice is morally objectionable to a large proportion of Scottish society
  • put in place enforcement provisions and sanctions for non-compliance with the ban

Referendum Bill

In addition to these Bills, we will publish for consultation a draft Referendum Bill, in order that it is ready for introduction should the Scottish Government conclude - and decide to seek Parliament's agreement - that independence is the best or only way to protect Scotland's interests in the wake of the EU referendum.

The Scottish Government that I lead will do what we can for each of us every day of this five year parliament

The Scottish Government has a plan. It is a plan that I am asking us all to get behind


Email: Gavin Henderson,

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