Briefing No. 122 Sept. 2005
The First Minister has announced the programme of legislation for the remaining 19 months of the parliament in the run up to the 2007 elections. He presented it as a programme:
• for justice and respect
• to ensure no child is left behind or held back
• for health improvement
• and for growing economic prosperity for all of Scotland to share
This briefing sets out the main bills as they impact on UNISON members.
SCOTTISH HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION BILL
Establish an independent and statutory Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC). The SHRC will have legal powers to obtain information. However, the SHRC will not be able to investigate individual complaints, provide support to individuals for taking cases through the courts, or bring cases in its own name. The SHRC will not deal with reserved issues. Human rights in relation to reserved matters will be dealt with by the proposed Great Britain Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR), which is also to take over the role of the existing statutory commissions in relation to equality issues.
This bill will replace existing court orders with a single Permanence Order, Allow joint adoption by unmarried couples (including same-sex couples) and fostering by same-sex couples. There will be better adoption support services for adoption and foster carers together with clear rights to information about adoption for those involved.
CHILDREN'S HEARINGS AND INTEGRATED SERVICES BILL
The Bill will encourage all agencies to look at the child's needs and ensure that action is taken in an integrated and co-ordinated way. Integrated assessment, recording and planning will reduce paperwork and streamline activity to allow those working with children to deliver the service.
HEALTH PROMOTION, NUTRITION AND SCHOOLS BILL
The Bill will build on the progress made through Hungry for Success in improving the quality, attractiveness and nutritional value of schools meals. By putting the Hungry for Success nutritional standards on a statutory footing, it will effectively restrict the food on sale in schools to healthy options. It will also place a duty on local authorities to promote uptake of school meals, and also ensure that the school environment is health promoting. However, free school meals will remain targeted on those most in need.
SCOTTISH SCHOOLS (PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT) BILL
The Bill places a new statutory duty on education authorities to promote parental involvement. This includes a new, flexible representative system for parents. There will be a duty on every headteacher to provide a report to parents on their school's performance and ambitions with parental rights to request information and raise their concerns directly with Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT (ELECTORAL ADMINISTRATION AND REGISTRATION SERVICES) BILL
Modernising elections and improving the security of absent voting following the recommendations of an Electoral Commission study. The reorganisation of registration district boundaries to match those of local authorities and allow registration of a birth or death of a person to be carried out anywhere in Scotland. Together with a range of proposals to simplify registration.
SUMMARY JUSTICE REFORM BILL
Setting minimum national standards for the recruitment, appraisal and training of lay justices. Unifying administration of the Scottish courts system, by bringing district courts (which are currently run by local authorities) under the management of SCS. Increasing the level of fiscal fines and sentencing powers of sheriffs sitting summarily to a maximum 12 months imprisonment and £10,000 fine. Widening the range of circumstances in which accused can be tried in their absence.
A new regime for the release and supervision of prisoners. Criminalise kerb-crawling and clamping down on violent and abusive pornography. Legislation to improve how hate crime is dealt with and restricting the sale of knives and swords.
POLICE, PUBLIC ORDER AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE BILL
Bring together common police services such as the Scottish Police College and Scottish Criminal Record Office, along with the new Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency into a Scottish Police Services Authority. Establish an independent Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland to oversee non-criminal complaints against the police.
Introduce Football Banning Orders, mandatory drug testing and assessment for people arrested for drug or drugs-related offences and amend the law and sentences on knife crime. Reform the law on marches and parades, introduce a system where those accused of a crime could receive a reduced sentence or immunity in return for providing information or evidence and give police the power to require a person to divulge their date and place of birth, to help identify them on the criminal record system.
LEGAL ASSISTANCE AND LEGAL PROFESSION BILL
Changes to the handling of complaints against lawyers and the provision of publicly-funded legal advice and assistance
JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS & REMOVAL BILL
Place the independent Judicial Appointments Board on a statutory basis and set out the arrangements for removal of a judge from office on grounds of inability, neglect of duty or misbehaviour.
Establishing the National Planning Framework to secure the delivery of national policies and programmes and a new process for developments of national strategic importance, applications for key large-scale development proposals, and for the majority of planning applications that are of local importance. Moving to a single tier of local development plans everywhere apart from the four largest city regions and a range of administrative reforms. No third party right of appeal.
VULNERABLE ADULTS BILL
The Bill will create a list of those who are unsuitable to work with vulnerable adults - and help ensure that the frail, elderly and vulnerable population gets the same level of protection as children.
Provide a secure legal footing for the new tourism network established on 1 April 2005 by a merger between 14 Area Tourist Boards and the Scottish Tourism Board.
Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Bill
Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill
Crofting Reform Bill
Bankruptcy and Diligence Etc (Scotland) Bill
Transport and Works (Scotland) Bill