Legislative wheels in motion

In the chamber last week, two bills reached stage 3, which is the final stage at which proposed legislation can be amended in the Scottish Parliament. Following the consideration of amendments, a debate is held on a motion that the bill in question be passed.

On Wednesday afternoon, after being amended in a number of ways, the South of Scotland Enterprise Bill, which will set up a new enterprise agency for the south of Scotland, went on to be passed, with the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing, declaring it

“a momentous day for the south of Scotland, which will usher in a new era for Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders”.

Stage 3 proceedings on the South of Scotland Enterprise Bill

The Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill was handled slightly differently, with the process of considering stage 3 amendments to it being completed on Thursday afternoon, but the debate on the motion to pass the bill not taking place until this week.

Stage 3 proceedings on the Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Bill

For those with an interest in learning more about how the legislative process works, the Parliament has a number of resources:

https://www.parliament.scot/visitandlearn/109582.aspx

https://www.parliament.scot/visitandlearn/100529.aspx

On Thursday morning, the Equalities and Human Rights Committee held a fascinating evidence session with the Lord Advocate, James Wolffe QC, and Anne Marie Hicks from the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service on the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill prior to the bill’s stage 2 consideration.

In his opening statement, the Lord Advocate told the committee:

“If the bill is passed, I intend to issue Lord Advocate’s guidelines to the chief constable of Police Scotland on the investigation and reporting of allegations of assaults by parents on children. Those guidelines on prosecutorial policy will support a proportionate and appropriate response to the individual circumstances of particular cases. When appropriate, that response may include the use of informal response by the police, recorded police warnings, diversion and other alternatives to prosecution. At the same time, prosecution will be enabled when that is properly justified by reference to the circumstances of the individual case. The approach will be informed by our responsibility to protect children from harm and by our consideration of the best interests of the child.”

A number of interesting exchanges ensued, including the Lord Advocate’s robust response to the suggestion that the bill had the potential

to criminalise loving and caring parents who use a smack on the back of the hand or the bottom, or a light tap”.

 

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