Referendum and same-sex marriage bills announced in SNP plans


There are 15 new bills planned for the 2012/13 Holyrood session

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An independence referendum bill and another to legalise same-sex marriage form part of the Scottish government's new legislative programme.

First Minister Alex Salmond announced details of his 2012/13 plans in the Holyrood chamber.

The government will bring forward 15 bills in all.

The SNP administration wants a referendum on independence to be held in autumn 2014. However, much of the detail has still to be worked out.

What are the 2012/13 bills?

The Scottish government's legislative programme includes;

1. Referendum Bill

2. Budget Bill

3. Procurement Reform Bill

4. Bankruptcy Bill

5. Better Regulation Bill

6. Land and Buildings Transaction Tax Bill

7. Landfill Tax Bill

8. Adult Health & Social Care Integration Bill

9. Children and Young People Bill

10. Post-16 Education Reform Bill

11. Forth Estuary Transport Authority Bill

12. Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill

13. Victims and Witnesses Bill

14. Tribunals Bill

At-a-glance: Scottish legislative programme 2012/13

Negotiations on the process surrounding the vote are continuing between the Scottish and UK governments. The bill is expected to make its way through parliament and gain Royal Assent in November next year.

At this stage it is not known how many questions voters will be asked.

Among the 14 other bills being put forward are the Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill, which could introduce same-sex marriage to Scotland.

Mr Salmond says there will be a "conscience" vote in the parliament, where MSPs will be able to vote freely, and he insisted no part of the religious community would be forced to hold same-sex weddings in churches.

The announcement was made in the wake of a government consultation on the issue, which produced a record 77,508 responses.

Also included in the programme are measures to make more free early learning and childcare available.

The first minister said the Children and Young People Bill would include a promise of 600 hours "free early learning and childcare provision".

This guaranteed pre-school nursery care is for all three and four-year-olds, and looked-after two-year-olds. It represents a 125-hour increase on current provision.

Mr Salmond also announced that £18m will be spent on "high-quality, co-ordinated and accessible" support for families.

The Criminal Justice Bill will reform the system for investigating and prosecuting crime in Scotland, following Lord Carloway's review of Scots Law which recommended the abolition of the requirement for corroboration.

The legislative programme, announced in the week MSPs returned from their summer recess, includes two bills setting out the Scottish government's proposed replacements for stamp duty and landfill tax - the Scotland Act handed powers over these to Holyrood from 2015.

Other legislation is being focused on the integration of health and social care; improving support available for victims and witnesses; reforming post-16 education and to bringing bankruptcy law into the 21st Century.

Day One of the new parliamentary term at Holyrood.

A chance for the lieges to survey the modest, replacement Holyrood hostelry - already nicknamed Margo's Bar in honour of the independent member from Lothian.

Opinion is divided upon that topic (the boozer, that is, not Margo) with sporadic muttering from disgruntled media members at the opening hours of the new facility in Queensberry House.

Anything else dividing opinion? Not much really. Just the small matter of the dissolution of the Parliamentary Union of 1707.

We have been debating that particular topic so long and so earnestly that there is a danger of historic moments passing us by like the idle wind which we regard not. Today was such an historic moment.

Mr Salmond said: "The new parliamentary session promises to be a pivotal one in the history of this country.

"Work will get under way in earnest on the Referendum Bill, laying the groundwork for Scotland's most important decision in 300 years.

"With the powers we do have, we have managed to secure free university education, offer the best free early learning and childcare package in the UK and guarantee a training opportunity to every 16-19 year old who is not already in education, employment or training.

"We are also investing in creating jobs and strengthening the economy - bringing forward more than £300m of capital spending between 2008-2010, supporting 5,000 jobs, and announcing just a few weeks ago a further £105m.

"Any plan to support growth should focus on immediate public sector capital investment and over this year and the next two, we will switch over £700m of spending from resource to capital."

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont said Mr Salmond no longer had anything to offer Scotland, other than "a referendum he continues to dither over".

'Out of ideas'

She said: "The first minister has an overall majority, what an opportunity to change Scotland for a generation - to radically overhaul education, to set our NHS on a new footing.

"If he'd been prepared to be radical, we'd have been prepared to work with him. But when it comes to the big issues, which actually affect peoples' lives, the poverty of his ambition borders on destitution.

Live coverage

The Holyrood debate on the 2012/13 legislative programme continues on Wednesday afternoon. If you want to view it as it is happening, and later on demand, go to our Democracy Live website.

"This legislative programme was largely an uninspired mix of re-announcements and technical bills which show a government out of ideas."

Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said the legislative programme was from a government that had "run out of steam, run out of ideas and which fails to live up to the ambitions of Scotland's people".

She added: "It is a programme that seeks to create the illusion of activity through a plethora of policies but which somehow contrives to be somewhat less than the some of its parts.

"It is the programme of a government that has been reduced to a single overriding goal - to break Scotland away from the rest of the United Kingdom."

BBC graphic Holyrood plans to increase pre-school care to 600 hours a year

The leader of the Scottish Lib Dems, Willie Rennie, said: "The big missed opportunity today is that of Scottish Water. By changing Scottish Water into a public benefit corporation, which firmly remains in the public sector, there is the potential to release a £1.5bn windfall.

"This money could be used to finance the shovel-ready projects the SNP never tire of shouting about. This would create jobs the length and breadth of Scotland."

Scottish Green Party leader Patrick Harvie said the two "highest profile bills" - on the independence referendum and same-sex marriage - had received the "strong support" of his party.

He explained: "The introduction of the Referendum Bill will signal the beginning of the most important period of recent Scottish history - the debate about the future of our country. That debate must engage with the competing visions of the kind of country we want to become.

"The bill to allow same-sex marriage is an important part of that agenda. It will continue Scotland's progress toward a modern, inclusive and progressive society that values equality and diversity."

And Scottish Secretary Michael Moore said he welcomed the first minister announcing plans for a Referendum Bill.

He added: "It is high time we sorted out the referendum process and got on to the real debate about Scotland's future."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    I can't wait for the independence referendum and I will vote for it. The sooner we are out of the corruption and duplicity that pervades the whole union supporting mob the better. That includes the very machiavellian Daniel Maxwell and the BBC. They think their propaganda is very clever, but it is all going to backfire on them come the referendum.

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    the population of uk =62,641,000
    the poplation of scotland is =5,200,000

    scotland has 25% of its employed people working for various government agency of the uk

    that's a lot of decent jobs gonna go if they decide on independence not to mention their share of the deficit bank bailouts etc.

    still their choice, i hope they can afford it

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    Mr Salmond isn't really after Scottish independence. All he is after is more money and power but with a safety net of Westminster in case it all goes horribly wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    The comments as usual are flooded with people from "Down South" just climbing over themselves to tell us Scots how much they want Scotland to be independent but shouting every scare story they can dream up to make us stay. No wonder support for independence and the SNP is growing massively. Also, the BBC subtly demonising gay/equal marriage is vomit inducing. Shame on you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    I don't like the idea of independence. But whenever I look at what the UK government does, I'm in despair and think "I'm lucky to live in Scotland".

    But it's like having my cake and eating it. Nice to know we're part of the UK also.

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.


    Deary me. Once again people not looking for a balanced view and just craving an answer from Salmond that suits them.

    1/4 of Scotlands oil lies to the west of Shetland islands not to mention the incredible marine energy resources off Orkney

    But you carry on believing that it will all be yours regardless.

    @111 If you want indepenedence why cant the islands?

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    2.DenmarK All the Scottish people that I know are appalled at the prospect of independence and this whole independence process.

    Nonsense - The majority I know are undecided and those are arent are split between yeh and nae.. scaremongering seems to be the name of the game, as for Salmond i couldnt care less I just want to go it alone for Scotland, if it is no then I will just have to accept it

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    As an Englishman who has lived most of his life in London and who loves the Scots and Scotland, I find it difficult to comprehend the vitriol towards we Londoners being expressed by some people north of the border.

    I can only attribute it to an inferiority complex - you have no reason to feel inferior guys.

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    NB - that's just another lie the Deal Leader is peddaling. He knows full well the ECHR wont allow churches to refuse to marry same sex couples. But what's another lie in a career based on half truths, spin and more lies?

    He's mooching for votes - anyway, anyhow.


  • Comment number 118.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    @Higgs bosun


    scotland will use the £ as we hate the euro
    armed forces will remain the same in scotland except it will fall under the scottish forces
    also remember this ....... england keeps there tacticle nuclear weapons and there nuclear ships and subs up here in scotland

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    perfect solution for all this bickering... Civil war...wipe out half the island, the winners can the put the country to rights again.. No more unemployment..wooooooooo

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    I had voted for the SNP for the past 10years, however the way the Gay Marriage issue was handled has frightened me.

    This small group is over represented at 1.5% of the population - surely as a country we have more important issues to address. This surely will cost the SNP independence with 850,000 catholics not be voting for the SNP just when they were making progress with Labour voters.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    UK Gov't are holding off on new Type26 frigates which may go to the BaE yards at Portsmouth or Barrow (Should help with enforced gaps between Astute Subs). Final assembly of the 2nd Carrier at Rosyth could be scrapped and steel and some systems/fittings re-used for the 26's.

    Scotland would kiss goodbye to its proud ship building past and England would bank the saving.

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    And lo the daily avalanche of unionist propaganda continues. Why are these Unionists too feart to stand on their own two feet?

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    @97 - If Sheltand goes independent or went with rUK they would have the same status as Guernsey sitting off of the coast of France. They would have a 12mile territorial limit as they would be classed as a small island sitting off of a larger state.

    Given that there are no oil fields in this area Scotland would get all of the oil.


  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    @wirral18 (comment 97)

    You should check your facts mate because:

    1. Shetland is part of Scotland

    2. When an island belonging to one state sits on the continental shelf of another state, the islands are treated as enclaves. This matter was discussed in detail in a legal paper published by the European Journal of International Law: Prospective Anglo-Scottish Maritime Boundary Revisited.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    I'm not sure how Alex Salmond can say that even if the same sex marriage bill is passed in Scotland that churches will not have to perform ceremonies. The European Courts take the view that if a bill is passed by Parliament, then it must be enforced or breach the human rights of the persons wanting to act on it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.


    you are wrong, there was only 2 scottish people in the cabinet, one of whom became prime minister after tony blair stepped down.

    the scottish people did NOT want brown as PM as we know just how idiotic he is, BUT he inherited a finacial mess and he at least tried his best to please not only parliment but the people as well.
    this look what has happend since cameran took power

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    The Union has done nothing for the ordinary person. Massive hikes in cost of living, an uncertain future and anxiety. For the Rich it has been great with vast wealth hoarded in tax havens. The ROOL Britainia Brigade are an insult to common decency and humanity and to intelligence. Its time the UK was broken up as its nature is injustice and greed and replaced by independant regions.


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