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 87.

    @73 - You really need to understand how natural resources are divided up between independent nations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    55.Calum McKay
    Interesting to see the Scotland haters out in full force..

    I don't think you will find that those against the referendum are Scotland haters. In fact quite the opposite is true. It will not be in the interests of the people of Scotland or the rest of the UK, for part of it to be separated from the other. There are more concerns than just the oil. ie what about the Armed Forces.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    i am from scotland and i feel that scotland needs to break away.
    in the 80's dame thatcher killed off a LOT of scottish industries such as steel and shipyards and used us as a test bed for the poll tax and various other taxes which was then shutdown as it failed.

    we may have oil and we know that it will not last and we have been striving to make new sources with great success.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    Plaudits on the gay marriage bill, but the implementation of the Carloway is a bad, but unsurpising, move from a government determined to destroy long standing principles of Scots Law. All of this because the Supreme Court made the correct decision and the SG didn't like it.

    Double jeopardy - gone. Corroboration - soon to be gone. What next?

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    72 Shaunie Babes: The UK government is about to introduce equal marriage legislation, as is the Scottish Government, so your point is what? That you don't like the SNP? Don't vote for them then (:

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    42. DenmarK

    Most of the Scottish people I speak to are in favour of Independence and are pleased that the Scots are going to have the chance to vote for this and can see no reason why Scotland wouldn't thrive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    I am deeply patriotically Scottish, in my blood and in my bone.
    I despise the 'Shortbread Tin' sentimentality of that makes some vote SNP, and I despise even more the
    Mel Gibson 'FREEEDUM' brigade.
    Scotland is better than all that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    How about taking on Westminster over civil service wages, Alex? Prove you 'value' the poor sods who labour long and hard in your policy salt mines for wages which barely let us pay our bills?? Not interested? No, didn't think so!

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    Let me be clear, I dont have anything at all against Scotland or the Scots. I am just so fed up with all the spineless posturing from Mr Salmond and co. Please have your vote now but it is not right that the SNP and its supporters should have it both ways. If Scotland has a vote on leaving the union, Englnad should have the same .

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    If Scots vote to go, as is their right, the Westminster exchequer can beneficially re- cost HS2 as there won't be any reason to go North of Manchester.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    Good luck to Scotland, go your own way and reap the rewards if they are there, though in these unstable economic times, it has to be quite a risk to take. Bring on gay marriage, its about time we all had equality, it has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with fairness.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    @Cat Woman (comment 68). Where do you get this wild fantasy from that taxes will be sky high and companies will leave Scotland? This is utter nonsense and unionist scaremongering. There is absolutely no evidence to support this. In fact many Scottish companies have recently said that Independence will have no adverse effect on them whatsoever!

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    It's typical of Salmond to think he can redefine "marriage" through legislation. Marriage is society's recognition and formalisation of the relationship between male and female. As such it has the potential, at least, to produce children and is thus fundamentally different from a gay partnership. (Cue spurious remarks about 50-year-old brides!)

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    I love my country. I just dont want it run by a dictator or a bully. More than I can say for those in the SNP.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    Renewables the future king, you're joking. "Scotland is producing the 'equivalent of'' 45% of its energy needs from renewables" is a meaningless statement. Basically it means you would be if all the renewables were producing at 100% capacity which they're not. Its more like 12% on an erratic basis. Who's gas/oil? - it's all in International waters so belongs to all of UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    If gay marriage were legal in England, the SNP would be against it out of spite.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    Pete #45

    Too true, even though I'm half jock, I want England out of the Union. NO Wales, NO N.I., NO Scotland and most importantly NO Isle of Mann/Channel Islands tax fraudsters...It's nowt different to what the SNP want, but I bet you it'll get voted down. Oh, and you can keep the Queen too! (shock horror!)

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    55.Calum McKay
    Interesting to see the Scotland haters out in full force

    We don't hate Scotland down South, far from it - but it's people like yourself who are utterly ruining its reputation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    Can't we just get this thing done once and for all? Why the hanging about?

    God save us, the banks, the Euro, the UK economy may have collapsed by late 2014 and that will complicate matters still further.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    I've lived in Scotland all my life and IMO independence will be the worst thing that could happen. There will be massive job losses as any company with a head office south of the border pulls out of Scotland and for those of us still lucky enough to have jobs taxes will go sky high.


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