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
    +2

    Comment number 147.

    @tearsoverintegrity #139 We realise that and look forward to welcoming many of you to Scotland, when you can no longer stomach this Tweedledee-Tweedledum Westminster government that is destroying everything that is good about these isles.

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 146.

    32. HELEN_of_TROY
    "Why is Salmond holding back?
    When Scotland votes no, then his career is over. That is why!"

    Not at all, the simple truth is that the SNP in an independent Scotland or otherwise are the only party who do and will continue to do what is in Scotland's best interests.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 145.

    @117.billy

    Scotland could afford the disproportionate number of "Scottish" regiments that are in the British army. English regiments could be re-awakened to take their place: Cheshires, Green Jackets, QLRs etc. Only Trident is homed at Faslane, the MoD has already earmarked Milford Haven as a deep water home for Trident3 if Scots go.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 144.

    124.pokemon black teh
    "The comments as usual are flooded with people from "Down South""

    Also funny how they are just waiting for Daniel to open the blog and the anti-independence bile spews forth. Anyone would think it was all a propaganda excercise, oh, wait a minute....

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 143.

    These all seem like common sense bills to me. That is, of course, if they have the money to pay for them.

    By the way, I am English and would like to see the Scots hold a referendum on full independence now. Can't understand why Salmond is waiting.

    If the vote is yes, then great.

    Of course, if the answer is no, then Salmond and his cronies are dead in the water.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 142.

    Nothing to tackle the blight of sectarianism which is a national disgrace. Not unexpected since the majority of our "representatives" have their feet firmly in one camp or another and are happy to pretend that it isn't a problem. Sad that our great nation is being ruled by spineless self seeking, career politicians who are scared to show leadership and propel Scotland into the 21st century.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 141.

    You only have to look at the comments here to see that Salmond's procrastinating has taken eveyone's eye off the actual day-to-day governing of Scotland and instead people are entirely focussed on the potential break-up of the country.
    Can't Salmond see that? Or does he even care?

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 140.

    If the Scottish people vote 'No' in the referendum - can the rest of the UK have referendum to evict them?

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 139.

    Before you Scots leave us I want you to realise this - the British people and the British government are not the same thing.
    Many of the rest of us are fed up of the Westminster MPs too!

  • Comment number 138.

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

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 137.

    Scotland is an independent wealthy nation like Norway with some of the highest living standards and equality in the world. In 2014, we vote to join a union which will send our politicians 500 miles away where they will be in the vast minority, we will spend our money on nuclear weapons and no longer have a say in our economy, broadcasting, defence, foreign affairs, social security etc

    YES or NO?

  • rate this
    -15

    Comment number 136.

    I am pro independence but fear the SNP are going to throw it all away over the stupid homosexual marraige debacle. A recent poll in Scotland found only 0.7% admitting to being homosexual. They are going to lose more votes than this if they insist on pushing this through. This issue along with In or out of NAsTyO should be left for an independent Scotland to decide.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 135.

    118.Sprocket Scientist

    A referendum in Autumn 2014

    Correct me if I'm wrong but as well as being the 700th anniversary of Bannochburn (sp), won't it also be the 100 year anniversary of the beginning of the Great War (WWI), I'm sure that will also bring a strong sentiment

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 134.

    if scotland gets its independence the labour party lose thirty seats in westminster... end game for the rest of us ...conservatives rule forever...were all doomed

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 133.

    @114.Gusgog
    kind of funny that you say that since it was an english goverment that shutdown scottish shipyards.

    it was an english goverment that just recently gave a multi-BILLION pound naval ship building contract to a eastern block nation who haqs links to criminal orgonizations.


    also the current gov't are china and americas whipping boy

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 132.

    @117. billy

    "armed forces will remain the same in scotland except it will fall under the scottish forces"

    Sorry but you're living in another world if you think scotland could afford to have aircraft carriers, destroyers, typhoons, F 35's and tens of thousands of soldiers.

    The SNP themselves have said the it would be slimmed to a couple of thousand soldiers a helicopter and a speed boat.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 131.

    Look at it another way - if Scotland was already and independent country who in their right mind choose to join the UK to be governed by the numpties at Westminster??

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 130.

    I believe in the democratic process and we will have a referendum. People wealthy enough and in a job which allows them access to a computer don't realise that there is a whole sway of people who cannot comment on here for social/economic reasons. A vote for independence is a vote for the working classes of Scotland and it will definitely detrimentally affect many who comment on here.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 129.

    If we are such a burden to the English, then why do they care so much about our potential departure? Let us go and stop taking all of this so personally.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 128.

    What Greece does today, Scotland will do tomorrow!

    Even the cost of independence will almost break us............
    Not to mention the loss of UK based jobs!

    When money was flowing North pre oil, nobody even thought of independence, to moan now that money goes South seems a tad ungrateful!

 

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