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 167.

    Today David Cameron made the most persuasive case for the yes vote so far. Jeremy Hunt - health secretary - I was on the fence before, but now I'm all about independence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    I just read someone comment "Come 2014 the choice will be Independence or more Etonian interference."

    Considering 59 Scots MP's sit in London when they have their own parliament I think it may be a case of England gaining independence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    Just a quick note, there are a lot of people that seem to think that just because Westminster is in England that all of Britain's woes are of English design. Scotland, Welsh and NI have parliaments/regional assemblys, WE DON'T. We have your MP's voting on English (and Welsh) matters that you have NO RIGHT to..It's all about fairness, Politicians accross the board don't seem to understand.

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    Billy @133
    You are embarrassing yourself.
    Take a look at the Royal Navy website and see the roster of Naval frigates, Destroyers and Royal Fleet Auxilliaries built at Scottish Ship yards, at least a 90% share. At £1bn per Type 26 and £1.5bn per Type 45 that is a lot of future £ to kiss goodbye to. Portsmouth and Barrow will definitely have the workers at Govan on their Christmas card list.

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    @136 - I disagree. I think the SNP have made the right decision with regard to the same-sex marriage bill. It's about time a party had the spine to stand up to the archaic drivel that the Church tries to enforce on the population.

    Any party bold enough to do this deserves my vote.

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    As an Englishman in Scotland, I decided to judge the SNP on a policy that would benefit me: local income tax. The procrastination around that issue was infuriating.

    The more I've heard from the SNP, the more I find that their claims don't stand up and I can't escape the conclusion that their agenda is driven more by a desire for confrontation than for actually doing progressive things.

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    "All this 'Braveheart' cr*p from Salmond and his out-dated cronies is laughable and will damage Scotland ultimately."

    Just goes to show that JPublic hasn't got a clue what he is talking about.

    But then all these anti-independence stooges that have been drafted in by the bbc are just the same.

    The propaganda isn't so clever and far too obvious.

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    But as Scots, don't you feel in a kind of limbo-land at the moment?

    Surely if Salmond was sure of his own convictions about independence then he would have held a referendum immediately, even if it meant his career being over upon a no vote.

    Why is he waiting? The only logical conclusion is that he is buying time to try and sell independence in a such an unclear way that he can't lose.

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    It's been shown through thousands of years of "border hoping" people of this island and ireland are genetically the same. This nationalist nazi "we are different and better than you" ideology is crazy in 2012.

    Hate it when someone says they have scottish or celtic blood, really because blood can't be branded lol. How can you be different from someone born half a mile away across a line on a map.

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    "100 year anniversary of the beginning of the Great War (WWI), I'm sure that will also bring a strong sentiment"

    A good point Abdi. I'm sure we shall all be remembering how a UK Government ruthlessly slaughtered one million of its own citizens (appro. 150000 Scots) in a pointless war. A war that caused 16.5 million lives and 21 million wounded. A poor case for staying with the Union.

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    So much for the SNP's claim to want to represent the wishes of Scottish people. You ask them they views on a subject, and when they're not the same as yours you totally disregard them. One can but wonder what will happen if they loose the referendum on independence - a military take over perhaps - whoops they don't have one they pay for, part of their net contribution to the UK budget.

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    I honestly believe that a lot of the SNPs success is down to the fact it represents something unavailable in the rest of the UK - a credible Socialist Party.

    The fact that they also support independence probably costs them more votes than it gains as I suspect that most Scots realise the move to independence will be an order of magnitude more expensive & chaotic than Mr Salmond ever admits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    @gusgog - Eh, MOD spending in Scotland is approx 3% of UK budget. Given Scotland has 9% of the population then Scotland would be better off out of the UK as far as the forces are concerned.
    As for Milford Haven. Right next to a Liquid Gas plant?!!! Don't be so stupid. The MOD found there is only one place in the UK and that is Coulport. Without Coulport the UK has no home based deterrent. DYOR.

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    I'm English and I back the Scottish Independence bid, as long it's the Euro countries that have to bail them out when they go all Greek.

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    As a Scotsman living in Scotland , I do believe this referendum thing , is a job creation project for Journalists and MSP's .

    I drive all over central Scotland every day , and I hardly hear or see any mention of it

    Save the fanatical nationalism for the football games ;-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    The Scots have always had sensible laws, when they were allowed to make them by a draconian English government.
    As such, I'd like a referendum for we English to become part of Scotland, if thats OK?

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    The SNP are proving time and time again that they will agree to anything to get Scottish Independence.

    All this 'Braveheart' cr*p from Salmond and his out-dated cronies is laughable and will damage Scotland ultimately.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.


    i could make a long list of things but it would only infurirate you and other english people.

    i have english relations and they actually back the indipendence vote and they wish us luck.
    there are more scottish personell in the armed forces than there are english.

    put in a freedom of information request and ask for a regional personell account

    the results will scare you

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    Cameron seems to think when it comes to the EU and UK government that smaller and local is better than large and centralised. If this is true why should the same not apply to Scotland’s management of its own affairs?

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    To those suggesting Salmond is only after money and power: what on earth are you talking about? If Salmond were after either then he would have joined the Labour party in his early career.

    Turn your attention to the corruption and career politicians battling it out for the top spots in the other parties. The SNP are by far the most honourable, sticking to their promises and delivering.


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