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 587.

    585 Rodders
    The amount of money that goes into London vs contribution to the coffers of the UK plc is staggering. Where is the most Government expenditure London. Who gets over £1000 per head spent on their transport London Who get 50p per head The NE Where were the HQ of NatWest and Lloyds when they went belly up London Where do BAE profits get counted London Where do BAE profits get made the NW

  • rate this

    Comment number 586.

    584 fingalful
    You had a referendum in 1997 about whether you wanted a Parliament or have you just forgotten. You asked for it you got it and if its NBG then its your fault. Live with it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 585.

    If the Scots pull out at salmonds behest they will be fiscally bankrupt in no time at all! The amount of money that goes north of the border vs contribution to the coffers of the UK plc is staggering.

    If Alex salmond knew what he was doing he would be dangerous!

  • rate this

    Comment number 584.

    I'm Scottish & totally agree with Squirrel. So do most Scots. We had a parliament forced on us that we neither asked for nor wanted & has cost us the earth. As soon as we got it, the media called it the Scottish Government. We were not told this unelected putsch was to be a government. It can no more govern a chicken coop than can London. Its MPs are toadies to the banks, the same as London's.

  • rate this

    Comment number 583.

    When male life expectancy in Glasgows Calton is 54 and in Londons Westminster is 84 this better together and we all gain by pooling resources doesnt seem to have worked terribly well and its had 300 years to show that it did.

    I think the people of Scotland have every right to take back the resources to allow them to do something about the problems Westminster ignores even if it means independence

  • rate this

    Comment number 582.

    Any thought of independence seems to put a lot of noses out of joint

    It's just a bit of Jockbaiting
    We do it with football, it doesn't matter who wins... as long as England loses kinda thing

    The real deal though is The Vote

    I would like to see 16 and 17 year olds being included

    This is the only vote you will make in your entire life which will make any difference to your future

  • rate this

    Comment number 581.

    As long as all 900k of the Scottish immigrants living in England leave the day after independence then who will complain?

    Just make sure that's ALL 900k of them - including the warmongering Blair & Brown (not to mention Duncan-Smith & Michael Gove).

  • rate this

    Comment number 580.

    572 ".previous Prime Minister and Chancellor were Scottish"

    David William Donald Cameron , family from Blairsmore House Aberdeenshire ,has more Scots than Home Counties in him. They have been back seat driving the UK (including the biggest empire in human history) for 300 years and THEY want out?? You've gotta laugh.

    Independence will be good for England says #577....i agree.

  • rate this

    Comment number 579.

    If an expert could answer this. How would an independent Scotland effect Westminster in terms of party share for the three Parties? If in 2015 we were only voting in England and Wales, how would that effect the vote for Parliament? Is it in the Tories interest to see the break up of the UK considereing they have already lost the boundary change vote, unless the LibDems backstab again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 578.

    Gay marriage is good, but it's only a start. Now let's get a move on with polygamy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 577.

    Any thought of independence seems to put a lot of noses out of joint. Maybe it's something to do with the end of the British Empire.
    Let the empire go!
    England is a beautiful country with a wonderful history and people. Independence will be good for it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 576.

    575 chariter

    "Your posts 565 and 570 contradict each other."

    Theres nothing contradictory about bemoaning the lack of investment in Scotland and criticising the construction of £15bn worth of 2 RN flagship carriers in seperatist ports. No , not at all.

  • Comment number 575.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 574.

    @569Andrew, if Scotland already has all of this, why is the economy shrinking? And why are the Scottish National(Socialist) Party doing nothing to kick start the economy? They've been in power long enough to implement policies to do so, and continually blaming others is hardly the mark of a Party who have the ability to run a country independently.

  • rate this

    Comment number 573.

    statistics are a lot like a bikini.
    what they show is interesting,
    they hide that what is not publicly shown.

    i've never seen a party hide behind so much statistics since SNP.

    The statements are made by the Solicitor-advocate, Alistair Bonnington, that "Holyrood has done more harm to Scots law than Westminster managed in over 300 years"

    I prefer statements than statistics. ok to 13 new bills?

  • rate this

    Comment number 572.

    The Westminster jackboot? Whit? The previous Prime Minister and Chancellor were Scottish, plus there was Holyrood (a building project rescued by English taxes) yet you talk of jackboots!

  • rate this

    Comment number 571.

    In all this petty wrangling does it not occur to anyone that to all intents and purposes the Scots are independent. They have a parliament, run their own part of the NHS, their own education and legal systems, what else is there really? The only thing their leaders can't do is screw even more tax out of the Scottish people than Westminster does but I'm sure Mr. Salmond could rectify that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 570.

    Gordon Brown was a VERY naughty boy

    He pushed through that multi-billion dollar Aircraft Carrier deal for Rosyth just before he left office, and made any cancellation even more expensive than the project itself

    He brought some badly needed government investment to his constituency and gave Whitehall a great big two fingered salute at the same time

  • rate this

    Comment number 569.

    565. penguin337

    Nothing remains
    ...except whisky and oil

    and tourism and technology and expertise in renewable energy and modern plastics and technology and building ships for countries other than the remains of the UK

    Your grasp of economic clout is woefully early 20th Century. The 21st Century won't be about geography or natural resources, but about expertise and creativity

  • rate this

    Comment number 568.

    564. AdamB

    Most of Scotlands tourist come via England it has nothing to do with airport tax. If they came from the US or further a field they would save 00s on tickets and wouldnt come from England.


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