Scotland politics

Holyrood to examine quality of legislation it passes

The Scottish Parliament has announced an inquiry into the quality of laws it passes.

The move came amid an "acceptance" from parties and others that post-legislative scrutiny could be better.

Unlike Westminster, where both the House of Commons and House Lords consider legislation, Holyrood has just one chamber.

Recent laws to cut alcohol and tobacco-related health problems are being challenged in the courts.

The inquiry, to be carried out by the Scottish Parliament's standards committee, will look into how and when MSPs could revisit past legislation to see whether it is working as intended.

The committee's convener, SNP MSP Dave Thompson, said the Holyrood set-up meant there was only "one chance" to make sure bills were well-thought out before being enacted.

"During our inquiry into parliamentary reform earlier this session, some reasonably clear views emerged on post-legislative scrutiny - that the concept was widely supported, that it was an area in which the parliament could perform better and that the committees should play a leading role," he said.

Separate pieces of Scottish government legislation to bring in minimum alcohol pricing and restrict the sale and display of tobacco are currently subject to legal challenge on the grounds that Holyrood passed laws which are outwith its devolved responsibility.

And in October 2010, MSPs had to pass emergency justice legislation after the UK Supreme Court upheld an appeal by teenager Peter Cadder, whose conviction for assault was based on evidence gained before he spoke to his solicitor, on human rights grounds.

MSPs had to act quickly amid concern that almost 3,500 cases could have been open to appeal under the so-called Cadder ruling.

The standards committee has issued a call for evidence in relation to its inquiry, with a 25 January closing date.

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