Committee of MSPs takes evidence on Holyrood scrutiny

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Some MSPs are worried that they do not have enough time to scrutinise late amendments to bills

MSPs have started taking evidence on whether Holyrood is rushing through legislation without proper scrutiny.

Concerns had been lodged by two parliamentary committees that there was not enough time to consider the impact of late amendments.

Now the Scottish Procedures and Public Appointments Committee (SPPA) is investigating possible rule changes.

It comes after a row about the recent passage of the Children and Young People Bill.

MSPs were concerned they would have to pass the legislation before detailed costings for new childcare measures had been provided.

The convenors of the two committees that had complained about lack of scrutiny spoke to the SPPA.

The SNP's Nigel Don leads the delegated powers and law reform committee and the SNP's Kenneth Gibson heads the finance committee.

Evidence also came from Labour MSP Claudia Beamish.

Ahead of the committee meeting, Ms Beamish and fellow MSPs, Tory Alex Fergusson and Lib Dem Tavish Scott, submitted a written statement saying that late amendments created "considerable issues of confidence in parliamentary scrutiny".

They cited the Stage 3 debate on the Aquaculture and Fisheries (Scotland) Bill in which three sets of amendments were introduced.

New bill

The MSPs explained: "They had not, as the minister responsible for the bill acknowledged, been subject to any previous parliamentary scrutiny.

"They have not been subject to any public consultation but were accepted by parliament.

"The opposition parties did not oppose the amendments but registered their disquiet on the procedure followed by the government by abstaining."

They added: "Parliament's committees are frequently held up as the legislative strength of the Scottish Parliament.

"However, in the absence of any mechanism for revision, apart from a completely new bill, the tabling of the new Stage 3 amendments without any scrutiny or public consultation appears to us to create considerable issues of confidence in parliamentary scrutiny."

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