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Scotland's legislative programme 2016-17


The Scottish government plans to introduce up to 15 new bills during the 2016-17 session of the Scottish Parliament. Here is a look at those bills in more detail.

Air Passenger Duty Bill

The Scotland Act 2016 gave powers over the taxing of air passengers to MSPs at Holyrood.

The Scottish government wants to to cut the duty by 50% between 2018 and 2021.

It says the move "will better reflect our objective of boosting Scotland's international connectivity and economic competitiveness to deliver sustainable growth"

This bill will set out the scope and structure of the tax, including the rates and bands.

The legislation will make provision for the collection and management of the tax, including minor amendments to the Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Act 2014 to ensure "broad consistency with collection and management arrangements for other devolved taxes".

Budget Bill

The annual Budget Bill provides parliamentary approval for the Scottish government's spending plans.

It is likely that Finance Secretary Derek Mackay will wait until after UK Chancellor Philip Hammond presents his autumn statement before he prepares his budget.

When it happens, the budget will be the first in which the Holyrood administration has full control over income tax rates and bands.

Child Poverty Bill

The bill will replace the recently repealed sections of the UK Child Poverty Act 2010 concerning targets and strategies in relation to child poverty.

In July First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced her intention to introduce a bill. She has also re-appointed Naomi Eisenstadt as the independent child poverty adviser.

The programme for government document says: "The bill will enshrine in legislation the ambition to eradicate child poverty and place a duty on Scottish ministers to publish a Child Poverty Delivery Plan every five years and to report on that plan annually."

Domestic Abuse Bill

The government says it wants to tackle the issue of domestic abuse. Some 60,000 incidents are reported to police each year of which 79% involve a female victim and a male perpetrator.

In a Scottish government consultation more than 90% of people said they did not believe the current laws provided police, prosecutors and courts with sufficient powers to bring perpetrators of abuse to justice.

The government says this new legislation will ensure that "psychological abuse, such as coercive and controlling behaviour, can be effectively prosecuted under the criminal law in a way that recognises the abuse that is being perpetrated".

Social Security Bill

The bill will take forward the government's priorities for the social security powers that are to be devolved, ahead of the establishment of a new Social Security Agency.

Ministers say evidence gathered from a wide-ranging consultation on social security will inform the final content of the bill, which will set out an over-arching legislative framework for a new Scottish social security system.

The government wants to increase Carer's Allowance to the level of Jobseeker's Allowance, and replace Sure Start Maternity Grants with a new maternity and early years allowance called the Best Start Grant.

Forestry Bill

The bill will ensure the Scottish government has control of all aspects of forestry and introduce new arrangements for its governance, development, support and regulation.

It will also transfer the powers and duties of the Forestry Commissioners - as they relate to Scotland - to Scottish ministers.

A forestry and land management body will be established and will focus initially on the development and management of the Scottish Ministers' National Forest Estate.

It will also have the flexibility to use land for a variety of purposes and the potential to take on management of other publicly-owned land in the future.

Contract (Third Party Rights) Bill

The bill aims to reform the current rule of contract law which creates an "enforceable right" in favour of a third party and replace it with a "statutory version".

Housing (Amendment) Bill

The bill will ensure registered social landlords (RSLs) continue to be classified as private sector bodies.

The government says the classification is at risk because some of the powers of the Scottish Housing Regulator are likely to cause the Office for National Statistics (ONS), in its current review of the classification of RSLs, to classify RSLs to the public sector as public corporations.

Expenses and Funding of Civil Litigation Bill

The government says it wants to make the civil justice system more "accessible, affordable and equitable".

The bill will introduce measures to;

  • make the costs of civil action more predictable
  • to extend the funding options for pursuers
  • and to bring more equality to the funding relationship between claimants and defenders in personal injury actions.

Gender Balance on Public Boards Bill

The bill will require "positive action" to be taken to redress gender imbalances on public sector boards.

It will;

  • apply to non-executive appointments to the boards of Scottish public authorities
  • and "lock in" the gains that have been made in women's representation on public boards in Scotland

Limitation (Childhood Abuse) Bill

The Scottish government says the bill will "remove a barrier" for child abuse survivors to access civil justice.

It will;

  • end the three year limitation period for personal injury actions where the person raising the action was a child (under the age of 18) at the time the injury occurred and the act or omission to which the child's injuries were attributable constituted abuse
  • remove the limitation period whether the abuse occurred before or after the commencement of the new provisions
  • and apply to abuse that took place after 26 September 1964.

Railway Policing Bill

The legislation will result in railway policing powers being devolved to Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority.

It will also put in place funding arrangements for the integration of the British Transport Police (BTP) in Scotland into Police Scotland.

Islands Bill

The government says that this legislation will "reflect the unique needs of Scotland's islands".

It will include measures such as;

  • provision for "island-proof" future legislation and policies
  • the creation of a National Islands Plan
  • statutory protection for the Na h-Eileanan an Iar Scottish parliamentary constituency boundary
  • greater flexibility around councillor representation (ward sizes) within island communities
  • and extension of powers to island councils

Wild Animals in Circuses Bill

The bill will:

  • ban the use (performance and exhibition) of such animals in travelling circuses on "ethical grounds on the basis that this practice is morally objectionable to a large proportion of Scottish society"
  • put in place enforcement provisions and sanctions for non-compliance with the ban.

Referendum Bill (draft)

Ministers will consult on a draft Referendum Bill, "in order that it is ready" for introduction should the Scottish government conclude that independence is the "best or only way" to protect Scotland's interests in the wake of the EU referendum result which saw the UK vote to leave the union.

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