(674) THE SNP’s FIRST LEGISLATIVE PROGRAMME
The First Minister announced his government’s 2007-2008 legislative programme in the Scottish Parliament on 5 September 2007. The programme also appears in a document called Principles and Priorities: the Government’s Programme for Scotland (accessible at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2007/09/05093403/0). Eleven Bills are proposed.
Of greatest legal interest are the Judiciary (Scotland) Bill (which will put the Judicial Appointments Board and judicial independence on a statutory footing – see previously Nos 100, 414, 463, 643), legislation to give effect to the Crown Office review and forthcoming Scottish Law Commission report on rape and sexual offences published in 2006 (see No 572), and an Interest on Debt and Damages Bill to develop fair and consistent rules for the application of interest rates to payments of debt and damages (also following on from a Scottish Law Commission Report No 203, published in 2006: see http://www.scotlawcom.gov.uk/downloads/rep203.pdf).
The Law Commission report on rape is not yet published. Its Discussion Paper No 131, on Rape and Other Sexual Offences, indicates its scope – a new definition of consent; the inclusion of male rape within the scope of the offence; and the enhancement of protection of persons vulnerable to sexual exploitation. Further details at http://www.scotlawcom.gov.uk/html/cpsexualoffences.htm.
Other measures of interest to Scots Law News readers more generally include the Abolition of Bridge Tolls Bill (to remove tolls from the Forth and Tay as well as the Skye and other bridges), the Creative Scotland (hitherto the Culture) Bill and the Graduate Endowment (Abolition) Bill.
None of this will set the heather on fire, but, crucially for a minority government, there should be enough parliamentary support for each Bill to ensure its passage into law in due course. The First Minister also told Parliament that the Government would consider what support they could offer to the two Members’ Bills being proposed by Jamie McGrigor and Ken McIntosh on creating a register of tartans and restricting sunbed use respectively. The latter will have to watch out for Tommy Sheridan’s human rights since he won’t be at Holyrood to defend them himself. Scots Law News is however delighted to see the prospective resuscitation of the register of tartans, for which see previously Nos 608 and 642.