The new SNP Government has announced that it will prioritise the economy and closing the education attainment gap. We can expect a strong focus on these issues when the First Minister gets up to give a statement on the Government’s priorities tomorrow (Wednesday 24 June). Grayling has been reviewing the SNP’s manifesto and stripped out their legislative plans – the Bills that the party is likely to introduce.
There were a lot of elements of the SNP manifesto which were already in the offing. Below we divide the commitments along the lines of what’s new, what’s old and some other priority areas.
-A new Climate Change Bill will strengthen environmental policy and look to set a new target to reduce emissions by more than 50 per cent by 2020.
-A Transport Bill will be introduced to improve bus services, enhance and improve the role of the Scottish Road Works Commissioner and wider road works regulation and enable and enforce responsible parking.
-A Circular Economy and Zero Waste Bill will seek to build the circular economy, promote recycling and take action to meet food waste targets.
-The Government will consult on and introduce a Bill that will decentralise local authority functions, budgets and democratic oversight to local communities.
-A Planning Reform Bill will be introduced which will be based on the recommendations of the ongoing planning review. This will aim to streamline development planning and management procedures and practices to remove unnecessary blockages and delays.
-A Good Food Nation Bill is to be introduced to draw together all aspects of the Scottish Government’s work on food and drink – including food standards, public procurement and food waste.
-A Scottish Social Security Bill has previously been discussed in the context of new powers. An SNP Government would look to introduce this in the first year of the new Parliament to take forward early priorities for social security.
-A much trailed Warm Homes Bill will be introduced to help tackle fuel poverty.
–The Islands Bill (for more power and protection for Scotland’s islands) has been discussed and debated since 2014, but an SNP Government would look to introduce this in the next Parliament.
-A consultation started in March to introduce a Bill on seat belt requirements on dedicated school transport, which will require all public vehicles carrying children to and from school to be fitted with seatbelts. This is an area first looked at in 2011.
-Prior to the election, Nicola Sturgeon pledged to legislate for non-binary gender recognition.
-The SNP have indicated that in Government they would legislate to have 50:50 gender equality in public sector boardrooms by 2020.
-An Inshore Fisheries Bill to support improved fisheries management and a Wild Fisheries Bill will modernise structures and enable better national and local management of wild fisheries.
Other areas of focus
There are a number areas which the First Minister will focus upon which will not necessarily require primary legislation or where the SNP have not been explicit in their need to introduce legislation.
-The SNP will encourage school clusters and create new educational regions to decentralise management and support, as well as introduce a new National Standards and Evaluation Framework which will make recommendations on how to raise attainment.
-The SNP intend to review school governance with a view to a bigger role for parents, families and communities.
-The SNP also intend to use more innovative recruitment methods for teaching staff, with indications that a form of the Teach First scheme in England will be replicated in Scotland.
-The previous SNP Government, under John Swinney’s control, worked on a Consumer and Competition strategy based on the new powers in the Scotland Act 2016. This will include the creation of a unified consumer body, Consumer Scotland.
-Transitional arrangements for DWP’s Work Programme and Work Choice Programme from 2017, followed by a redesign and £20m annual funding boost.
-The SNP will work with Historic Environment Scotland and partners to create a long-term Infrastructure Investment Plan for restoring, enhancing and conserving the built heritage environment.
-The SNP intend to review the number, structure and regulation of health boards – and their relationships with local councils.
-The SNP need to clean-up their response to Anne McTaggart’s private members’ Bill which would have introduced a soft-opt out for organ donations.
Housing, Land and Environment
-The SNP intend to establish Land Scotland, a new land agency for Scotland. This will be designed to help manage Scotland’s publicly owned land “in the national interest”.
-The SNP wish to modernise compulsory purchase orders to ensure vacant and derelict land can be brought into use for communities and will look at interim measures to achieve this in advance of legislation.
-The SNP intend to consult on a national standard for private rented homes.
-The SNP view crofting law as outdated, so they intend to modernise it and make it more transparent, understandable and workable in practice.
-A review focusing on disclosure, risk management, police powers, children’s hearings and victims’ issues is continuing and will be taken-up in the next Parliament.
-The SNP intend to legislate to create a new specific offence to help tackle domestic abuse. This will cover other forms of psychological abuse and coercive and controlling behaviour which cannot easily be prosecuted under existing criminal law.
-Although a bill on Succession was passed in the last parliamentary session, there was acknowledgement that further legislation would be required.