Rennie: Children's rights being treated as a political football for Scottish Government

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Willie Rennie has today accused Deputy First Minister of caring more about constitutional squabbling than he does about delivering on children’s rights.

The UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 1st September 2020 and was passed unanimously on 16th March 2021. However, parts of the bill were subsequently struck down by the UK Supreme Court. 

Scottish Liberal Democrats have called for a revised bill containing the elements which are within the competencies of the Scottish Parliament to be fast tracked for debate. 

However, an exchange of letters between Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack indicates that the Scottish Government are re-running the old argument about powers rather than bringing a bill back to the Scottish Parliament to swiftly deliver on rights. 

Willie Rennie said: 

“I am disappointed that the Scottish Government are stalling over bringing this bill back to Parliament. 

"It was Scottish Government blunders which saw this important legislation struck down by the Supreme Court, but rather than come up with a fix, the SNP are using this to re-run old arguments over where powers lie. 

“The Supreme Court was clear about which changes can be made by the Scottish Parliament. Given that his government have frequently failed to make progressive changes on issues like child restraint and the age of criminal responsibility, the only explanation for John Swinney’s determination to dig in now is that he cares more about being seen to have a political fight with the government in Westminster than he does about putting a fresh UNCRC bill through parliament and enshrining these rights in law. 

"Parliament overwhelmingly backed this legislation and we need to see it return to parliament urgently with fixes in place but let us not forget that legislation is not required to make a host of changes to make life better for children and young people after a tough year. This should be the priority for the Scottish Government, not another row with their UK counterparts.” 

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