Rennie: New children's rights bill must be ready to go in September, no further delays

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Willie Rennie has today said that the Scottish Government should ensure that it’s revised UNCRC incorporation bill is ready to go when parliament returns in September.  He said there should be no further delay as it will be two years since it was introduced to parliament.

The original 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 consistently called for a revised bill containing the elements which are within the competencies of the Scottish Parliament to be fast tracked for debate.  

Now Deputy First Minister John Swinney has written to the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee to confirm that he would be instructing civil servants to draft amendments to the bill and would continue to engage with the UK Government with a view to avoiding further challenge to the Bill. 

However, Mr Swinney fell short of confirming a timetable for the reintroduced bill, stating only that “When this has been done, I will advise Committee of the timetable for bringing the Bill back via the ‘reconsideration stage’.” 

Responding to the letter, Mr Rennie said: 

"This is the first indication we have had from the Deputy First Minister that he actually intends to make some progress on this issue.  We have had long delays and bitter arguments with Westminster, now is the time for action.

“It was Scottish Government blunders which saw this important legislation struck down by the Supreme Court and Scottish Government intransigence which has prevented a replacement bill making its way to parliament for so long. 

“The Supreme Court was clear about which changes can be made by the Scottish Parliament but it served John Swinney’s purposes to have political fight with the government in Westminster before he got on with putting a fresh UNCRC bill through parliament and enshrining these rights in law.  

"Parliament overwhelmingly backed this legislation so we need to see it return to parliament urgently with fixes in place. That means having an amended bill ready to go in September when parliament returns from recess.” 

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