Holyrood’s Justice Committee sets out timetable for scrutiny of Hate Crime Bill
Holyrood’s Justice Committee has announced its timetable for parliamentary scrutiny of the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill.
The committee intends to start hearing oral evidence from witnesses in late October, with a view to completing its stage 1 report by 18 December 2020.
The announcement comes as the first of almost 2,000 written submissions made to the committee are published, and the First Minister committed to hearing concerns in her programme for government statement.
Committee convener Professor Adam Tomkins MSP said: “The number of submissions we have received is unprecedented and reflects that this bill is contentious.
“Hundreds of individuals and organisations have written to us setting out their views on the offences that this bill would both create and abolish.
“Given the importance of this legislation – and the strength of feeling it is generating – it is vital that sufficient time is allowed for scrutiny.
“Our committee has already agreed that it will revisit the deadline of 18 December should it become necessary.”
The timetable shows that written submissions from organisations will be published today, and then written submissions from individuals will be published in batches in accordance with the Parliament’s policy on the treatment of written evidence.
The committee will then consider who will be invited to give oral evidence, the sessions for which will being in late October.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “The bill does not seek to stifle criticism or rigorous debate in any way but aims to achieve the correct balance between protecting those who suffer from the scourge of hate crime whilst respecting people’s freedom of expression.
“As Parliament considers the details of the bill, we will work to find common ground and compromise where necessary. This is an issue around which Scotland’s Parliament can and must come together in order to protect the rights of everyone to live their lives free from harm or fear.”