Scottish Parliament refuses to close incompetent petition after SLN inquiry
The Scottish Parliament has declined to close a petition to modify a law that does not apply in Scotland.
Petition PE1969 is entitled ‘Amend the law to fully decriminalise abortion in Scotland’ and claims that the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 makes abortion a criminal offence in Scotland.
Yet section 78 of the 1861 Act is entitled: Act not to extend to Scotland. It reads: “Nothing in this Act contained shall extend to Scotland, except as herein-before otherwise expressly provided.”
The petition falsely states: “Abortion is not decriminalised in Scotland. The Offences Against the Person Act 1861 made abortion a criminal offence (punishable with life in prison in the U.K.).”
A Scottish Parliament spokesperson told SLN that the petition was “accepted in line with the Standing Orders of the Scottish Parliament”.
Rule 15.5 of the Standing Orders concerns the admissibility of petitions and details circumstances under which a petition is inadmissible.
Under Rule 15.5(1)(c) a petition is inadmissible if it “requests the Parliament to do anything which the Parliament clearly has no power to do” – such as in this case.
The spokesperson said: “The petition will be available for consideration by the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee once the period for collecting signatures has concluded.”
Scottish Legal News looks forward to Holyrood’s attempt to vary the law of France next.