Swinney announces plans to make UNCRC bill intra vires
Plans to progress children’s rights legislation have been announced by Deputy First Minister John Swinney.
The UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill was backed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament in March 2021, but could not be implemented because of a legal challenge brought by the UK government. In October, the Supreme Court ruled that certain parts of the bill were ultra vires.
The Scottish government has now set out how it will address this. Over the next few weeks, there will be “targeted engagement” with relevant organisations and children and young people on proposed changes to the bill. These will then be brought before Parliament via the reconsideration stage.
Mr Swinney said: “The UNCRC Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament to deliver the highest protection possible for children’s rights. The Supreme Court ruling was bitterly disappointing, but we have fully respected and carefully considered its implications.
“We sought support from the UK government to make modest adjustments to the Scotland Act to address the issues with the devolution settlement that the Supreme Court ruling highlighted. Despite their public commitment to engage constructively, this was rejected by the Secretary of State for Scotland.
“As a result, we will remove UK Acts from the remedial provisions within the bill, which is a dilution of the effect of the legislation, and we will consult with children and young people on the proposed changes.
“It is disappointing that this will not become law in the form which our Parliament agreed. However, we can now move forward with legislation to build a Scotland where respect for human rights anchors our society and the institutions which govern and deliver public services.”
A UK government spokesperson said: “The UK government made suggestions during the passage of the UNCRC Bill about how it could be brought within the Scottish Parliament’s existing powers, which were unfortunately rejected by Scottish ministers.
“The Supreme Court subsequently determined that the legislation was not within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament.
“We have continued to engage constructively with the Scottish government since and we stand ready to engage further if the Scottish government wants to bring their bill within the devolved powers of the Scottish Parliament, which we fully respect and will maintain.”