Section 17 — Information relevant to listing decisions

Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 9:16 am on 8th March 2007.

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Photo of George Reid George Reid None 9:16 am, 8th March 2007

Group 1 is on findings of fact in relation to relevant inquiry reports. Amendment 11, in the name of the minister, is the only amendment in the group.

Photo of Robert Brown Robert Brown Liberal Democrat

I lodged amendment 11 in response to concerns that the convener of the Education Committee, Iain Smith, expressed about the use of findings of fact of inquiries of the Scottish Parliament for the purposes of making listing decisions. In the bill as introduced, such findings of fact were one of several categories of findings of fact that could be relied on, and people would be barred from challenging them at a later point. The issue is whether an individual should be able to contest those findings of fact when they are under consideration for listing.

The bill identifies certain categories of findings of fact that cannot be contested by an individual who is under consideration for listing, such as findings of fact by a court or in proceedings by a regulatory body. It is important to say that all findings of fact, other than those on which convictions are based, can be contested on appeal against listing.

The point was made to the committee that a Scottish Parliament inquiry operates in a manner that is rather different from what happens in other situations in which findings of fact cannot be contested. For example, the way in which matters are deliberated on and evidence is selected for consideration is rather less like the judicial and quasi-judicial processes of findings of fact that the bill protects. Furthermore, the individual concerned may not have the opportunity to challenge the findings of a Scottish parliamentary inquiry.

Amendment 11 will take us to a sensible position whereby inquiries of the Scottish Parliament can form the basis of a referral to the central barring unit—it would be unacceptable if that possibility did not exist as a result of a major parliamentary inquiry—but findings of fact by that inquiry will be open to challenge by the individual concerned.

I move amendment 11.

Photo of Iain Smith Iain Smith Liberal Democrat

Robert Brown has eloquently explained the purpose behind amendment 11, which was lodged in response to an amendment that I lodged at stage 2.

I want to put on record our appreciation of the positive way in which the minister has responded, through the amendments that he has lodged at stage 3, not only to the Education Committee's stage 1 inquiry, but to the points that were raised at stage 2. As a result, these stage 3 proceedings will probably be much easier than we feared they would be some months ago. I thank him for his responses and for accepting the point that I made at stage 2.

Amendment 11 agreed to.