Section 17 — Information relevant to listing decisions

Part of 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 Robert Brown Robert Brown Liberal Democrat 9:16 am, 8th March 2007

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.