Section 67 — Fees

Part of Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 10:15 am on 8th March 2007.

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Photo of Kenneth Macintosh Kenneth Macintosh Labour 10:15 am, 8th March 2007

For local authorities, the costs of disclosures are met—they are included in the grant-aided expenditure for local government. All authorities that have contracts with voluntary sector bodies for provision of statutory services have a duty to meet those costs. That has to be built into the contract. The issue has therefore been addressed.

As I was saying, it is misleading to give anyone special treatment, but we have to be careful to ensure that the voluntary sector continues to play its vital role in providing services across the board, so we should continue to monitor the situation.

I want to speak about amendment 37 in particular. I tried to address the same issue with an amendment at stage 2. There is no doubt that the voluntary sector is genuinely anxious about the possibility of a radical increase in or realignment of fees. I accepted the Executive's arguments and reassurances at stage 2, but I mooted the option of using the affirmative procedure to govern future changes in fee levels. The Subordinate Legislation Committee looked into the matter, and we decided that the affirmative procedure would probably be a disproportionate and cumbersome parliamentary procedure when most increases will be routine inflationary rises. Any future rises in fee levels will still be subject to the negative procedure; in other words, any abnormal or radical increase will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny. I do not doubt the ability of the voluntary sector or of parliamentarians to use the negative procedure effectively to raise any concerns.