Before section 87

Part of Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 10:30 am on 8th March 2007.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Robert Brown Robert Brown Liberal Democrat 10:30 am, 8th March 2007

Amendment 17 is important. The need for the Scottish Parliament to keep an eye on implementation has been a recurring theme throughout the parliamentary consideration of the bill. I obviously have no difficulty with implementation being subject to parliamentary scrutiny or with ministers being held to account. I have commented as such already this morning. I have given substantial undertakings to the Parliament as to how the Executive will run a detailed and inclusive consultation process with stakeholders to pre-empt and avoid any difficulties so that people are comfortable with the implementation of the act. I accept that the Parliament will seek something more than good intentions from current ministers—particularly at this stage in the electoral cycle. Lord James Douglas-Hamilton lodged an amendment at stage 2 to require ministers to report on the operation of the legislation. We had a lot of discussion about that, and there was a fair degree of support for the idea in general. I am grateful to Lord James Douglas-Hamilton for raising the matter at that stage.

We have always been clear about the need for a reporting mechanism of some sort between the Executive or organisation and the Parliament. We have discussed the way forward on that with solicitors. Amendment 17 places a duty on ministers to prepare and lay before Parliament an annual report detailing the performance of their vetting, barring and disclosure functions—effectively, the operation of the central barring unit. That reporting requirement will be useful in holding ministers to account to the Scottish Parliament on a regular basis, and it will allow members and committees to raise issues on fees and other subjects on an annual basis if they wish to do so, in line with reporting arrangements in other areas. That will keep minds focused on delivering a strong performance through the new agency. I view the move as a positive one, which I think should command the acceptance of the Parliament.

I move amendment 17.