Criminal Justice Bill

Justice and Law Officers – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 14th June 2007.

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. John Park (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive when it intends to bring forward a criminal justice bill. (S3O-246)

Photo of Kenny MacAskill Kenny MacAskill Scottish National Party

Last week, as the member might recall, I set out our priorities for a safer, stronger Scotland. We are considering in more detail what legislation is needed to deliver those priorities and we will bring forward proposals in due course.

Photo of John Park John Park Labour

I welcome the minister to his new role—this is the first opportunity that I have had to do so.

The minister will be aware that there is significant cross-party support for the introduction of corporate homicide legislation. I understand that, due to a number of complex factors, there was insufficient parliamentary time in session 2 to deal with Karen Gillon's member's bill on the subject.

Given that, in 2005, when he was in opposition, the minister stated that

"Legislation on corporate homicide is not only supported in principle across Parliament and throughout the country, but is urgently needed now", can he advise the chamber today whether the new Administration intends to bring forward such legislation?

Photo of Kenny MacAskill Kenny MacAskill Scottish National Party

As the member might recall, I and the Scottish National Party fully supported Karen Gillon's bill. However, unfortunately, the previous Administration decided that a different route should be taken in terms of how we co-operated and interacted with the legislation that was introduced south of the border. Certainly, our position is that action needs to be taken. With us in the chamber today is the Solicitor General for Scotland, Frank Mulholland, who was pivotal in pursuing the Transco case that was, perhaps, the genesis of Karen Gillon's interest in these matters.

We wish to ensure that adequate legislation is available, and we undertake to determine whether what was brought in by the previous Administration is adequate and fit for purpose. If it is not, we will need to review it.

Photo of Bill Aitken Bill Aitken Conservative

Leaving aside the issue of corporate homicide, does the cabinet secretary agree that, bearing in mind the plethora of criminal justice legislation that we have seen in the past eight years—much of which was of dubious value—we might be as well leaving things as they are until a full assessment is carried out of the effectiveness of some of the acts that we have already passed?

Photo of Kenny MacAskill Kenny MacAskill Scottish National Party

This Government is conscious that legislation alone is insufficient, particularly in the area of justice. We have had a restored Scottish Parliament for only eight years but, clearly, our independent legal system—whether the constabulary or the offices of the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General—served us well in the centuries prior to the Scottish Parliament being restored. It is quite clear that we have to ensure that legislation adds value to the institutions that have served us well. There is a role for legislation, and I have no doubt that it will be required, whether it originates from this Government or, indeed, elsewhere—we will be happy to take on legislation from the Justice Committee or Opposition parties.

Although the point is well made that we need to allow legislation that relates to institutions that deliver frontline justice and law services to have some opportunity to bed in, we will not hesitate to legislate where it is necessary to do so. However, I agree that there is some wisdom in the adage that those who legislate in haste repent at leisure.