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Legislative planning continues to be impacted by the unwelcome requirement to divert resources to prepare for a no-deal Brexit. As a consequence, individual bill timetables are subject to continual review. As minister with responsibility for parliamentary business, I discuss that with the Parliamentary Bureau and relevant committee conveners on a regular basis.
However, I can advise Mr Greene that, as things stand, the Scottish Government is on course to introduce all the bills in the current programme for government ahead of the announcement of our next programme.
The minister has no sense of shame in that answer, given the incredible strain that today’s announcement for an independence referendum bill will have on this Parliament.
Last year’s programme for government announced 12 bills. How many of those bills will have been published in this Parliament before summer recess, and how many of them will have been passed before the end of this session of Parliament?
Sometimes in Government we feel that we cannot win. A few moments ago, we were being accused of bringing in one bill too many and now we are accused of not introducing enough. Let me offer members a degree of context and assurance on the issue: despite the significant and growing impact of Brexit, the work of Government and this Parliament continues. We anticipate that more bills will achieve royal assent in 2019 than did so last year. Furthermore, when Parliament returns in September, this Administration will have a full programme of fresh and exciting new legislation to announce.
That stands in marked contrast to Westminster, where Mr Greene’s party is in power, and where they have run out of non-Brexit business to consider. It is reported that they are so paralysed by Brexit and ravaged by the divisions that it has caused that they are struggling to put together a sufficient programme of bills that they can agree on to present in a Queen’s speech.
There are no plans to remove anything from the Government’s programme of business. We intend to introduce all the bills that we previously intended, and I have every faith in the Parliament’s ability to work its way through that programme and to see those bills to a conclusion.