Disclosure (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 16th January 2020.

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Photo of Maree Todd Maree Todd Scottish National Party

Certainly. As I said, we are more than happy to work with bodies that represent volunteers in Scotland to see whether there is a change in the level of volunteering. As Mr Greer does, I understand just how significant children and young people’s volunteering is. In fact, children and young people volunteer at about twice the rate of adults, so volunteering is important not only for children but for Scotland, so we must ensure that they are able to continue to volunteer and that we do not introduce any barriers to that.

On penalties for the offence under the bill, I reassure members that when we introduce a mandatory scheme, it can be effective only if it is supported by a criminal offence for non-compliance. However, the penalties in the bill are consistent with provisions in existing legislation. Although the legislation currently includes the penalty of imprisonment, there has been no sentencing to prison of people who have not navigated the system appropriately since the legislation was introduced.

All those issues are important. I thank members for raising them throughout the debate. Although we are focusing on the general principles at this stage, I again reassure members that the discussion with stakeholders on the proposals in the bill, on implementation and on planning will continue.

I again offer to meet members from all parties. I am open to discussing the detail of the bill and taking the time that is needed to work through the complexities.

I consider that the committee’s approval of the principles and the general tone of today’s debate are indicative of a shared view across the parties that we need to reform the disclosure system. Together, we can ensure that it continues to protect the most vulnerable people in our society, while also being rights-respecting and proportionate. I look forward to taking our next steps together.