Covid-19 Recovery (Parliamentary Procedure)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 1st September 2021.

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Photo of Alexander Stewart Alexander Stewart Conservative

6. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will commit to ensuring that any legislation it introduces to support the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic does not seek to allow regulations to be made or changed without being subject to the affirmative parliamentary procedure. (S6O-00070)

Photo of George Adam George Adam Scottish National Party

I thank Alexander Stewart for asking the first question that I will answer as a minister.

The Government is currently consulting on 30 public health, public services and justice system proposals that have the potential to support Covid recovery. Given the range of topics and potential scenarios that are covered by the consultation, the Government cannot commit to the standard affirmative procedure applying in all circumstances in bills that we introduce following the consultation.

However, I assure the member that we will consider carefully how we ensure that the Scottish Parliament is able effectively to scrutinise regulations that the Scottish Government brings forward in future. Of course, any bill that the Government introduces will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny and there will be the opportunity for the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee and other committees of the Parliament to consider fully the procedures that apply to delegated powers.

Photo of Alexander Stewart Alexander Stewart Conservative

Under the current coronavirus legislation, regulations do not have to be proactively put before the Scottish Parliament if the Scottish ministers consider that they need to be made urgently. Does the minister agree that it is not acceptable to enact, or approve without a vote, regulations that affect everyone’s lives? Will he rule out the inclusion of provisions in that regard in any legislation under the temporary coronavirus powers?

Photo of George Adam George Adam Scottish National Party

As the situation with the pandemic has changed, ministers have had to take swift action in relation to legal restrictions and requirements, and the emergency coronavirus regulations have been required to take effect quickly. That is the case not only when restrictions require to be imposed quickly, but when they require to be lifted because they are no longer necessary.

The procedure allows for a swift response to put restrictions in place and to lift them when they are no longer needed. There is a time and a place for us to take action to make things better for the people of Scotland.