I will say a few words about the bill itself.
It is imperative that the bill is treated urgently so that it can be ensured that important protections are in place for people who rent their homes before cost rises impact their finances by the end of October this year.
We are dealing with a difficult issue, and things have moved on. It is important that the Parliament does something to support people in our communities who need support. I will leave it at that at this stage. I propose that we treat the bill as emergency legislation.
That the Parliament agrees that the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Bill be treated as an Emergency Bill.
I move that we do not support the suspension of the standing orders. The Scottish Government has insisted on enforcing an emergency legislation timetable in relation to the bill. That has meant that members saw the content of the bill only late last night, leaving them little time before the Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee met this morning and before they are being expected to debate the bill and vote on its general principles.
Prior to the introduction of Covid-19 emergency legislation, consultation was undertaken with the sectors that were directly impacted, but that is not the case with this bill. The Scottish housing market is complex, and unintended consequences of the bill will be clear. However, the decision by Scottish National Party-Green ministers has been made without any consultation with the sector’s representative bodies, and has resulted in much frantic activity since the announcement was made by the First Minister to assess the negative impacts that the bill will clearly have.
I hope that Parliament will consider that we need the opportunity to properly consider the bill and its impact. The process under which the bill has been introduced is unacceptable and flawed, and the Government has tried to bypass any in-depth scrutiny from Parliament. Organisations and businesses that will be impacted have highlighted that to us all.
I therefore ask ministers to provide members with the same opportunity that they had with the emergency Covid legislation to look at the bill in more detail, and I urge members to vote against the suspension of standing orders.
As I said, it is imperative that we pass the legislation and that it is treated as urgent, because of the impacts that it could have on people’s finances at the end of October 2022.
What the gentleman whose name I have forgotten—Miles Briggs—stated shows that we cannot win in this scenario. Last week, one of his colleagues accused us of sharing the bill with the sector, but now he is saying that we are not talking to anyone about the bill. He cannot have it both ways.
I find it strange that the Conservatives would take that tack. Call me a cynic, but I do not think that the Conservatives believed in the legislation to start with, which is the fundamental difference between us.
I will come on to some of the detail of the bill. As households in the rented sector, especially those on lower incomes—
No. Mr Simpson should listen to what I have to say about those people on lower incomes. They generally spend more of their income on housing costs than owner-occupiers do. They experience higher rates of income poverty and child poverty. Economic analysis suggests that additional measures are necessary to protect renters. The measures in the bill are intended to offer protection to tenants in recognition of the particular issues affecting people who rent their home as a result of the cost of living crisis, which, incidentally, was created by the United Kingdom Tory Government.
Given the urgency of the situation and the fact that the rise in fuel costs will have a significant impact on households in the rented sector, we consider that the provisions need to come into force before winter. Our announcement one month before bringing the emergency measures to Parliament ensured that our intentions were well known and allowed time for people to adjust their behaviour.
The proposed changes are needed urgently to ensure that we protect tenants from the disproportionate financial stress that the cost of living crisis has put them under. Any delay could have a terrible impact on our communities and would be devastating for many households throughout Scotland.
On a point of order, Presiding Officer. Has the Scottish Parliament provided all members with reassurance that the bill is compliant with article 1 of the first protocol of the European convention on human rights? There are rumours that there will be a legal challenge to the bill. Given that the Parliament has previously been informed about poor legislation facing legal challenge, will the Scottish Government let Parliament know about that?