Views sought on legislative reform.
A new consultation launched today will seek the public’s views on legislative reform to support Scotland’s recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The consultation sets out a range of proposals, including whether some beneficial temporary provisions made under Scottish and UK coronavirus legislation and due to expire in March 2022 should be maintained.
The public will have 12 weeks until the consultation period ends on 9 November to share their views on the proposals.
- maintaining provisions in the UK Coronavirus Act that enable Scottish Ministers to enact measures via public health regulations for any future public health threats, in line with powers that are already in statute in England and Wales
- a change in the law that will allow a wider range of health professionals such as nurses, midwives and paramedics to give vaccinations and immunisations
- maintaining pre-eviction protocols relating to rent arrears in the private rented sector, ensuring that tenants have all the information they need about their rights, and placing more responsibility on landlords to ensure correct procedures are followed
- whether the extended statutory time-limits for criminal proceedings should temporarily remain in place to help the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service manage the backlog of cases arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure cases can continue to be heard, through greater flexibility in the programming of court business
- maintaining remote registration of deaths and still-births by phone or other methods, without the need to go to a registration office in person, in addition to a new proposal to extend this flexibility to live births
The consultation also asks people to suggest any additional measures or legislation not covered in the consultation that could support Scotland’s recovery.
Deputy First Minister and COVID Recovery Secretary John Swinney said:
“This consultation focuses on reviewing the legislative powers that have supported our response to COVID-19. We want to ensure we remove measures no longer needed in order to respond to the pandemic whilst keeping those where there is demonstrable benefit to the people of Scotland.
“This is an opportunity to maintain changes that have been welcomed by people who now don’t want to lose transformations that have been innovative, beneficial, and increased access to services.
“While the pandemic has been incredibly disruptive, its urgency has forced the public services we rely on to adapt and continue and still deliver, driving the pace of digital adoption, and in some cases more efficient ways of working. As we enter the recovery phase, we now have a unique opportunity to reimagine how health and social care, learning and justice services can be designed and delivered around the lives and needs of the people who use them.
“I invite everyone to have their say on what this future should look like to support a fair, safe and secure recovery. Your views on these proposals will inform any future legislation to be brought forward on these topics for full scrutiny and debate in Parliament.
“We remain committed to expiring or suspending any existing provisions that are no longer necessary, and will continue to report to Parliament every two months on the use of any temporary powers.”
- Covid recovery: public health, services and justice system reforms – Scottish Government – Citizen Space (consult.gov.scot)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) legislation – gov.scot (www.gov.scot)
Ken Dalling, President of the Law Society of Scotland, said:
“We welcome this consultation, which will give the Law Society as well as other interested organisations and individuals the opportunity to consider the impact of the policy changes brought in to respond to the pandemic.
“As public health restrictions are lifting it is important to examine exactly what is in place and to consider where there are longer term benefits in continuing as we are, where changes are no longer needed, and where there should be additional measures to help support this next phase of recovery. The Law Society looks forward to considering and responding to the consultation in detail in the coming weeks.”
Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, said:
“These protections can give private tenants more time and support to work through rent arrears and we welcome plans to make them permanent.
“No one should face the trauma and indignity of losing their home. But while Scotland has some of the best protections in the world for people experiencing homelessness, far too many people are forced to reach crisis point before they can access the support they need.
“We know that the best way to end homelessness is to prevent it happening in the first place. That means offering people who face the prospect of losing their home help at an early stage and for public services and landlords to work together to provide the assistance they need.”
Angela Leitch, Chief Executive, Public Health Scotland:
“Public Health Scotland welcomes the Scottish Government’s consultation on COVID recovery. It’s important that partners from across the public health system are involved in considerations about what we need in place as a country to counter the public health issues that may arise in the future. We look forward to contributing to the next steps for recovery and the creation of a fairer and more equal Scotland post-COVID.”