A call for views into the Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) (Scotland) Bill has been launched by several Scottish Parliament Committees.
The wide-ranging Scottish Government Bill, seeks to make permanent some of the temporary, emergency legislation introduced during the pandemic, and to extend others, which are due to expire by March 2022.
The Bill covers a number of policy areas including alcohol licensing, bankruptcy, justice, education (closing establishments and continuity of education), freedom of information, and vaccinations and immunisations.
Some key proposals outlined in the Bill include:
• 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 place in England and Wales;
• maintaining provisions that grant Scottish Ministers power to restrict access to educational establishments on public health grounds;
• maintaining pre-eviction protocols relating to rent arrears in the private rented sector, placing more responsibility on landlords to ensure correct procedures are followed and that tenants are fully informed of their rights;
• allowing extended time-limits for criminal proceedings to temporarily remain in place to help the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service manage the backlog of cases arising from COVID-19; and allowing cases to continue to be heard through digital and physical means.
Four Parliament Committees will analyse the Bill. The COVID-19 Recovery Committee is the lead Committee scrutinising the Bill; while the Criminal Justice Committee will consider the justice policy measures; the Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee will consider the tenancy and eviction policy measures; and the Education, Children and Young People Committee will look into education related provisions.
Speaking as the inquiry was launched, Siobhian Brown MSP, Convener of the COVID-19 Recovery Committee said:
“This pandemic has impacted almost every aspect of our lives, from restrictions on how we live, to mass vaccinations and significant changes in how public services are delivered.
“The threat of COVID-19 meant a great number of temporary, emergency legislatives measure were introduced at speed, but with these measures due to expire in March 2022, the time is now to decide which of these in the Bill should be put in place permanently.
“We recognise the size and scope of this Bill mean a diverse range of people and organisations may wish to comment on it. That’s why respondents will have the option to complete a short survey, where they can give their views on a specific aspect of the Bill, or a longer form, more detailed option is also available.”
“The Scottish Government’s stated aim for the Bill is to support Scotland’s recovery from the pandemic but we want to make sure it does not go too far, and that any changes which are made permanent act to benefit the people of Scotland and ease pressure on the public services we all rely on.”
The Convener continued:
“Given the wide-ranging nature of this proposed legislation, the Parliament was keen to ensure it was given an appropriate level of scrutiny. That’s why we are bringing several Committees together, who will work collaboratively and use their specific areas of expertise in order to assess the impact of this Bill as effectively as possible.”
Members of the public who wish to respond to our consultation can do so here: https://yourviews.parliament.scot/covid19/recovery-bill-survey
Stakeholder organisations can give us their views here: https://yourviews.parliament.scot/covid19/recovery-bill-detailed
The call for views closes on 25 February 2022.
More information on the Committee can be found on our website: COVID-19 Recovery Committee | Scottish Parliament Website
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