5th Report, 2015 (Session 4): Annual Report 2014-2015

SP Paper 740 (Web Only)

Contents

Remit

Report

Introduction

Inquiries and reports

Electoral management of the Scottish Independence Referendum
Recommendations of the Smith Commission and the UK Government’s draft legislative clauses

Bills

Scottish Elections (Reduction of Voting Age) Bill

Legislative Consent Memoranda

Subordinate Legislation

Petitions

Engagement and innovation

Votes at 16
Proposals for further devolution
Twitter

Equalities

Meetings

Remit and membership

Remit:

To consider matters relating to The Scotland Act 1998 (Modification of Schedule 5) Order 2013, the Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013, its implementation and any associated legislation. Furthermore, (i) until the end of November 2014 or when the final report of the Scotland Devolution Commission has been published, to facilitate engagement of stakeholders with the Scotland Devolution Commission and to engage in an agreed programme of work with the Commission as it develops its proposals; and (ii) thereafter, to consider the work of the Scotland Devolution Commission, the proposals it makes for further devolution to the Scottish Parliament, other such proposals for further devolution and any legislation to implement such proposals that may be introduced in the UK Parliament or Scottish Parliament after the Commission has published its final report.

Membership:

Bruce Crawford (Convener)
Linda Fabiani
Alex Johnstone
Alison Johnstone
Rob Gibson
Lewis Macdonald
Stewart Maxwell
Mark McDonald
Stuart McMillan
Duncan McNeil (Deputy Convener)
Tavish Scott

Committee Clerking Team:

Clerk to the Committee
Stephen Imrie

Senior Assistant Clerk
Stephen Herbert

Committee Assistant
Heather Galway

 

Annual Report 2014-2015

Introduction

1. This report covers the work of the Devolution (Further Powers) Committee during the parliamentary year from 11 May 2014 to 10 May 2015.

2. The Committee was formed in November 2014 as a successor to the Referendum (Scotland) Bill Committee to take forward the work of its predecessor following the Scottish Independence Referendum and consider the findings of the Smith Commission and any subsequent proposals for legislation.

Inquiries and reports

Electoral management of the Scottish Independence Referendum

3. One of the first tasks of the Committee following its formation was to review the management of the Scottish Independence Referendum which had been held on 18 September 2014. The Committee held two evidence sessions on this issue, taking evidence from the Electoral Management Board for Scotland, the Scottish Assessors Association and the SOLAR Elections Working Group at its meeting on 18 December 2014, and, on 8 January 2015, from representatives of the Electoral Commission.

4. The Committee’s report was published on 11 March 2015. The report covered a range of issues including: the overall management of the Referendum; the approach of local authorities to the discussion of the Independence Referendum in schools; public understanding of the electoral process; electoral registration deadlines; and, individual electoral registration.

Recommendations of the Smith Commission and the UK Government’s draft legislative clauses

5. The Committee’s major inquiry, currently on-going, has been to scrutinise the recommendations of the Smith Commission and the subsequent proposals from the UK Government in the form of draft legislative clauses.

6. To date, the Committee has held a series of evidence sessions with Scottish and UK Government ministers, Lord Smith of Kelvin, tax experts, welfare and benefits specialists, The Crown Estate and interest groups, civic bodies, voluntary organisations, business organisations and trades unions have also given evidence to the Committee.

7. The Committee’s interim report was agreed on 30 April and is expected to be published in May 2015. The interim report will summarise the evidence that the Committee has taken so far on the major components within the package of measures being proposed by the UK Government, and the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations at this stage of the process.

8. Following publication of the interim report, the Committee’s work will continue with an in-depth scrutiny of any bill introduced by a new UK Government following the UK General Election. This scrutiny will include the issue of recommending to the Scottish Parliament as to whether it should give its legislative consent to the proposals for further devolution.

Bills

Scottish Elections (Reduction of Voting Age) Bill

9. In this parliamentary year, the Committee has begun its scrutiny of the recently introduced Scottish Elections (Reduction of Voting Age) Bill. This Bill was introduced by the Scottish Government on 2 April 2015, to lower the voting age to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote in Scottish Parliament and local government elections.

10. If the Bill is passed it will enable registration officers to put in place the arrangements to ensure 16 and 17 year olds are able to vote in the May 2016 Scottish Parliament election. As well as providing for the lowering of the voting age to 16 for Scottish Parliament and local government elections in Scotland, including by-elections, the Bill would also reduce the voting age to 16 for any other poll using the franchise for local government elections in Scotland, such as elections for membership of a National Park authority.

Legislative Consent Memoranda

11. The Committee has not yet considered any Legislative Consent Memoranda but expects to do so as part of any future scrutiny of any bill introduced by a new UK Government following the UK General Election to devolve further powers to the Scottish Parliament or Scottish Government.

Subordinate Legislation

12. The Committee’s only statutory instrument considered as part of this parliamentary year was the draft Order introduced to transfer powers to the Scottish Parliament to enable it to bring forward the Scottish Elections (Reduction of Voting Age) Bill.

13. The Committee’s report on the Scotland Act 1998 (Modification of Schedules 4 and 5 and Transfer of Functions to the Scottish Ministers etc.) Order 2015 was published on 2 March 2015, with the Committee recommending that the Scottish Parliament gives its agreement to this draft Order, which it subsequently did unanimously.

Petitions

14. The Committee has had no petitions referred to it to deal with.

Engagement and innovation

Votes at 16

15. As part of the Committee’s work on scrutinising the plans for votes at 16 in future Scottish elections, the Committee undertook an extensive programme of public engagement, particularly with first-time, young adults on their experiences of voting in the Independence Referendum.

16. As part of Parliament Days in Fort William and Levenmouth, the Committee visited high schools in these areas and gathered the views of school pupils. We met with over 200, 16-17 year olds and this enabled us to also question them on whether they were likely to vote again, and whether the voting age for Scottish Parliament and local government elections should be reduced to 16.

Parliament Day in Fort William: Bruce Crawford MSP, Convener, with pupils from Lochaber High School

17. The Committee also produced an online survey which was circulated around schools and colleges and put on our website. At close, the survey had been completed by over 1200, 16-17 year olds. The Committee also allowed views to be submitted in video format; 7 video responses were received and they were collated and uploaded onto the Scottish Parliament YouTube channel.

Results of the Committee’s online survey of 16-17 year old voters

Proposals for further devolution

18. The Committee also travelled to Hamilton, Aberdeen and Shetland to meet local business and civic organisations, as well as hold public meetings for people to have their say on the plans for further devolution. These trips all consisted of a private meeting between Committee members and local stakeholders and a public meeting. The main focus of all the meetings was to garner feedback on the recommendations in the Smith Commission’s Report and the subsequent draft legislative clauses published by the UK Government. These private meetings allowed us to get a more in-depth understanding of the local issues and perspectives on the proposals for further devolution and also enabled the Committee to meet with over 150 people in local communities.

Twitter

19. In this parliamentary year, the Committee established its own Twitter account (@SP_DevoCttee), now with nearly 1,700 followers, making it one of the fastest growing and the most followed accounts of its type in the Parliament. In March 2015, the Committee’s tweet on a letter received from the Scotland Office on devolution plans received the most click throughs compared to similar tweets.

Equalities

20. The Committee continues to make a dedicated effort to diversify the witnesses presenting evidence to the Committee via oral evidence, and has particularly sought to hear from women during the course of its work. The Committee’s scrutiny of the devolution proposals has also focused upon a number of equalities matters, including socio-economic inequalities and gender quotas.

Meetings

21. The Committee met 17 times during the Parliamentary year. One meeting was held entirely in private and nine other meetings included items in private.

22. The majority of items taken in private were to consider draft reports, consider oral evidence which had been taken earlier in the meeting and the Committee’s work programme. All formal Committee meetings were held in Edinburgh.


Any links to external websites in this report were working correctly at the time of publication. However, the Scottish Parliament cannot accept responsibility for content on external websites

Back to top

This website is using cookies.
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we’ll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on this website.