First Minister Alex Salmond today outlined his governments business
for the new parliament
Scottish news: Independence referendum and same-sex marriage dominate SNP government programme
by Andy Mackie
First Minister Alex Salmond announced details of the Scottish government’s 2012/2013 legislative programme today.
As expected the plans include a Referendum Bill which will pave the way for a vote on independence in 2014 and the Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill which will allow same-sex marriages.
Other notable pieces of legislation include the Children and Young People Bill which promises 600 hours "free early learning and childcare provision" and The Criminal Justice Bill which will reform the system for investigating and prosecuting crime in Scotland. The latter follows recommendations in Lord Calloway’s review of Scots Law which suggested the abolition of the requirement for corroboration.
While Mr Salmond claimed the government’s programme would “add to the achievements of the Scottish parliament” it came under fire from leaders of the opposition parties.
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Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont claimed that the announcement was a “wasted opportunity” and accused the government of neglecting the welfare of Scotland in favour of pushing a pro-independence referendum. Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson claimed that the SNP administration’s plans were driven by anti-UK sentiment. She said the programme was "dominated by one thing, and one thing only, the Scottish government's obsession with tearing apart the UK.”
Scottish Secretary Michael Moore meanwhile issued a statement calling on the Scottish government to finalise details of the referendum urgently. His statement said: “The Scottish government's own timetable means it is now imperative that we finalise the arrangements for the referendum as soon as possible."
Mr Salmond revealed that the vote on the Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill would be a free one with MSPs able to vote by their conscience. The bill has been a controversial one with both the Church of Scotland and Catholic Church opposing the plans. However, the announcement gained cross party support at Holyrood. Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie described the proposal as “modern,fair and equal” and applauded Nicola Sturgeon for proposing it. Mrs Lamont also voiced her support and said that it was an area where there was agreement between the SNP and Labour.
Full list of bills included in the Scottish government’s 2012/2013 legislative programme
1. Referendum Bill
2. Budget Bill
3. Procurement Reform Bill
4. Bankruptcy Bill
5. Better Regulation Bill
6. Land and Buildings Transaction Tax Bill
7. Landfill Tax Bill
8. Adult Health & Social Care Integration Bill
9. Children and Young People Bill
10. Post-16 Education Reform Bill
11. Forth Estuary Transport Authority Bill
12. Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill
13. Victims and Witnesses Bill
14. Tribunals Bill
15. Criminal Justice Bill
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