Legislative Programme 2008/09
Scottish Government Programme 2008/09
Briefing No. 188 September 2008
The Scottish Government has announced its legislative
programme for the coming year.
It includes 15 Bills to be presented to Parliament
in the coming year in addition to those already in progress. The
programme also outlines some non-legislative actions and future
plans. This briefing describes the programme with a focus on the
legislation that impacts on UNISON members.
Council Tax abolition
The replacement of the Council tax with a so called
'Local' Income Tax (LIT) is probably the most controversial proposal
and the one that has the greatest impact on UNISON members.
Apart from the direct threat to 5000 members' jobs
the proposal leaves a huge black hole in council finances variously
calculated at between £750m and £1.3bn. At a time when councils
claim to be unable to fund a decent pay rise this will add enormously
to the financial problems. As the tax will be set centrally it
will also undermine local democracy making it difficult for councils
to respond to local priorities.
For individual members LIT shifts the burden of
taxation from property owners to workers and in particular working
There are also a wide range of practical and legal
issues highlighted in the consultation responses that the Scottish
Government has ignored. For more details see P&I Briefing
The programme recognises that climate change is
one of the most serious threats facing Scotland. The Scottish
Climate Change bill will propose that Scottish emissions should
be reduced by 80% by 2050.
UNISON welcomes this bill but has called for statutory
targets of at least 3% per year emission reductions together with
the inclusion of aviation and shipping. We also want the public
sector to lead the way through negotiated green workplace agreements.
More details in P&I Briefing 181.
The programme also includes a Flood Risk Management
Bill that will reform flooding legislation and a Marine Bill focussed
on the conservation of our seas.
A Criminal Justice Bill will reform sentencing provisions
and introduce measures to protect victims and witnesses. UNISON
views this Bill as an opportunity to amend the Emergency Workers
Act to ensure that more public service workers are protected from
This Bill may also be a vehicle to introduce reforms
recommended by the Prison Commission when it reports on initiatives
to prevent offending and reduce re-offending.
There will also be a Legal Profession Bill that
aims to make it possible for legal services to be delivered in
Of particular concern to UNISON is Lord Gill's deeply
flawed review of the civil justice system and the threat to personal
injury actions on behalf of workers injured at work.
There will be a Health Bill that will include further
measures to control the availability and promotion of tobacco.
It will also debar commercial companies from bidding to provide
GP services. These are both measures that UNISON welcomes.
The programme confirms a range of previously published
the Health Boards Bill that will introduce direct
elections to NHS Boards, a long standing UNISON policy.
Less welcome is the building of local health and
community care centres through the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT).
The SFT proposal includes the Hub initiative for local facilities,
a version of the English LIFT PFI scheme that is privatising local
health and community care facilities.
The programme includes a Rural Schools Bill that
aims to improve consultation on school closures and an amendment
to the Additional Support for Learning Act to strengthen provisions
for young people with additional support needs.
After consultation there will be a Children's Hearings
Bill to reform the Children's Hearing system that UNISON will
The programme again reiterates previously published
proposals including the Skills Strategy and the Review of Scotland's
Colleges. Plans for early year's services remain rather vague.
Funding for local councils to enable them to fully
implement initiatives such as free school meals and smaller class
sizes will continue to be problematic.
The Scottish Parliament and Local Government Elections
Bill will decouple these elections a measure UNISON strongly supports.
There will be a Public Service Reform Bill that
seeks to implement the Scottish Government simplification programme
the details of which are still unclear but will impact on NDPB
The Budget Bill will as usual be an important piece
of legislation setting out the Scottish Government's spending
plans. Much of the rhetoric in the non-legislative sections of
the programme, such as housing, require realistic funding allocations
if the words are to be converted into action.
The programme Moving Scotland Forward can
be viewed at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/236931/0065009.pdf
Individual legislative proposals will be the subject
of further P&I Briefings when the Bills are published.
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