SNP ministers have been urged to bring back updated plans to bring a key UK treaty into Scottish law ‘as a matter of urgency’.
The Scottish Government is due to inform MSPs this afternoon of plans to overhaul two bills which have been blocked by the UK Government which successfully appealed to the Supreme Court.
Last year, MSPs unanimously supported Scottish Government legislation to incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into Scottish law.
But alongside a bill to incorporate the European Charter of Local Self-Government into Scottish law, the Supreme Court concluded that the two pieces of legislation fell outside the remit of devolution.
The Herald previously revealed on Sunday that the Scottish Government had called on UK ministers to extend the powers of Holyrood to ensure the Bill was competent with the devolution regulation.
READ MORE: SNP plays ‘roulette’ after five options offered to rewrite decentralization regulations
One of the options offered to British ministers was to give Holyrood equal jurisdiction over all devolved laws, whether Scottish Parliament legislation or Acts of the British Parliament. The move would allow the Scottish Government’s currently flawed children’s rights legislation to apply to any UK Parliament legislation in a devolved area.
Other proposals submitted to UK ministers would allow Scottish courts to apply UN human rights treaties in any legislation in devolved areas, including Acts of the UK Parliament, while another option would specify that the courts could only apply the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Ministers will brief Holyrood on the way forward for the two bills, amid calls from political opponents to present updated plans without delay.
The European Charter of Local Self-Government Bill is now sponsored by Green MP Mark Ruskell, having originally been introduced as a bill by former Green MP Andy Wightman.
LibDem MSP Willie Rennie said: “The Scottish Government should bring the UNCRC Bill back to Parliament as a matter of urgency.
“This whole saga has been embarrassing. Parliament has been encouraged to vote for a bill which ministers had been warned was outside its purview.
“Rather than make changes and come back with a new bill, the SNP figures decided to argue with their British counterparts.”
He added: “There is no doubt that the SNP’s commitment to children’s rights will always play second fiddle to its obsession with the constitution.
“At the same time, it is important to remember that this bill is a statement of intent and not a silver bullet. From caring for experienced youngsters to extra-curricular activities, there is a range of changes the government could make to improve the lives of children. , even before a new UNCRC bill is in place.”
Michael Marra, Scotland’s Labor Education Spokesperson, said: “This is a chance for the SNP to stop using children’s rights as a football and acting politically.
“We don’t need any more grandstanding or game-playing from the SNP – we need a clear timetable to deliver this legislation with the necessary urgency.”
He added: “Children can no longer wait for the protections this Parliament unanimously agreed to over a year ago.
“The SNP must abandon the meaningless rhetoric and focus on fixing the mess it has made of these laws.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We remain committed to incorporating the UNCRC into Scottish law as far as possible as soon as possible.
“It is essential that we work through the complex issues raised by the Supreme Court judgment to ensure that incorporation can take place as quickly as possible with the certainty that any amendments to the bill do not attract further challenges. The majority of work related to the implementation of the UNCRC continues.
“One of the aspects we have been pursuing is engagement with the UK Government to consider whether the powers under the Decentralization Regulations can be used to give the UNCRC Bill greater effect than is possible in under the present powers of the Scottish Parliament.”