Post-legislative Scrutiny

 

Post-legislative Scrutiny

Since the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, hundreds of Acts have been introduced. These have put in place new laws covering areas such as community care and mental health, the environment, criminal justice and standards in schools. There’s even been a dog fouling Act to keep our public spaces clean.       

We want to hear from you

A total of 260 new Acts have come into force over the past 18 years. We want to know which ones you’d like to be put to the test.

Which Act or Acts should be examined by the Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee? Do you think the Act is working in practice? Is it of particular importance to the people of Scotland? Does it make a big difference to people’s lives, such as vulnerable and hard to reach groups, or could it be improved?

More information is included below, along with a link to a downloadable form for your response. Please email the completed form, which should be no longer than 2-3 pages, to papls.committee@parliament.scot. If you cannot email the form, please send a hard copy to the Public Audit and Post-Legislative Scrutiny Committee, Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh,  EH99 1SP.

The closing date for suggestions is midday on Friday 28 July 2017. Please note that the Committee cannot guarantee that it will follow up on any suggestion made.

Please also note that we do not intend to publish suggestions; however, should you wish your suggestion to be published, please contact the clerks to the committee on the e-mail address above or on 0131 348 5390.

Background

On 29 September 2016, the Parliament agreed that the Public Audit Committee should also include post-legislative scrutiny within its remit.

The Parliament’s decision means that the Committee can now decide to consider previous Acts of the Scottish Parliament to determine whether they have achieved their intended purpose. This may mean examining a specific part of an Act rather than examining the legislation as a whole.

Between the establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 and the end of session 4 in May 2016, 260 bills[1] had been enacted (in other words, become law). It will only be possible to scrutinise a few of these Acts and, to help it decide which ones to consider, the Committee is inviting suggestions from members of the public and interested bodies.

Checklist

To make sure that your suggestions are as informed as possible, the Committee has agreed a checklist for anyone who would like to contribute. The clerks to the committee will be able to answer any questions about this checklist, and will be responsible for carrying out any required checks.

Please consider this checklist carefully before making a suggestion. Please also note that the Committee cannot guarantee that it will follow up on any suggestion made.  

  • Do you consider that the Act has had sufficient time to have made a difference? The Committee is unlikely to consider Acts that have only recently come into force.
  • Does the Act have a measurable outcome or policy objective, and has it fulfilled its intended purpose? When a Bill is introduced, a separate document called the Policy Memorandum explains why the Bill has been proposed and describes the objectives and outcomes it is designed to achieve. Has the Act been effective in delivering these objectives and outcomes?   
  • Has another committee of the Parliament already carried out post-legislative scrutiny of the Act? Other committees of the Parliament have always been able to undertake post-legislative scrutiny and will continue to do so. It is therefore important to avoid possible duplication; having said that, if the scrutiny was undertaken more than five years ago, we may wish to revisit the legislation.
  • Does the Act contain an in-built mechanism for post-legislative scrutiny? The High Hedges (Scotland) Act 2013, for example, was amended to allow for a review of the operation of the Act to take place within a specific timeframe. It is anticipated that the relevant subject committee would therefore undertake post-legislative scrutiny at the appropriate time. 
  • Has the Act been subject to, or could it be subject to, significant revision? The Scottish Government outlines its legislative programme on an annual basis, which may contain proposals for Bills that would alter existing Acts or perhaps even repeal an Act. MSPs and Committees can also seek to introduce bills. If the Government has said it will be reviewing or is planning to amend the legislation, we would not want to duplicate that work.
  • Would there really be merit in undertaking post-legislative scrutiny of the Act? For example, does the Act deal with a very technical or minor issue?
  • Is the Act subject to legal challenge? The Committee is not allowed to consider any matter that is sub judice; in other words, the Committee would not consider an Act that is being reviewed in the courts.