Since the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, 260 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.
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 can mean examining a specific part of an Act rather than examining the legislation as a whole.
We invited views on which Act or Acts should be examined by the Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee.
The closing date for suggestions was midday on Friday 28 July 2017 and all suggestions will now be considered by the Committee. Please note that the Committee cannot guarantee that it will follow up on any suggestion made.
To make sure that the suggestions were as informed as possible, the Committee agreed a checklist for anyone wishing to contribute.
- 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.