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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee 26 October 2021 [Draft]

Agenda: Interests, Decision on Taking Business in Private, European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018: Instrument Procedure and Category, Instruments subject to Made Affirmative Procedure, Instruments subject to Affirmative Procedure, Instruments subject to Negative Procedure, Instruments not subject to Parliamentary Procedure


Contents


Instruments subject to Negative Procedure

Under agenda item 6, we are considering five instruments. Issues have been raised on two of the instruments.


Council Tax Reduction (Scotland) Amendment (No 4) Regulations 2021 (SSI 2021/337)

Members will note that the instrument was laid on Thursday 23 September 2021 and came into force the following day. Section 28(2) of the Interpretation and Legislative Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 requires negative instruments to be laid at least 28 days before they come into force, not counting recess periods of more than four days. That is known as the 28-day rule.

Does the committee wish to draw the instrument to the attention of the Parliament on reporting ground (j), as it has been laid less than 28 days before coming into force?

Members indicated agreement.

However, as the regulations are intended to provide access to the council tax reduction scheme on an emergency basis for those arriving from Afghanistan, is the committee also satisfied with the reasons given for the breach of the 28-day rule?

Members indicated agreement.

The committee will note that there has previously been a long-standing disagreement with the Scottish Government on whether regulations in respect of the council tax reduction scheme give rise to a devolution issue in so far as they relate to matters that are reserved in section F1, entitled “Social security schemes”, of part 2 of schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998. The issue is engaged by the instrument in so far as it amends the unconsolidated Council Tax Reduction (Scotland) Regulations 2012 (SSI 2012/303) and the Council Tax Reduction (State Pension Credit) (Scotland) Regulations 2012 (SSI 2012/319).

In 2018, the session 5 committee agreed that, instead of continuing to highlight the disagreement with every new set of council tax reduction regulations, it would instead note its position on the devolution issue and on undertaking consolidation, as stated in its previous reports to the Parliament. The session 5 committee therefore agreed that it did not consider it necessary to repeat that view again. However, it continued to encourage the Scottish Government to undertake a consolidation of the principal regulations within a reasonable timescale, in the interests of clarity and accessibility.

Does the committee wish to note its predecessor’s position on the devolution issue and on undertaking consolidation—to the extent that that is still outstanding in respect of the pension age regulations—and restate that position for this session?

Members indicated agreement.


Official Controls (Transitional Staging Period) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Scotland) (No 2) Regulations 2021 (SSI 2021/342)

Again, the instrument breaches the 28-day rule, as it was laid on 28 September and came into force on 1 October.

In the Scottish Government’s letter to the Presiding Officer outlining its reasons for bringing the instrument into force so quickly, it wrote that this was due to a late announcement by the United Kingdom Government to revise the timetable for the introduction of all remaining border operating model checks that were due to commence on 1 October. Accordingly, the Scottish Government stated that, in order to avoid disruption to imports into Scotland, it was not able to comply with the 28-day rule.

Does the committee wish to draw the instrument to the attention of the Parliament on reporting ground (j), as it has been laid less than 28 days before coming into force?

Members indicated agreement.

Nevertheless, is the committee satisfied with the reasons given for the breach of the 28-day rule?

Members indicated agreement.

Finally, no points have been raised on the following instruments.


Town and Country Planning (Local Place Plans) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 (SSI 2021/353)

Do members have any comments on any of the instruments?

I have a comment on SSI 2021/348, which deals with something called experimental traffic regulation orders. I was a councillor for 10 years and I have never heard of those. I must admit that when I hear the words “experimental” and “orders” together, that concerns me, particularly where councils are involved.

The instrument seems to introduce a new way of bringing in traffic regulation orders—it is a truncated system. If orders are to be made permanent, a new system is being introduced. As members know, when any changes to roads are made, such as bringing in a cycle lane, they are often controversial and surely deserve the fullest scrutiny. The public should be able to comment within a decent timeframe.

Again, that is a policy matter, but it should be highlighted to the lead committee, which needs to take a good look at the issue and satisfy itself that the measures are appropriate. In this case, I think that the lead committee is the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee. Another letter from this committee is probably appropriate.

I am content with the suggestion. It is the right thing to do. Clearly, you are correct that it is a policy matter. Are members content with that suggestion?

Members indicated agreement.

Is the committee content with the instruments?

Members indicated agreement.