The timetable for parliamentary scrutiny of the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill has been announced by Holyrood’s Justice Committee. The announcement comes as the first of almost 2,000 written submissions made to the Committee are published, and after the First Minister committed to listen to concerns in her Programme for Government Statement.
The Committee intends to start hearing oral evidence about the Bill from witnesses in late October, with a view to completing its Stage 1 report by 18 December 2020 – the deadline set by the Parliamentary Bureau.
The new Committee Convener Professor Adam Tomkins MSP says it is vital that sufficient time is allowed for scrutiny.
Justice Committee Convener, Professor Tomkins, said:
“The number of submissions we have received is unprecedented and reflects that this Bill is contentious. Hundreds of individuals and organisations have written to us setting out their views on the offences that this Bill would both create and abolish.
“Given the importance of this legislation – and the strength of feeling it is generating – it is vital that sufficient time is allowed for scrutiny.
“Our Committee has already agreed that it will revisit the deadline of 18 December should it become necessary.”
Scrutiny of the Hate Crime Bill will begin once the Committee has concluded its consideration of the Defamation and Malicious Publications (Scotland) Bill, scrutiny of which continued this week.
The Committee has agreed it will handle the high volume of submissions it has received as follows. All submissions will be available on this webpage.
- Written submissions from organisations will be published first on 4 September.
- Thereafter, written submissions from individuals will be published in batches once processed by the clerks in accordance with the Parliament’s policy on the treatment of written evidence – the policy includes the treatment of requests for anonymity and submissions containing potentially abusive or defamatory content.
- The Committee will then consider who will be invited to give oral evidence. Oral evidence sessions will begin in late October, following the Committee’s completion of the Defamation and Malicious Publications (Scotland) Bill.
- The Hate Crime and Public Order Bill follows a review of hate crime legislation by Lord Bracadale. It is expected that Lord Bracadale will be invited to give oral evidence as one of the initial witnesses.
- The Committee’s call for views was made in May 2020, and can be viewed here.
Find more information on the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill here:
Justice Committee’s wider work programme for 2020/21
The Committee is considering a number of Bills in the following order
The Committee will also prioritise ongoing scrutiny of the impact of Covid-19 on the justice system and policing; issues relating to Brexit and justice; and the Scottish Government’s forthcoming draft Budget 2021/22.
Greg Black: 07920 296 862
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