UNCRC Incorporation Bill passes unanimously at Stage 1
Date: 28th January 2021
On 19th January, MSPs unanimously agreed to the general principles of the Bill following the Stage 1 debate. Together sent a Stage 1 briefing to MSPs prior to the debate, supported by nearly 50 members.
Together’s briefing encouraged MSPs to pass the Bill at Stage 1. It noted the Bill provides a strong foundation for putting children’s human rights at the heart of decision making and enabling them to assert their rights.
The briefing also detailed where the Bill should be strengthened, drawing on evidence from the Equalities and Human Rights Committee’s Stage 1 Report. It called for amendments on:
- Ensuring a commencement date within six months of Royal Assent.
- Providing consistency in the protection of children’s human rights across services.
- Promoting international human rights guidance and norms across decision-making.
- Supporting children’s access to justice and promoting the rights of children with protected characteristics or in situations of vulnerability.
- Supporting children’s participation and the preparation of child-friendly versions of reports.
The Deputy First Minister set out Scottish Government’s intended approach during the debate, building upon his earlier report. Scottish Government intends to bring forward amendments to:
- Ensure sources which emanate from the UNCRC inform how the new law is applied.
- Make clear that those undertaking functions pursuant to contracts or other arrangements with public authorities should also be subject to the requirement not to act incompatibly with the UNCRC requirements.
- Ensure children have a right to an “effective” remedy, and that their views are taken into account in determining this.
- Strengthen language around the Children’s Rights Scheme and specify certain key issues that should be included – including access to child-friendly complaints processes.
- Strengthen the reporting duties on listed authorities, so that they must also report on what they are planning to do over the next three years, in addition to what they have already done or are doing.
- Ensure child-friendly versions of certain Scottish Government statements.
The Deputy First Minister said he would consider the issue of putting the commencement date on the face of the Bill ahead of Stage 2. He noted the importance of balancing the current demands on public bodies in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, with the ambition to deliver legal protection for children’s rights as soon as possible.