Children’s rights bill should be returned to Holyrood ‘at earliest opportunity’

Legislation incorporating children’s rights into Scots law must be brought back before Holyrood urgently, opposition parties have insisted.

Conservatives and Liberal Democrats made the plea after the UK Supreme Court ruled that a bill aimed at achieving this was outside of the Scottish Parliament’s competence.

They made the plea as Scottish Secretary Alister Jack (pictured) said that the UK Government “stands ready to engage constructively” with Scottish ministers to “ensure relevant issues that may arise are addressed at the earliest possible stage”.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill was passed unanimously by MSPs earlier this year – but in a blow to the Scottish Government the Supreme Court ruled that it “breaches the limitations imposed on the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament”.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said at the time that the SNP administration remained “absolutely committed” to incorporating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into Scots law “to the maximum extent possible”.

In a written statement, Mr Jack made clear: “It is for the Scottish Government to consider next steps with the Scottish Parliament.”

Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman Donald Cameron said that revised legislation on incorporating children’s rights “needs to be passed as quickly as possible”.

The Tory MSP stated: “The onus is on the SNP to lay out a firm timescale to bring this bill back to the Scottish Parliament urgently.”

He also insisted that Scottish Government must “guarantee they will engage fully with the UK Government to ensure the necessary changes will be made to pass this crucial bill”.

Meanwhile Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said he wanted a revised version of the Bill to be “back in front of the Scottish Parliament at the next available opportunity”.

Such a move, he insisted, would “offer new hope to the young people of Scotland”.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “Scotland would be a better place for young people if the nationalist government focused on improving education and tackling the climate emergency, not picking legal battles in order to stir up trouble.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2021, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Stefan Rousseau / PA.