At-a-glance: Scottish legislative programme 2013/14
Alex Salmond has unveiled the Scottish government's legislative programme for the coming year.
The SNP-majority government is bringing forward a total of 13 bills in 2013/14. Here are the details given to MSPs at Holyrood.
The annual Budget Bill provides Parliamentary approval for the Scottish government's spending plans.
Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Bill
The Scotland Act 2012 devolved to the Scottish Parliament the power to raise taxes on land transactions and on waste disposal to landfill. From April 2015, the UK Stamp Duty Land Tax and Landfill Tax will not apply in Scotland and new taxes will take their place. The new bill provides for the establishment of Revenue Scotland as the tax authority which will be responsible for collecting the two new devolved taxes and any other taxes which may be devolved in future.
Bankruptcy Consolidation Bill
The bill brings regulatory changes to the Debt Arrangement Scheme, Protected Trust Deeds and the rules for corporate insolvency in Scotland. It seeks to put Scotland's bankruptcy legislation in one place in order to ensure that it is readable, accessible and easier for both practitioners and those effected by the law to use.
Conclusion of Contracts etc. Bill
The bill seeks to modernise Scots law in order to promote business and economic growth. Companies will in future be able to formally conclude all contracts using email. The government hopes it will reduce the cost of signing contract documents, increase the likelihood of contracts being governed by Scots law and help boost cross-border trade in particular.
Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill
The bill seeks to make good on the 2011 SNP manifesto pledge to make it easier for communities to take over public sector assets that are not used or underused and to help communities deal more effectively with vacant and derelict property in their areas.
Scottish Welfare Fund Bill
The Scottish government introduced the Scottish Welfare Fund as an interim measure in April 2013. They said it was to "mitigate" the effects of the Westminster government's welfare cuts. The bill will put the fund, which will be £33m in 2013-14, on a "more secure statutory footing". It will establish the fund as discretionary local welfare assistance and describe how the fund will be delivered.
All right-to-buy entitlements will end for social housing tenants. The government says this will protect the existing stock of social rent homes, preventing the sale of up to 15,500 houses over the next 10 years. The bill also seeks to protect consumers by creating a new Housing Tribunal to ensure effective and prompt resolution of disputes in the private rented sector. There will be a regulatory framework for Letting Agents and licensing of mobile homes and park homes to tackle any unscrupulous behaviour by site owners.
Mental Health Bill
The bill is designed to ensure that people with a mental health disorder can access effective treatment quickly and easily.
Food Standards Scotland Bill
The bill will establish a new body to take over all of the old functions of the Food Standards Agency. Food Standards Scotland's primary concern will be consumer protection - making sure that food is safe to eat, making sure it is what it says it is and improving diet and nutrition for consumers. The government says the bill takes into account recommendations made in response to the international horsemeat food fraud scandal.
Courts Reform Bill
The reforms to the civil justice system are part of the Scottish Government's Making Justice Work Programme. The reforms seek to remove low value claims from the Court of Session and give it the status it deserves as a senior civil court. Many civil cases including personal injury cases will be redistributed to the sheriff courts and the new personal injury court. New summary sheriffs will relieve sheriffs of some of the work, freeing up sheriffs to concentrate on complex civil cases and solemn crime.
The bill seeks to reform the law on key aspects of damages for personal injury, particularly under what circumstances a claim for damages can be brought and also the limitation period within which a claim should usually be made.
The bill seeks to improve licensing in a range of areas to preserve public order and safety, reduce crime, and to advance public health. New licensing regimes will be introduced for air weapons and sexual entertainment venues. Changes will be made to existing licensing for the sale of alcohol, taxi and private hire vehicles and scrap metal dealers.
RCAHMS and Historic Scotland Merger Bill
The functions of Historic Scotland and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) will be combined.