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SNP ‘twiddling its thumbs’ instead of governing

30 Oct 2016

Maurice Golden

Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of ‘twiddling her thumbs’ as new analysis shows her government has failed to introduce a single piece of legislation for half a year – in marked contrast to the SNP’s first two spells in office.

Despite it being almost 6 months since the May elections, the SNP have still not introduced a single bill for scrutiny by MSPs.

Ms Sturgeon’s failure to take a lead is exposed by the contrast between this parliament and the SNP’s previous two spells in office.

In the 2007-11 Parliament, the SNP Government had introduced three bills by now and the 2011-16 Parliament, they had introduced four bills.

The last time the SNP Government introduced a new bill to the Parliament was over a year ago.

The inertia comes despite Nicola Sturgeon saying that closing the attainment gap is her Government’s ‘number one priority’. The only sign of her flagship Child Poverty Bill is a short consultation paper which closed on 30 September.

The SNP set out its priorities last week when it published its only major piece of legislation so far – a consultation on a draft Referendum Bill.

In September’s Programme for Government the SNP set out 14 bills for introduction in this year, meaning that they will all have to be rushed into the Parliament before April.

Scottish Conservative deputy chief whip Maurice Golden said:

“We are now a tenth of the way through this Session and we have still not had any legislation presented to Parliament.

“Even by the SNP’s own standards, it is a woeful start to a new administration.

“It is a clear hallmark of a Government that has run out of ideas.

“The First Minister is twiddling her thumbs and focussing all her attention on a referendum on independence that the majority don’t want.

“The SNP desperately need to start getting on with the day job of governing Scotland rather than continuing to campaign for an unpopular and divisive second referendum.”

 

 


Almost half a year on from May’s election, the SNP has introduced no legislation to the Scottish Parliament. The Parliament has sat on 35 days so far in this session

· In their first term, the SNP Government had introduced three Bills before 1 November 2007. The Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Bill: introduced by John Swinney on 4 September 2007, the Graduate Endowment Abolition (Scotland) Bill (Ex) introduced by Fiona Hyslop on 22 October 2007 and the Public Health etc. (Scotland) Bill: introduced by Nicola Sturgeon on 25 October 2007 (The Scottish Government, Abolition of Bridge Tolls (Scotland) Bill; ibid, Public Health etc. (Scotland) Bill; ibid, Graduate Endowment Abolition (Scotland) Bill).

· In their second term, the SNP Government had introduced four Bills before 1 November 2011. The Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Bill: introduced by Nicola Sturgeon on 31 October lexapro 2011, the Agricultural Holdings (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill: introduced by Richard Lochhead on 31 October 2011, the National Library of Scotland Bill: introduced by Fiona Hyslop on 26 October 2011 and the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill: introduced by Kenny MacAskill on 16 June 2011 (The Scottish Government, Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Bill; ibid, Agricultural Holdings (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill; ibid, National Library of Scotland Bill; ibid, Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill).

· The last time a non-budget bill was introduced by the SNP Government was over a year ago, the Scottish Parliament has sat on 91 days since then. The Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Bill and the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Bill were introduced by Shona Robison and Michael Matheson respectively on 8 October 2015 (The Scottish Government, Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Bill; ibid, Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Bill).

· The last time the Parliament debated a bill was on the 22 March 2016, it has sat on 36 days since then. The Burial and Cremation Bill and the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Bill had their stage three debate and were passed by the Parliament (The Scottish Parliament, Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Bill).

· The last time the Parliament debated a member’s bill was on 1 March 2016, it has sat on 45 days since then. This was Sandra White’s Footway and Parking Bill (The Scottish Parliament, Footway Parking and Double Parking (Scotland) Bill).

· On 20 October, the SNP Government published a consultation for the draft Referendum Bill for consultation. The consultation will run until January 2017 (The Scottish Government, Consultation on a Draft Referendum Bill, 20 October 2016).

• This is despite Sturgeon saying that ‘independence was not my starting point’ and she was committed to ‘explore all options’. ‘I said in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum that, in seeking to chart a way forward for Scotland, independence was not my starting point. That remains the case. Protecting Scotland’s interests is my starting point and I will explore all options to do so.’ (SNP, Scotland’s future in the EU: speech to IPPR Scotland).

· Sturgeon said that education would be her Government’s ‘defining mission’. ‘The defining mission of this government will be education.’ (Nicola Sturgeon Priorities Speech, 25 May 2016).

· She also said that closing the attainment gap is her Government’s ‘number one priority’. ‘In our schools, raising the bar for all and closing the attainment gap – opening up opportunity for every child – is the number one priority of my government.’ (Nicola Sturgeon Speech SNP Conference 2016, 15 October 2016).

In its Programme for Government the SNP set out 14 bills that they would introduce in 2016/17

Air Passenger Duty Bill
Budget Bill
Child Poverty Bill
Contract (Third Party Rights) Bill
Domestic Abuse Bill
Expenses and Funding of Civil Litigation Bill
Forestry Bill
Gender Balance on Public Boards Bill
Housing (Amendment) Bill
Islands Bill
Limitation (Childhood Abuse) Bill
Railway Policing Bill
Social Security Bill
Wild Animals in Circuses Bill

(The Scottish Government, A Plan for Scotland, The Government’s Programme for Scotland 2016/17, 6 September 2016).