Some are inevitable, like a Budget Bill and the enabling bill for running the new Forth Crossing; some were knock-ons from the Scotland Act; and some were known, such as same sex marriage and guaranteeing more nursery and child care hours; others flow from consultations in areas such as law reform.
But all are overshadowed by the big beast sitting at the other end of the settee – the Referendum Bill, which will define Scottish politics for the next two years.
When the First Minister confirmed that the top of his list of legislative proposals was the Referendum Bill, we might have expected an explosion of unrestrained cheering from the SNP benches at Holyrood this afternoon, but the response was actually fairly restrained.
Mr Salmond then framed all the other Bills by way of contrast with what was being done at Westminster and the failings there. Here was the Scottish Parliament working well, he suggested, but imagine what more could be done with control of all the economic levers.
He claimed no recession had ever been overcome without capital investment, which had been massively cut by the Westminster coalition.
A Bill reforming public procurement so that this huge area of Government spending produces tangible benefits in local communities is clearly a response to the controversy over foreign suppliers winning the contracts to supply the steel for the new Forth Crossing, and Labour did not miss the chance to point this out.
The problem for Labour is that, for them, there was very little to really object to, nor for Nationalists to greatly warm to.
Reforming bankruptcy law or legislating for landfill tax does not send the pulse racing, but perhaps the thinking is that we all need all our energies for the bigger decision about Scotland’s future as a nation.
The Bill will make provision for an independence referendum to be held in autumn 2014 to allow the people of Scotland to vote on the way Scotland is governed. The referendum will allow the people to decide whether Scotland should be an independent country, a choice the people have never been offered before. The Bill will include provisions for the date of the referendum, the franchise and the procedures to be followed. It will provide for oversight arrangements that ensure the referendum is run to the highest international standards. The Electoral Commission and Electoral Management Board will be fully involved in these arrangements.
The annual Budget Bill provides Parliamentary approval for the Scottish Government’s spending plans, allowing the allocation of resources to the Government’s strategic objectives and supporting progress towards its Purpose of creating a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth.
The Bill will establish a national legislative framework for sustainable public procurement that supports Scotland’s economic growth by delivering community benefits, supporting innovation, considering environmental requirements and promoting public procurement processes and systems which are transparent, streamlined, standardised, proportionate, fair and business-friendly.
The Bill will modernise bankruptcy law for the 21st century. It will ensure access to fair and just processes of debt relief and debt management for the people of Scotland, which takes account of the rights and interests of those involved. It will ensure Scottish debt solutions are fair to both the indebted individual and creditor, returning as much as possible to creditors.
Businesses benefit from regulation which is transparent, consistent, accountable, proportionate, and targeted only at cases where action is needed. The Bill will therefore take steps to improve the way regulations are applied in practice across Scotland, providing for example national regulation systems and standards. The Bill will also include specific measures to further reform planning and deliver a simpler and more effective legislative framework for environmental regulation and enforcement.
Land and Buildings Transaction Tax
The Bill will set out how the proposed replacement tax for Stamp Duty Land Tax will operate under a distinctly Scottish based approach and will better embed provision in Scots Law and practices.
The Bill will put in place a replacement for Landfill Tax in Scotland, establishing the administration, charges and rules governing a uniquely Scottish Landfill Tax.
Adult Health & Social Care Integration
The Bill will reform planning and provision of adult health and social care services, establishing effective integration between partners in order to deliver improved, nationally agreed outcomes for services. It will establish joint accountability by Health Boards and Councils for delivery of outcomes, integration of budgets, and improved commissioning and planning of services.
Children and Young People
The Bill will improve the outcomes for all children and young people in Scotland, in particular the most vulnerable, by putting in place a coherent statutory framework for planning and delivery of services provided to children and young people. It will also increase transparency, scrutiny and accountability around the public sector’s approach to the practical realisation of children’s rights, and it will make provision to deliver the commitment to a minimum of 600 hours free early learning and childcare provision.
Post-16 Education Reform
The Bill will provide an underpinning legal basis for some aspects of the Scottish Government’s ambitious programme of post-16 learning reform. It will support the development of a system that is better aligned to meet the needs of learners and employers, and therefore help drive jobs and growth. It will address key issues such as college and university structure and provision, college regionalisation and widening access.
Forth Estuary Transport Authority
The Bill will enable the Scottish Government to adopt the most cost-effective and coordinated approach to the management and maintenance of the Forth Road Bridge and the new Forth Crossing.
Marriage and Civil Partnership
The Bill will allow same sex couples to marry, and will also allow civil partnerships to be registered through a religious ceremony. It will ensure that no religious bodies and celebrants have to take part in same-sex ceremonies, unless they wish to do so. Ministers are also deeply committed to freedom of speech and religion, and the concerns of those who do not favour same sex marriage require to be properly addressed. The Scottish Government will consult stakeholders on any provisions that are required, in either statute or guidance, to protect these important principles and address specific concerns that have been expressed.
Victims and Witnesses
The Bill will improve the support available for victims and witnesses, putting victims’ interests at the heart of improvements to the justice system and ensuring that witnesses are able to fulfil their public duty effectively. The Bill will include provision to widen access to special measures (such as the use of CCTV links) to protect vulnerable witnesses and ensure that offenders contribute to the cost of supporting victims.
The Bill will establish a new, simplified statutory framework for tribunals which determine matters falling within devolved competence. It will bring together those existing tribunals which currently operate in a disparate manner and establish a new system for appeals. This will create a more user-focused and coherent tribunal system in Scotland.
The Bill will reform and modernise the system for investigation and prosecution of crime in Scotland. It follows from the thorough, expert reviews of Lord Carloway in relation to criminal procedure generally, and Sheriff Principal Bowen in relation to sheriff and jury procedure. It will ensure Scotland is at the forefront of human rights practice in relation to suspects and accused persons, while at the same time promoting the rights of victims by removing outdated rules on sufficiency of evidence.