The Scottish Government has been accused of aiming to roll out contentious climate policies “by the back door” after Lorna Slater admitted dodging scrutiny allows her administration to be “nimble”.

The Greens co-leader, also the Scottish Government’s Circular Economy Minister, has tabled plans for a crucial piece of legislation to help Scotland’s fight against the climate crisis.

Ms Slater’s circular economy bill is a high-level piece of legislation, an “enabling bill” that will develop legal targets for Scottish ministers to achieve zero waste ambitions by significantly increasing reuse and recycling rates.

The legislation will set up powers to introduce restrictions on the disposal of unsold consumer goods, increase penalties for littering from vehicles and a power to set a minimum charge and restrictions for certain single-use items.

Ms Slater is opting to use secondary legislation, a quicker method, to bring forward those specific measures sometime in the future.

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Secondary legislation has also been tabled by the Scottish Government for the specifics of its National Care Service legislation.

But opposition MSPs have criticised the strategy because secondary legislation means less time for Holyrood to scrutinise the proposals which crucially cannot be amended.

Ms Slater has told Holyrood’s Economy Committee that the detail of the Circular Economy Bill “will be presented through that secondary legislation and will undergo all that parliamentary scrutiny”.

She added: “With any number of single-use items – cups, vapes, plastic bags – one can imagine that requiring primary legislation for each of those individual products would not only be burdensome on parliamentary time but would mean that we wouldn’t be able to react as quickly.

“That would take a great deal of time and that would mean that potential problem, the pollution, would be lasting for many years as primary legislation is brought.

“Secondary legislation not only allows parliament to be nimble in reacting to new products that come online but it allows a level of scrutiny that committees and members of parliament deem appropriate.”

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But Scottish Labour MSP Daniel Johnson accused Ms Slater of confusing the roles of government and parliament.

He has warned that “it’s for parliament to decide whether it’s going to have sufficient level of power” to scrutinise legislation, and not decided by the Scottish Government.

Mr Johnson said: “That might well allow the government to be more nimble, the Scottish Government. But it doesn’t necessarily enable the parliament to be more nimble because parliament, in terms of definition of that nimbleness, has less ability to scrutinise.

“Indeed, part of the reason that it takes more time for primary legislation is because we have more ability and a greater length of time to look at the detail, which secondary legislation doesn’t have.”

He added: “The SNP has a long track record of trying to dodge scrutiny and centralise power, and now the Greens are helping them along the way.

“The SNP-Green Government seems to be using secondary legislation to take decisions out of MSPs hands and block potential changes – but the consequences have been dire.

“From the deposit return scheme fiasco to their bungled National Care Service, it’s clear this SNP-Green Government’s policies need more scrutiny, and primary legislation can deliver that.”

Ms Slate said that “if one was to take all these pieces through primary legislation…it wouldn’t be proportionate to what’s being brought in”.

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She added: “The level of scrutiny needs to be appropriate to the level of change that is being brought.” Scottish Conservative shadow finance and local government secretary, Liz Smith, said: “Given how shambolically Lorna Slater handled the deposit return scheme, perhaps it is unsurprising the Green minister is keen to avoid scrutiny on future policies.

“That is typical of the SNP-Green Government who all too often duck facing tough questions on what they are proposing.

“If these policies are to benefit the public and businesses, Lorna Slater should rule out trying to bring them in by the back door.”

Scottish LibDems climate emergency spokesperson Liam McArthur, said: "Removing many single use plastics from circulation is a sensible goal and allowing for additions to be made to the list in future is not inherently a bad thing.

"However, the issue here is that the Scottish government has torched its reputation for competent and effective governance by ignoring warnings and pressing ahead with expensive screw ups like Circularity Scotland or the ill-conceived care service reforms.”

He added: "Given this track record, I suspect businesses, stakeholders and the average Scot on the street will be sceptical about granting Lorna Slater the power to make decisions about what they can or cannot buy and sell without proper parliamentary scrutiny.

"Even competent and well thought-through legislation benefits from a robust process of scrutiny.

“If the Scottish Government is not yet ready to present a comprehensive initial list of the products it wants to remove from sale, it should put the legislation on hold until it does."