A United Nations committee has called on SNP ministers to “expeditiously” make changes to children’s rights legislation the Supreme Court found was outwith devolved power.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill was passed unanimously by MSPs in 2021, before being found by the UK Supreme Court to legislate outwith the powers of the Scottish Parliament.

The Bill, which can be amended and brought back to the Scottish Parliament, would incorporate the UN treaty into Scots law.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has published a report focusing on children’s rights in the UK and has urged SNP ministers to bring the legislation back to Holyrood.

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The document praised its introduction and initial passage, but has starkly recommended the Scottish Government “expeditiously bring forward the amendments necessary to enact the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill in Scotland”.

The bill has been a challenging piece of legislation for the Scottish Government, with former Scottish children and young people’s commissioner Bruce Adamson repeatedly questioning why the bill remained in parliamentary limbo two years on.

Speaking earlier this month – before he departed the post – Mr Adamson said he was “hugely concerned”, while Nick Hobbs, the acting commissioner, said: “Governments are accountable for their actions and the process of reporting to the UN provides essential scrutiny.

“The concluding observations are a powerful reminder to the Scottish and UK governments that there is a long way to go to uphold children’s rights here.

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“It’s vital that they step up and keep the promises they have made to children under the UNCRC.

“The committee has quite rightly called out the unacceptable delay to incorporating the UNCRC into Scots law.

“The Scottish Government must respond by returning the Bill to the Scottish Parliament before the summer recess. Enough time has been wasted.”

The committee heard evidence at its Geneva base from young Scots, including Daisy Stewart Henderson, a member of the Scottish Youth Parliament.

She said: “I felt that the committee’s questions to the Government truly echoed what we as children and young people had told them mattered to us.

“I implore the Government to commit to addressing all the committee’s recommendations and providing a clear action plan which is accessible to children in order to be held to account.

“In doing so they have the ability to create a better country for all young people to grow up in.”

Scotland was chided by the committee for continuing to allow those aged under 18 to marry.

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But despite the criticisms, the report praised Scotland’s ban on smacking children, which was spearheaded by former Green MSP John Finnie during his time at Holyrood.

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Willie Rennie said: “The Scottish Government have repeatedly stalled over bringing this bill back to Parliament. Now their foot-dragging has earned them a ticking-off from the United Nations.

"Scottish Liberal Democrats have repeatedly called for a revised bill containing the elements which are within the competencies of the Scottish Parliament to be fast-tracked for debate.

"It was Scottish Government blunders which saw this important legislation struck down by the Supreme Court, but rather than come up with a fix, the SNP are using this to re-run old arguments over where powers lie. They should stop playing silly games and prioritise putting Scottish children first."