On Wednesday 10 February 2021 the Education and Skills committee at the Scottish Parliament will start to consider proposed amendments to the Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill.
In total, 107 amendments have so far been proposed. Further amendments could be proposed both during the current Stage 2 of the Scottish legislative process and also during the final third stage. Amendments made during Stage 2 could even be overturned by amendments at Stage 3. As is often the case, Stage 2 is being undertaken at committee level rather than by the Scottish Parliament sitting as a whole in chamber. Assuming that the bill proceeds to Stage 3, the parliament as a whole would consider and vote on any further proposed amendments before debating and deciding whether to pass the bill.
The agenda for the committee’s 10 February 2021 meeting includes the words “Day 1” in the context of its Stage 2 consideration of this bill. This suggests that the committee might stagger its consideration of the proposed amendments over two, or perhaps more, meetings.
The 107 proposed amendments to date span a wide range of topics, including on the most significant aspects of the bill such as the proposed waiver and payment amounts. The bill which may emerge from Stage 2 may be fundamentally different from the bill as introduced. The bill which may emerge from Stage 3 to become an Act of the Scottish Parliament upon the grant of Royal Assent may be fundamentally different from the bill which enters Stage 3. In short, considerable uncertainty remains on the terms of any final legislation.
There is perhaps even an element of uncertainty on whether there will be sufficient time for the bill, in whatever form, to pass through all three legislative stages before the Scottish Parliament goes into recess on 25 March 2021 ahead of an election which remains set for 6 May 2021.
We will post further commentary on this blog as and when there is clarity on how long the current Stage 2 is likely to last and what happens during it.