Amended UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Bill Passed
A Bill to provide greater protection of children’s rights has been passed by the Scottish Parliament for a second time.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) Bill requires Scotland’s public authorities to protect children’s human rights in their decision-making when delivering functions conferred by Acts of the Scottish Parliament. It also allows for children, young people and their representatives to use the courts to enforce their rights.
Several sections of the original Bill, which was passed unanimously in 2021, were ruled by the Supreme Court to be outwith the Scottish Parliament’s legislative competence, following referral by the UK Government. MSPs have now backed an amended bill with reduced scope.
The amended Bill means that public authorities will be required to comply with the UNCRC requirements only when delivering devolved functions conferred by or under Acts of the Scottish Parliament or under common law powers.
The UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill was first passed by the Scottish Parliament unanimously on 16 March 2021.
Certain provisions in the Bill were subsequently referred to the Supreme Court by the UK Government, preventing it from receiving Royal Assent. The Supreme Court judged in October 2021 that section 6 (relating to the compatibility duty) and sections 19, 20 and 21 (relating to the interpretative obligation, strike down power and incompatibility declarator power) were outwith legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament. This was an area of the devolution settlement that had not been previously tested in the courts.