The Scottish Parliament might be in recess but we're already thinking about the issues that will be at the top of the agenda when members return in September. In the final part of the series, we look at the likely workloads of three more committees.
Equalities & Human Rights Committee
EHRC rounded off last session with the publication of its annual report, reflecting on work carried out in areas including prisoner voting, Gypsy/Travellers in Scotland and the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Bill. Persisting inequalities experienced by Gypsy/Travellers identified by the Committee may mean further scrutiny of Government efforts to tackle discrimination. Consideration of the myriad of possible effects of Brexit on human rights frameworks will form another area of work for the Committee, alongside continued scrutiny of support for asylum seekers and people with insecure immigration status in Scotland. The Committee said it will continue to assess progress on implementation of recommendations contained within its report on prejudice-based bullying and harassment in schools. There will also be a focus on the age of criminal responsibility. The call for responses from young people in relation to the Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Bill will close in October and evidence received in relation to the Committee’s first call for evidence will be published in due course. Stage 1 scrutiny is to be completed by the 16th November.
Health & Sport Committee
As the Committee leading on the scrutiny of the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Bill at Stage 1, we can expect the Health & Sport Committee’s work programme after recess to be dominated by the Bill. An online survey and a call for evidence have already been launched, with both due to close on Wednesday 1st August. Several stakeholder evidence sessions are due to take place throughout September, while the Committee will hear from the Cabinet Secretary in October. Consideration of a draft report is expected in November ahead of the Bill’s likely Stage 1 debate in December. Another Bill set to feature prominently in the Committee’s workload is the Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill. Written submissions were requested at the end of June, with a deadline set for early September. Evidence sessions have been scheduled during November while the consideration of a draft report and a Stage 1 debate are both anticipated in 2019. An expected development in the early Autumn will be the publication of the Committee’s recommendations to the Scottish Government on the health and sport budget. Several pieces of work will be carried forward from before recess, including the Committee’s work on scrutinising NHS health boards and its Preventative Agenda inquiry. Highlights from before recess include the Committee’s publication of reports on NHS governance and the impact of Brexit on health and social care, so debates might be coming up on these issues.
Social Security Committee
Though the Social Security (Scotland) Bill has safely made its way through Parliament there will be no rest for the Committee. With a new Minister to hold to account and the enormous task of setting up Scotland’s new social security system far from complete, there will be much to keep members busy. The Committee’s call for evidence for its inquiry into social security and in-work poverty closes Thursday 23rd August, and it will begin taking oral evidence at the beginning of the new session.
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