Page last updated at 13:12 GMT, Wednesday, 3 September 2008 14:12 UK

Scottish legislation plans in full

The Scottish Government has set out its plans for the next year in several areas, including public services, justice and the environment.

Here is a breakdown of the 15 bills announced by First Minister Alex Salmond:


Budget Bill

The legislation will seek parliamentary approval for overall annual spending plans of 30bn during 2009/10.

It will include measures to support the economy and provide increased resources to councils.

The minority government's spending plans were passed last year with Tory support, after the party won a number of concessions, including boosting police recruitment.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats were criticised for abstaining in the vote. It is doubtful they will do that again.

Council Tax Abolition Bill

Plans to replace council tax with a 3p local income tax is one of the SNP's flagship policies.

Holyrood ministers branded the present system "unfair and regressive", saying it was time for a new method to raise public cash based on ability to pay.

The Scottish Government said its plans would save the average Scottish family between 350 and 535 per year.

However, the local income tax proposals as they currently stand do not have enough parliamentary backing to go through.

The UK Government has also told Scottish ministers they cannot retain 400m a year in council tax benefits from Westminster if council tax is scrapped.

Rural Schools Bill

This legislation would introduce a presumption against the closure of rural schools, which make up 41% of Scottish primaries and 23% of secondaries.

To date, the SNP has overruled the closure of three schools, saying the trend has brought hardship on the residents and economies of rural communities.

The bill would aim to improve the consultation process on proposed closures - an emotive issue in Scotland - but critics have questioned whether forcing councils to keep open schools with only a few pupils on the roll would be a justifiable cost.

Health Bill

Amid the continuing drive to tackle Scotland's unenviable health-related smoking record, this bill would ban the open display of tobacco products in shops.

It would also bring in a tobacco sales registration scheme.

Scottish Climate Change Bill

A target would be introduced to achieve an 80% cut in emissions by 2050, along with a legal framework to ensure work towards achieving the goal was being carried out.

The Scottish ministers said this would go beyond the UK Government's 60% target and place Scotland "at the forefront" of action on climate change.

Critics pointed out the SNP had ditched a manifesto commitment for 3% annual reduction targets - and ministers acknowledged an 80% cut from Scotland would make no difference globally without a world-wide effort.

Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill

The legislation aims to reform community sentencing, while ensuring serious and violent offenders are still sent to prison and dealt with "firmly and effectively" in jail.

A Sentencing Council would also be set up with the aim of improving public confidence in sentencing decisions, while the bill will also reform criminal law and court procedures.

The Conservatives have said the SNP's non-custodial sentencing drive was creating a "soft-touch Scotland" and was simply designed to empty Scots jails - but ministers said short prison sentences had little or no effect on rehabilitating offenders.

Separately, as part of plans to tackle alcohol-fuelled violence, ministers said they wanted to ban under-21s from buying drink at off-licences and set a minimum price for alcoholic drinks in an attempt to stop cut-price booze deals.

The age restriction plan has been branded an "ill-thought-out, reflex reaction not based on evidence" by the Scottish Retail Consortium, while the whisky industry urged caution over any measures which might undermine Scotch in its home market.

Scottish Parliament and Local Government Elections Bill

In the wake of the fiasco of Scottish election night last May, in which 146,000 ballot papers were rejected, the Scottish Government has repeatedly expressed its determination to avoid a repeat.

After Canadian elections expert Ron Gould was brought in to investigate, the elections bill was brought forward to separate the dates of Scottish council and parliamentary polls.

However, the legislation cannot do what Alex Salmond really wants - to transfer the power to run Scottish elections from Westminster to Holyrood.

Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Bill

A very timely piece of legislation, given the number of serious flooding incidents which have been seen across Scotland in recent weeks and months.

The bill would create a single enforcement body to oversee the operation of reservoirs and strengthen flood risk co-ordination.

It would also incorporate European flooding legislation into Scots law.

Public Services Reform Bill

Under this bill Scottish public bodies and scrutiny bodies would both be cut by 25% by 2011.

More crucially, it would also be the vehicle to resurrect plans to incorporate Scotland's main arts bodies into a new organisation - Creative Scotland.

Plans to merge the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen had cross-party backing, but were thrown out after MSPs refused to back the financial arrangements to make it happen.

Labour accused the SNP of trying to pull the wool over MSPs' eyes over budget transfers, while ministers said the opposition moved before realising the consequences of its actions.

Children's Hearings Bill

The children's hearing system, set up to deal with youngsters in trouble or at risk, would see its 33 separate organisations brought under one national body.

Ministers said the move would provide better support to professionals and the volunteers who made the system work.

Additional Support for Learning (Amendment) Bill

Parents and children would be able to make requests to attend schools outside their catchment area under this bill.

It would also set up mediation and dispute resolution services where requests are rejected.

Marine Bill

Scotland's seas generate 2.2bn of income for the marine industry and 50,000 jobs - excluding oil and gas.

Ministers said the bill would balance those demands with the protection of the tens of thousands of marine and plant species in Scots waters.

It also aims to simplify existing marine legislation.

Legal Profession Bill

Ministers said this bill would bring in the first significant reform of the legal profession since 1980.

The legislation aims to modernise the profession while maintaining its "independence and strength".

Arbitration Bill

Will modernise arbitration law in Scotland, an issue which has been under consideration for at least 20 years.

The bill aims to make it easier for people and businesses who wish to settle disputes out of court.

Legislative Reform Bill

Aims to improve scrutiny of legislation, in tandem with the Scottish Parliament.




FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Guardian Unlimited Salmond moves to scrap council tax in Scotland - 2 hrs ago
The Scotsman SNP to scrap 'unfair' council tax - 3 hrs ago
The Courier Holyrood battle looms over local income tax - 5 hrs ago
Rye and Battle Observer SNP goes ahead with local tax plans - 8 hrs ago
Telegraph Scots end council tax, UK divide grows - 10 hrs ago


SEE ALSO
Salmond confirms council tax plan
03 Sep 08 |  Scotland
Scots legislation plans reaction
03 Sep 08 |  Scotland politics

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