Public policy highlights
Recent work of the Society's policy committees, including Immigration Bill; pensions dashboards; physical punishment of children; Competition & Markets Authority
The Society’s policy committees have had a busy month analysing and responding to proposed changes in the law. Key areas are highlighted below. For more information see: www.lawscot.org.uk/research-and-policy
The Immigration & Asylum Committee issued a briefing on the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill ahead of its second reading in the House of Commons on 16 January.
The bill repeals provisions of retained EU law relating to free movement, such as the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 and
s 7 of the Immigration Act 1988. Given the significant impact of this legislation on EU nationals living in the UK, the Society urges the UK Government to ensure there is widespread publicity in advance of commencement so all who will be affected are aware of its effect. This should include publicity in a range of European languages.
The Pensions Law, Consumer Law and Privacy Law Committees submitted a joint response to the Department for Work & Pensions’ consultation on the creation of pensions dashboards.
They support the objective of creating a platform which would allow individuals to access their pension information in a single location. This could be an excellent way to encourage individuals to engage with pension planning and provide them with an overview of their likely financial situation in retirement.
However, the committees are concerned about practical aspects of implementation. One of the most important objectives is to ensure that people can understand and correctly interpret the information. They are also concerned that the scheme could be costly and this would be borne by the public purse. They suggest there should be a thorough cost-benefit analysis and impact assessment of the proposal.
The Criminal Law Committee responded to the Scottish Parliament Equalities & Human Rights Committee’s call for views on the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill.
The public has a right to know the limitations of the criminal law and the committee welcomes clarification of the law in this area. As the law currently stands, it is for the accused to establish the defence of reasonable chastisement, each case being considered on its facts and circumstances.
This bill would bring Scots law into line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on this issue, and Scotland would join several other countries which fully protect children from physical punishment.
CMA annual plan
The Competition Law and Consumer Law Committees submitted a joint response to the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) consultation on its draft annual plan for 2019-20.
Overall, the committees welcome the draft priorities set out and support the themes which will be used to select and conduct casework. However, they are concerned by the anticipated impact on the CMA if the UK leaves the EU without an agreement. The implication that the CMA might not have enough resources to continue effective enforcement action against cartels and other important tasks such as market investigations is deeply concerning and potentially sends conflicting messages. Without sustained enforcement, the UK will be unable to position itself as global leader in this area.
The Policy team can be contacted on any of the matters above at firstname.lastname@example.org