Same-Sex Marriages, Wind Farms and Nursery Places on MSPs' List for New Parliament
Byline: Andrew Picken
THE referendum and same-sex marriage will be among the showpiece Bills unveiled by Alex Salmond when Holyrood returns from its summer break next week.
Keen to deflect claims that the Scottish Government is only concerned with independence, a total of 15 new pieces of legislation will be revealed on Tuesday.
But at the heart of the programme will be the Referendum Bill - expected to be published in full by February next year.
Other aspects of the legislative plan will see an increase in free nursery care, a shake-up of the justice system and moves to make it simpler to fight wind farm decisions in the courts.
A Bill to make it easier for Scots firms to bid for public contracts is also likely to appear in the wake of the public outcry over the number of foreign companies winning contracts for the new Forth Road Bridge.
Mr Salmond will set out his legislative programme on Tuesday but critics yesterday claimed the SNP Government was doing little to address the country's main problems, including a sluggish economy.
Paul Martin, Scottish Labour's business manager, said: 'This Government has spent its time in office obsessing about a referendum instead of dealing with the problems ordinary families are facing every day.
'The forthcoming legislative programme is an opportunity for Alex Salmond to use his majority to bring about real change that will improve people's lives but I have little confidence that we will see anything more than a few half-baked Bills and more grandstanding about the constitution.' The legislation guaranteed to be announced this week includes the annual budget Bill, same-sex marriage, the referendum, the Children's Bill and public procurement. Bills which are expected to appear include plans to integrate adult health and social care services, as well as plans to improve the rights of victims and witnesses.
A move to end corroboration - the requirement for two pieces of evidence to secure a prosecution - is also likely to feature in a Bill aimed at revamping the justice system.
The Children's Bill will see a 2007 SNP manifesto commitment finally fulfilled, with the increase of free nursery care for three and four-year-olds rising from 475 to 600 hours per year. The change will be announced this week but is not timed to come into effect until the start of the 2014 school year - only two months before voters go to the polls for the referendum. …