"Post-legislative scrutiny" (PLS) is a term for an inquiry which looks back at an act of the Scottish Parliament, or part of an act, to see if it is working as planned. The inquiry is usually carried out by a committee.
Sometimes a committee will look at more than one act at once, although this is rare. A committee might also look at the secondary legislation that is part of the act to check that it’s working properly.
Post-legislative scrutiny has been conducted by various committees in previous sessions. In session 6, the Conveners Group agreed that a greater encouragement of PLS should be a strategic priority.
Examples of post-legislative scrutiny in the Scottish Parliament
A list of some examples of post-legislative scrutiny in the Scottish Parliament:
- the Finance and Public Administration has conducted a PLS inquiry into the Financial Memorandum for the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. The committee sent a letter to the then Deputy First Minister in October 2022 and the government responded in December 2022.
- the Criminal Justice Committee conducted a short PLS inquiry into the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018. The report on the inquiry into the domestic abuse act has now been published.
- the Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee has carried out an inquiry into the Community Empowerment Act 2015 and matters relating to community planning
- the Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee has carried out an inquiry into the Community Empowerment Act 2015 and matters relating to allotments
- the COVID-19 Recovery Committee's scrutiny of the Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) (Scotland) Bill included consideration of the emergency legislation introduced at the outset of the pandemic. The Scottish Government was given time-limited emergency powers to respond to Covid-19 in various Acts of the Scottish and UK parliaments. The Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) (Scotland) Bill was introduced to make permanent some of the time-limited powers that were contained in the emergency legislation and extend others for a further period. The Committee reviewed which provisions contained in the relevant Acts were still required and those which should no longer be required without further parliamentary approval in the event of any future threats.
- in relation to the Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill, the Education, Children and Young People Committee has been considering regular written updates from the Scottish Government on the operation of the redress scheme
- The Economy and Fair Work Committee launched a post-legislative scrutiny inquiry into the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014. The Act introduced duties on public bodies to consider how procurement could be used to improve the wellbeing of their local areas. That included looking at the impact on the economic, social and environmental health of the area. The Committee wanted to know what the experience of bidding is like since the Act, particularly for those it sought to open up the process to. The committee was also interested to know what the administrative burden for bidders is.
- The Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee has started work on a PLS inquiry into the Lobbying (Scotland) Act 2016. A partial evaluation of the lobbying act has been produced by SPICe research services to inform MSPs.
- a PLS review of the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 by the Justice Committee led to major changes in the governance by the Scottish Police Authority. A further independent review by Dame Elish Angiolini led to a commitment from the Scottish Government to bring forward legislation to change the police-complaints system.
- the High Hedges (Scotland) Act 2013 contained a requirement to review how it was operating in practice within a specific time period. The PLS inquiry was carried out by the Local Government and Communities Committee. Although some tightening up of practice occurred, no substantive changes to the law were made.
- the Public Audit and Post-Legislative Scrutiny Committee conducted a PLS inquiry into the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010. Because of this, some changes were introduced through secondary legislation. The government also agreed to review the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and how it works in Scotland.
- the Public Audit and Post-Legislative Scrutiny Committee also conducted a PLS inquiry into the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.
- in 2013, the Justice Committee carried out an inquiry into the effectiveness of the Title Conditions (Scotland) Act 2003. This led to changes in the law and how it was implemented. One impact of the work was a recommendation for the Scottish Law Commission to look in detail at the operation of a particularly challenging section of the act.
- a short review of the implementation of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 by the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee.
- a PLS review of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 by the Equalities Committee.