Holyrood rejects duty to have regard to right to social security

Mark Griffin, Labour MSP for Central Scotland, proposed an amendment to the Social Security (Scotland) Bill which would have created a public duty to have due regard to the right to social security.

The proposed due regard duty would require Scottish Ministers and public authorities to pay attention to the right to social security as outlined in international human rights law when implementing the new devolved social security powers. It would also mean that the right to social security has to be considered when courts and tribunals make decisions around social security.

The Scottish Human Rights Commission believes this would ensure that the principles of the Bill, which recognise social security as a human right, are realised in practice.

However the Social Security Committee of the Scottish Parliament rejected the proposed duty.

Judith Robertson, Chair of the Commission said:

“It is disappointing that parliamentarians and the Scottish Government have not taken the opportunity to strengthen accountability in relation to the human right to social security in this important piece of legislation.

While the Commission welcomes progress made so far, for example the creation of the Scottish Commission on Social Security which must have regard to human rights, an accountability gap still exists.

The amendment proposed by Mark Griffin MSP would have placed a duty on Ministers to have ‘due regard’ to the international human right to social security when taking decisions on social security.  Without it, there is no legal mechanism in the Bill for holding Ministers to account on the delivery of the right to social security.

While we regret that parliamentarians and the Scottish Government have not taken the opportunity to significantly improve this legislation in human rights terms, we look forward to serious consideration being given to the incorporation of international human rights in Scots law going forward.”

Read the Scottish Human Rights Commission briefing on the amendment here: http://www.scottishhumanrights.com/news/commission-calls-for-due-regard-duty-to-advance-right-to-social-security/

Read the official report of the Committee session here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11360



Image credit: Chris Potter, Flickr