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A new emergency Bill around Coronavirus is before the Scottish Parliament today. Here are two amendments that would protect young people’s rights


MSPs are voting on amendments to the Coronavirus (No 2.) Scotland Bill today as the Scottish Parliament looks to turn the emergency legislation into law.

There are several amendments tabled to the legislation, but two have particular relevance to young people’s human rights:

  • an amendment that provides an increase to the Young Carer Grant,
  • an amendment to change the age for Fixed Penalty Notices for Coronavirus offences so they won’t apply to 16 or 17-year-olds.

They’re both amendments we called for in our briefing to MSPs last week, and we hope they’re both approved by the Scottish Parliament today.

A:

Bills are proposed laws that are being examined by the Scottish Parliament.

Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) discuss them to decide if they should become law.

The Scottish Parliament’s website has a clear explanation of how different kinds of Bill may become part of Scots law.

What are the two amendments about?

Increasing the Young Carer Grant

Although the Bill provides an increase in carers’ allowance, this will not be provided to young carers.

The pandemic continues to have a significant impact on young people with caring responsibilities. Many of them will be supporting a disabled adult who is shielding, who will also have been disproportionately impacted by lockdown measures.

They require direct support in their own right— to lessen the impact of the pandemic on both them and the people they’re caring for.

The amendment which increases the Young Carer Grant would give them this, so it’s one which we fully support.

Changing the age for Fixed Penalty Notices

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is clear: its protections extend to everyone under the age of 18. That means there are some areas of Scots law where the definition of a child is incompatible with the Convention― as they define 16 and 17-year-olds as adults, excluding them from protections they would otherwise have.

The (UK) Coronavirus Act 2020 and legislation that followed in Scotland has continued down this road. It treats 16 and 17-year-olds in Scotland as adults, and so excludes them from important protections provided to their peers elsewhere in the UK.

The Scottish Parliament doesn’t have the power to amend UK legislation. But an amendment to this Bill today could extend some protection to 16 and 17-year-olds.

It would mean that 16 and 17-year-olds in Scotland – like people of the same age in the rest of the UK – couldn’t be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice.

That’s a fine for breaking lockdown restrictions that comes with a criminal record.

Making this change would lessen some of the impact of UK legislation on Scotland’s 16 and 17-year-olds.

And it would go some way towards Scotland upholding the promises it agreed to under international law.


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