Earlier this month, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced twelve new Bills as part of the Scottish Government’s legislative programme (2018-19). Among these Bills, the new Family Law Bill is expected to make a number of changes to Scottish family law in order to provide further protection for domestic abuse victims in contact or residence cases.
The bill seeks to ensure that these cases are dealt with efficiently and effectively by the courts, prioritising the interests of children if they are involved.
On their official website, the SNP have further released an outline of the Scottish Government’s plans for the year ahead, which demonstrates a focus on nurturing the younger generation of Scots through supporting Scottish families.
In addition to continued investment into the Tackling Child Poverty Fund, the Government will increase Carer’s Allowance by 13 per cent this month. They also plan to introduce Best Start Grant payments to low-income families by Christmas, as well as a new Funeral Expense Assistance.
They further aim to strengthen children’s rights by integrating the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into law. This action coincides with another Bill which has recently been published at Holyrood.
The Smacking Ban Bill, lodged by Green MSP John Finnie, has received support from the Government and is expected to be enforced in Scotland within a year.
Adopting this ban would result in Scotland being the first part of the UK to outlaw the physical punishment of children.
Under the current law, parents in Scotland can use the defence of “justifiable assault” when punishing their children, not permitting the use of an “implement” or situations in which the child has been shaken or struck on the head. Finnie hopes that the Bill will give children “equal protection from assault”.