We react to the Smith commission report

November 27, 2014

We welcome the publication of the Smith Commission Report today. The Commission has recommended devolution of a range of responsibilities for the Scottish Parliament which will make the Parliament more accountable to the people of Scotland. We also acknowledge, however, that many people feel the commission report does not go far enough.

Humanist Society Scotland will work productively within the agreed constitutional framework with any government who shares our values of equality and democracy.

We welcome the main principle of the report, that the Scottish Parliament should be a permanent fixture of the UK constitutional settlement, and we hope that the thread of human rights which runs through the founding legislation of the Scottish Parliament will continue to encourage MSPs to support social progress. We hope that the key role of human rights in Scotland’s legislature will continue, and will support the development of means to this end.

One of the main interests for HSS, is the fact that the 2010 Equality Act will remain reserved to the UK Parliament in Westminster.

The Equality Act has possible implications for the pension entitlements of LGBTI people, and may have an impact on the provision of Civil Partnerships for mixed-sex couples. HSS will continue to monitor these areas in partnership with other interested campaign organisations.

Another of the key areas for the Equality Act is in education. The 2010 Equality Act includes specific exclusions for religious organisations, the effect of this is to make it permissible for faith schools to select their pupils and staff on the basis of their religious beliefs (or lack thereof).

Responding to this specific issue, HSS Chief Executive, Douglas McLellan said:
”We welcome this commitment to devolve a range of responsibilities to the Scottish Parliament, and the pledge to ensure the permanency of the Scottish Parliament. Respect for human rights is a key part of the foundation of the Scottish Parliament, and we are disappointed that the retention of the 2010 Equality Act represents a missed opportunity to end the outrageous practice of employment discrimination in faith schools.”

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