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22 September 2016

Back to business

Back to business

After a political summer like no other this month has seen the return of "normal" politics as the Scottish government published their plans for the coming year.

Session five of the Scottish parliament began for real this month with the publication of the programme for government, the annual statement of legislative plans for the coming year. 14 bills are planned this year alongside a draft bill on a possible further independence referendum.

The scope and variety of these bills reflect the ever growing powers of Holyrood, many of which will come into force during this session. Four of the planned bills this year relate specifically to new powers in areas of air taxation, railway policing, gender balance on public boards, and social security. Other significant bills include those relating to child poverty and domestic abuse, as well as a bill to devolve powers to Scotland's islands. Further plans around income and council tax rates and educational reform are also likely to be announced during this year. In addition, it's likely the government's position on criminalising demand for sexual services and revised proposals on the named person in light of the defeat at the Supreme Court will become clear. At the moment on the named person the Scottish government are reviewing the plans with the likelihood of fresh legislation needed in 2017.

There is certainly plenty for the Scottish government to be getting on with, both in legislation and policy terms, and of course this is all playing out in the context of Brexit and Scotland's own constitutional future. It's clear that however these wider issues land, right now there is both an opportunity and challenge of using these new powers well, and for us as Christians of engagement with them.

So what will our approach be as the Alliance over the coming months? And what will be asking of our members and supporters?

Building on both our What Kind of Nation? and What Kind of Holyrood? work we'll be seeking to bring a Christian voice to a number of these bills that fit within the framework of economy, family, community and environment. We believe the Bible lays the foundation of a good society by promoting a just and fair economy, a strong family, strong communities (of which the Church is the model), and a care for the environment that God has given us. Together these help us build a society that is more reflective of God's values and good for everyone who is part of it.

Each month we'll be updating you on particular bills and consultations, sharing our thoughts on whether they help or hinder these aims, and inviting you to engage by responding to these consultations yourself or contacting your MSPs about the issues they raise. We hope that by doing that you'll not only feel represented but have the chance to practically be informed and engage, ensuring that locally and nationally a Christian voice is heard in Holyrood.