August 2014

Women on Board: Quality through Diversity, Scottish Government Consultation on the Introduction of Gender Quotas on Public Boards

The Society responded to the Scottish Government consultation which is considering introducing gender quotas on public boards.  In its response the Society’s Equality committee welcomed the proposals which seek to promote and ensure equality balance, but highlighted that it is important that all appointments are made on merit and not purely to pay ‘lip service’ to quotas and to that end a transparent application process be introduced to ensure confidence from both the public and other members of the board.  The Committee also suggested that any percentage level for gender diversity quotas should be truly reflective of the gender balance in Scotland and that that percentage level should be regularly reviewed to ensure it continues to fairly represent the gender split. 

The full response can be found here

Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (DRIP)

The Society’s Privacy Law Committee wrote to Scottish MPs and Peers on the Bill that was introduced and passed under emergency legislation procedure in just four days.  The Bill is aimed at companies that provide telephone and internet connections, and outlines the legal obligations they will have to retain data on their customers, such as calls made, to whom and at what time. It does not include the content of such communications.  The committee raised a number of concerns including the speed at which it was passed and that it was not subjected to the usual level of scrutiny that each parliamentary stage usually requires, and that there appeared to be no consultation with Scottish Government or Scottish stakeholders on the implications of DRIP for Scotland.  It also questioned the need for the emergency legislative procedure, considering the CJEU judgment that prompted the legislation was passed in April of this year. 

The full letter can be read here 

Moving Forward with LBTT - Subordinate legislation

The Tax Law Committee responded to the Scottish Government consultation proposing subordinate legislation for Land and Buildings Transaction Tax.  The regulations propose making businesses operating under a licence to occupy subject to LBTT, where they were not previously liable to Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT).  The committee felt that some of the meaning of some of the wording used in the regulations, such as 'retail shop' was unclear, and have asked for further clarification from the Government on the matter.  Without further clarification, professional advisors will be unable to        advise clients on the implications of the tax on their businesses.

The full response can be found on our website

Underground Drilling Access - a consultation

This UK Government consultation makes proposals to reform the procedure for gaining underground access to oil or gas deposits and geothermal energy, and provides a compensation framework for landowners. While not commenting on the policy issue of whether or not fracking should be undertaken in the UK, in its response the Society concentrated its comments on highlighting the fact that the correct framework must be put in place to support industry and local communities as well as safeguarding the environment and public safety.  The Society supports the proposal to make a community payment rather than an individual landowner payment, but it is currently unclear how payments are going to be made and thereafter distributed to the community.

The Society also suggested consideration be given to whether or not a single lump payment is always the appropriate option or whether compensation payments should be tiered and linked to different levels of work, such as exploration or testing, development and, finally, production.  If tiered, then further consideration would have to be given to whether a backstop cap would be introduced so as not to hinder industry with an onerous fee scale.

The full response can be found on the Society's website