Recent work of the Society's policy committees, including online harms; Public Health Scotland; houses in multiple occupation; short-term lets

The Society’s policy committees have had a busy month analysing and responding to proposed changes in the law. Key areas are highlighted below. For more information see The Research and Policy Section.

Online harms white paper 

The Criminal Law Committee, and Consumer, Mental Health & Disability, and Privacy Law Subcommittees responded to the UK Government’s Online Harms white paper, which sets out plans for a world leading package of measures to keep users safe online.

Welcoming the Government’s overarching objective, they believe that further action is required to address online harms but recognise that this is a complex task, given the need to balance the interests of various groups, protect freedom of expression and ensure that citizens, particularly children or other vulnerable users, can use the internet safely.

Online harm is widespread and, in the longer term, international cooperation is likely to prove more efficient than any single country’s initiative. 

Public Health Scotland

The Health & Medical, Mental Health & Disability, and Privacy Law Subcommittees responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on proposals for a new national public health body, Public Health Scotland.

They fully support the intention to embed a human rights-based approach to health and wellbeing. They hope this will expressly encompass a wide range of international human rights obligations, including those included in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In the context of the wide range of functions that Public Health Scotland will deliver, mental health should be an area of focus.

Mental health issues are strongly connected to wider public health issues. This is particularly relevant given the range of initiatives, and reviews of existing frameworks, that are currently underway. However, it is important that the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland’s existing remit and functions are not inhibited.

Houses in multiple occupation

The Licensing Law Subcommittee responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on adding new categories to the definition of houses in multiple occupation, in relation to accommodation for contract and transient workers when working away from home. HMO properties require to be licensed to ensure they are safe, of good quality and well managed.

The consultation seeks to address health and safety concerns identified in relation to accommodation in which contract and transient workers reside, to ensure that those requiring to work away from home can expect similar standards of accommodation.

The Society believes such workers should not be subject to substandard housing.

Short-term lets

See 'Fairbnb, August 2018, 39' for the Society’s response to the Scottish Government consultation.


The Author

The Policy team can be contacted on any of the matters above at Twitter: @lawscot

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