As the country marked the 10th birthday of the Scottish Parliament this week, there were few voices raised to question whether the Holyrood legislature had achieved much in its first decade.
Although a BBC poll last weekend found that 50% of Scots either think the Parliament has made no difference to their lives or expressed no view (have they forgotten the smoking legislation already?), 41% think it has been a good thing and only 9% took the opposite view. There is no discernible political movement to reverse or restrict the devolution settlement and the Calman Commission's confident assertion that the Parliament is here to stay is surely correct.
It is unlikely that many lawyers come into the "no effect" camp. The Parliament's legislative output has far exceeded most expectations at the time it was founded. Scots property law has been transformed; family law has been given a much needed overhaul; pioneering measures have been passed to deal with incapable adults, and the mentally ill, to name but a few. And criminal law issues have, it seems, never been out of the headlines, with each successive administration as keen as any government to be seen to be making its mark.
True, questions have been asked about whether legislation has been well enough drafted. or properly considered at its various stages. There is room for improvement, but nothing that some changes to parliamentary procedure (Calman has some sensible recommendations) cannot help bring about.
So the Parliament has more than found its feet, and little is heard these days from those who were inclined to joke in the early days about its lack of powers. How much more power it should be given is of course the next big question.
- I'm away now for the next two weeks – usually the signal for a couple of big legal stories to start breaking. Have a good summer!