A trio of members’ bills have been introduced in the Scottish Parliament in the past month, respectively covering livestock worrying by dogs, licensing of travelling funfairs, and a charter for local government.

The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill, introduced by Emma Harper, SNP member for the South of Scotland, contains additional powers to tackle harm to farm animals caused by dogs. Where a dog chases, attacks or kills a farmed animal it:

  • increases the maximum penalty to a fine of £5,000 or imprisonment for six months;
  • allows the courts to ban a convicted person from owning a dog or allowing their dog to go on agricultural land;
  • gives the police greater powers to investigate and enforce livestock worrying offence, including going onto land to identify a dog, seize it and collect evidence from it;
  • allows other organisations to be given similar powers;
  • extends the “livestock worrying” offence to cover additional types of farmed animal.

Richard Lyle’s Travelling Funfairs (Licensing) (Scotland) Bill would change the system for operators of travelling funfairs applying for licences in Scotland. Mr Lyle, SNP member for Uddingston and Bellshill, believes that the current law and practices, under which each local council can decide what to charge and whether a licence should be granted, with varying times to consider applications, threaten the survival of showpeople.

Under the bill a local council must grant the licence within 21 days as long as an operator meets certain application requirements. A licence may be refused only for one of the reasons given in the bill, and if a local council does not come to a decision within 21 days, the licence will be automatically granted. Each application will cost a standard £50, cheaper than what is currently charged in most local council areas.

The bill also provides procedures for adding certain conditions to licences; for appeals against decisions by a local council; and powers to local councils to search and inspect travelling funfairs.

Lothian Green MSP Andy Wightman’s European Charter of Local Self-Government (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill would incorporate the Charter into Scots law, in order to strengthen the status and standing of local government.

Among other things the Charter declares the right of democratically elected local authorities to manage their share of public affairs under their own responsibility and in the interests of their local population; allows them to determine their internal administrative structures, with proper conditions of service for their staff; and declares their right to adequate financial resources, within national economic policy, which they may dispose of freely within the framework of their powers.

Under the bill, Scottish ministers would have a duty to act compatibly with the Charter and promote local government and the autonomy of local authorities. Legislation would be subject to legal challenge on the ground of incompatibility with the Charter.

All three bills are awaiting the beginning of the stage 1 scrutiny process.