Two members' bills, the Tied Pubs (Scotland) Bill and the European Charter of Local Self-Government (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill, are set to become law after completing their final stages in the Scottish Parliament.
Introduced by Labour MSP Neil Bibby, the Tied Pubs Bill introduces a code for the leasing and operation of tied pubs, with an adjudicator to rule on disputes. A similar code has been in operation in England & Wales under 2015 legislation, but Mr Bibby said his scheme simplified and improved on that model.
"The aims of the bill remain those that are set out in the three principles found in s 3: fair and lawful dealing; tenants no worse off because of the tie; and tied deals that provide a fair share of risk and reward. Passing the bill will realise those aims', he said in the final debate.
Independent MSP Andy Wightman introduced the bill supporting the Local Government Charter, with the aim of strengthening the standing of local government in the democratic governance of Scotland.
Dating from 1985, the charter sets out in international law a range of basic freedoms for local government across the 47 member states of the Council of Europe. Mr Wightman said that "Scotland is in fact one of the very few countries that has not incorporated the charter. If the bill is passed this evening, I look forward to England & Wales following Scotland’s example."
In his speech he added: "Like incorporation of human rights, the bill embeds a set of new rules governing the relationship with the state, violation of which can lead to sanctions...
"It is thus an enabler and promoter of a new awareness and culture of and a respect for the freedoms and powers of local government. I hope that it will not only encourage a culture shift, but that it will, in the future, curtail the potential excessive interference in the affairs of local government – from rate capping to council tax freezes – that has happened from time to time over the decades."
Both bills were passed unanimously by the chamber.