The Scottish Parliament has passed many bills
bringing about change in Scotland. One of the best-known in recent times is this one:
the 5p charge for single use carrier bags. I’m Nigel Don and I’m the Convener of
the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee of the Scottish Parliament. I’m here to
see if I can find anybody who knows how the change came about. I’d just like to ask
you about the carrier bag charge. OK. You know how much you pay? 5 pence. You know why
you pay that? To try to limit the amount of plastic bags that are harming the environment.
Do you know where the charge came from? No. And because I live in England – well, I
work in England, I’m aware that you don’t have to pay it there so I find it quite irritating.
Do you know how much you pay? Um, I think it’s 5 pence for a bag, isn’t it? Yes.
And do you know why you pay it? Well, I think it’s probably to discourage the use of disposable
plastic bags because they are bad for the environment. Yep. Do you know why you pay
it? It’s to do with landfill tax. It is! There you go. Do you know where the law came
from? Probably England, well Great Britain. Well, there you go. The European Union probably
had a say in it as well. But that’s OK. In fact it comes from what we call SECONDARY
legislation. This gives us the detail of law as we know it: which bags are covered and
how much we have to pay for them. The Climate Change (Scotland) Act gave the Scottish Government
the power to make provisions for carrier bag charges in principle. But it was the Single
Use Carrier Bags Charge (Scotland) Regulations of 2014 that actually made provision for carrier
bag charges and specified the amount of that charge. The idea is that the Act enables the
Government minister to introduce the carrier bag charge but it lays down that the minister
must introduce this piece of secondary legislation and get Parliament to approve the details.
That’s where my committee comes in. We scrutinise the secondary legislation. And you might be
surprised just how many pieces of secondary legislation affect you: From tax, to pensions
to education to healthcare; the drink-driving limit; even the food we eat. So secondary
legislation just about legal technicalities. It’s about getting the detail right about
how the law works for you and me. You can find out more about secondary legislation
and the work of the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee through our website.