Emergency coronavirus bill given royal assent in five days

The Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill had been unanimously agreed to in Holyrood on Thursday.

Emergency coronavirus legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament has been given royal assent in just five days.

The Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill was unanimously agreed to on Thursday after an 11-hour long sitting of MSPs at Holyrood.

The legislation aimed to make changes to the justice system, housing sector and the operation of public services.

One of the Bill’s most controversial provisions proved to be an attempt to remove juries from some of Scotland’s most serious criminal cases, a move which was criticised by opposition MSPs and the legal profession, before it was withdrawn from the Bill during Thursday’s deliberations.

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf said that a separate Bill would be laid before the Scottish Parliament on the continuation of trials in Scottish courts.

In most circumstances, a Bill has to wait four weeks to allow for legal challenges, however the legislation was fast-tracked to the Queen to allow it to be finalised.

On Twitter, constitution secretary Mike Russell said the time was “record breaking”.

Russell said: “Scotland is facing an unprecedented situation. This emergency Bill, that has now become law, was unanimously passed by the Scottish Parliament and delivers necessary powers so we can prioritise tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

“Many businesses and people struggling financially because of the crisis will now receive vital practical help.

“In particular, we must have a criminal justice system that can operate effectively while treating all those involved, including victims, fairly.

“The nation is pulling together during these difficult times and the Scottish Government will continue to engage across parties to help us get through the coming months.”

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