As a petition supported by SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh requesting that Donald Trump be banned from entering Britain is due to have a hearing in parliament the concept of when a ban is legislation can sometimes become confused.
In Scotland there have been a number of reported vetoes and moratoriums rightly and wrongly attributed to the SNP Scottish Government since they came to power in 2007, but what is their actual record?
The indefinite ban on Scottish fracking is an example of the efficiency with which the government has managed to push through legislation in its own back yard. Despite no technological barriers to delay the development of shale bed fracking, Fergus Ewing, the Scottish Energy Minister, states on the SNP website that the government has chosen to wait until there has been time to ‘undertake a full public consultation on unconventional oil and gas extraction’ and ‘commission a full public health impact assessment’.
Yet in other areas the government have been oddly behind the curve. It was widely reported in 2015 that the Scottish Government had prohibited the teaching of Creationism within school science classes, falling in line with both England and Wales where there has been a ban in place since 2014.
However, in conjunction with Education Scotland, the government has merely provided guidance that Creationism should “not be taught as part of science lessons.” Despite claims of a ban by the Scottish Secular Society – who petitioned for the change – Minister for Learning, Alasdair Allan, in a statement provided to the SSS website, said: “The difficulty of putting in place a ban for a specific issue, like Creationism in science, is that there will inevitably be calls for bans on other issues and the curriculum would risk becoming mired in legal arrangements.”
The issue of GM crops is where the government’s position is much more clear cut. Believing that any connection with the production of GM crops in Scotland could have a detrimental effect on its reputation as a producer of clean, natural foods the Cabinet Secretary said, “there is no evidence of significant demand for GM products by Scottish consumers and I am concerned that allowing GM crops to be grown in Scotland would damage our clean and green brand, thereby gambling with the future of our £14 billion food and drink sector.” The Scottish Government therefore felt that a complete ban in this instance was appropriate and has titled it as such.
A tobacco display ban was also strongly supported and effectively executed in 2013 while the SNP’s widely publicised support of the fox hunting ban in the House of Commons showed their ability to affect legislation nationwide. Under Labour the Scottish Government banned the practice themselves in 2002, two years before England and Wales, and are presently looking at tightening the legislation due to some in Scotland reportedly flaunting the current ban.