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Prostitution Bill on table

The Executive had already promised to bring in such a change, but it was not clear until today whether it would be added to another Bill or introduced as separate legislation.

In setting out the Executive's legislative programme for the period up to next May's Holyrood election, Ms Curran said Bills on the judiciary - bringing sheriffs and judges all under the control of the Lord President - and the children's hearing system would now only appear in draft form, with the decision on whether to take them forward left to the new administration.

Instead, the Executive plans to bring in new child protection legislation stemming from the Bichard inquiry into the Soham murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman and a new law to plug legal loopholes affecting victims of the lung disease asbestosis.