EU Continuity Bill

Devolution to be protected post Brexit

Continuity Bill introduced.

An EU Continuity Bill has formally been introduced to the Scottish Parliament to protect devolution and prepare Scotland’s laws for Brexit.

The Bill is being introduced after UK Government legislation was called “incompatible with the devolution settlement” by a cross-party Holyrood committee.

The UK legislation - the EU (Withdrawal) Bill - would mean the UK Government taking control of some devolved powers such as aspects of farming and fishing, after Brexit.

The Continuity Bill will come into effect if the Scottish Parliament decides not to consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill and will prevent what ministers have described as a “power grab”.

The Scottish Parliament will be asked to consider the introduction of the Continuity Bill as an Emergency Bill, to ensure that the Continuity Bill is passed before the EU (Withdrawal) Bill becomes law. 

The purpose of the Continuity Bill is to ensure Scotland’s laws will work properly on the day the UK leaves the EU. 

Michael Russell, the Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe said:

“Both the Scottish and Welsh Governments have today published EU Continuity Bills to protect devolution.

“The Scottish Government is opposed to leaving the EU in line with the overwhelming majority of people in Scotland, but we have a duty to prepare our laws for Brexit.

“We have offered to work with the UK Government on UK-wide legislation to do this job but they are insisting on taking control of devolved powers without the agreement of the Scottish Parliament.

“We could never recommend giving consent to such a law and therefore we must make our own preparations in devolved areas to provide certainty and to protect devolution.

“If the UK Government drops its power grab then it may still be possible to reach agreement, in which case we would not need to proceed with the Continuity Bill.

“But we are proposing this bill should be put through on an emergency timetable to ensure it becomes law in time to make the necessary preparations.

“It must be stressed that the Scottish Government can only introduce this Bill if we are satisfied that it is within the powers of the Parliament to do so.

“The Lord Advocate will answer a written question on this matter and because of the importance of this issue, if Parliament agrees, will make a statement in the Chamber tomorrow.

“In addition the Presiding Officer of the National Assembly of Wales has approved the Welsh Continuity Bill.

“The statement from the Scottish Parliament’s Presiding Officer on legislative competence does not in any circumstance prevent the Scottish Government from introducing or progressing any Bill – nor does it prevent the Scottish Parliament from approving this Bill.  We are determined to protect the devolution settlement that the people of Scotland voted for.” 

Background

The European Union (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill can be found here.

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