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Restricting devolution Scottish Parliament votes against the EU Withdrawal Bill
Tuesday, 15 May 2018 16:34 pm
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UK Government must respect the will of Parliament

Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe Michael Russell has urged the UK Government to remove the parts of the EU Withdrawal Bill that constrain devolved powers, following a vote in the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Russell said the decision of the Parliament to withhold consent from the withdrawal bill means it must now be adjusted to respect the vote.

The current bill will allow the UK Government to prevent the Scottish Parliament from legislating in key devolved areas, such as agriculture, fisheries and the environment, for up to seven years without the consent of the parliament.

He said:

“In line with the clear majority of people in Scotland, we don’t want to leave the EU and we are still working to find a way to secure as much as we can from our present relationship. But we accept that legal preparation for Brexit is required.

“However, the UK Government wants to take a power to restrict the competence of this Parliament.  And it wants to be able to exercise this power even in the face of an explicit decision by this Parliament that it should not.

“The Scottish Parliament has now said overwhelmingly that this attempt to undermine devolution is unacceptable.

“The UK Government cannot ignore the reality of devolution or try to drown out what this Parliament says. They cannot pretend that no motion has been passed.

“If they now move to force on this Parliament an arrangement for restricting devolution that does not have Parliament’s consent they will do so in the full knowledge that they are breaking the twenty year old devolution settlement and operating out with the agreed constitution. 

“The solution, as this Parliament has agreed, is straightforward. That is for the UK Government to remove the clause that fundamentally undermines devolution and to proceed on the basis of agreement.

“The UK Government must respect the will of the Parliament.”

Background

The legislative consent convention, that the Westminster Parliament will not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters without the consent of the devolved parliament, is a constitutional convention, that is a non-legal constitutional constraint.  The convention protects the role and responsibilities of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government within the UK’s overall governance system.  The Scottish Parliament motion confirms that legislative consent will not be given to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill as it currently stands. Under the convention, the UK Government should not now proceed with the elements of the Bill for which legislative consent of the Parliament is required.