Historic Continuity Bill To Be Fast Tracked Through Scottish Parliament

Scottish Parliament

© Copyright kim traynor

The Scottish Parliament has decided by a vote of 86 to 27 to treat as an Emergency the:

UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill.

The only political party to vote against it was the Conservatives.

What is this and what does it mean?

“A Bill for an Act of the Scottish Parliament to make provision for Scotland in connection with the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU.”

The purpose of the Bill is to ensure that there are no gaps when the UK leaves the EU in just over a years time with regards to Scots Law. That there is ‘continuity’.

There are 3 main points to it:

  • it retains in domestic law EU law currently operating in devolved areas
  •  it gives the Scottish Ministers the powers needed to ensure that devolved law
    continues to operate effectively after UK withdrawal
  • it gives the Scottish Ministers the power to, where appropriate, ensure that Scotland‘s devolved laws keep pace after UK withdrawal with developments in EU law.

It does not give Scotland any more powers than it already has.

UK Government Ministers would also require the consent of Scottish Government Ministers if they wish to introduce legislation which would affect the operation of the retained EU Law.

It is hoped that this will provide the assurance of stability for both people, business and organisations who would be affected by uncertainty if it was not in place. The UK will leave the EU on the 29th March 2019.

The Continuity Bill will ensure that EU Law which covers matters currently devolved to Scotland would transfer to Scots Law.

Normally passing legislation in the Scottish Parliament requires 3 stages which allows for the consideration by committees of Bills. This involves taking evidence and discussion within the committee. This will not happen with the Continuity Bill. It will be an Emergency Bill.

There will be no consideration by committees but the three stages will involve debate by the full parliamentary Chamber. The timetable is also very short.

  1. Stage 1:7th March
  2. Stage 2:13th March
  3. Stage 3: 21st March

During the debate on the 1st March Michael Russell, Minister in the Scottish Government for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe said:

Michael Russell  Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe

Photo Scot Gov

“It is essential that the continuity bills in Wales and Scotland become law before the withdrawal bill does. In the absence of an agreement about a common UK approach, and in defence of devolution, this Parliament must prepare itself to assert—if it has to—the right to legislate on the consequences for devolution of withdrawal from the EU. To do so, we must put in place the necessary safeguards and stopgaps, and our continuity bill is at the heart of that process.

“Without it, we will be defenceless and our negotiating position as a Government will be severely weakened. We must not only have options and choices; we must be seen to have options and choices. I hope that all parties in the Parliament will back the position that I am laying out, so that there is a united Scottish voice. “

The Vote was as follows


    • Adam, George (Paisley) (SNP)
      Adamson, Clare (Motherwell and Wishaw) (SNP)
      Allan, Dr Alasdair (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP)
      Arthur, Tom (Renfrewshire South) (SNP)
      Baillie, Jackie (Dumbarton) (Lab)
      Baker, Claire (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab)
      Beamish, Claudia (South Scotland) (Lab)
      Beattie, Colin (Midlothian North and Musselburgh) (SNP)
      Bibby, Neil (West Scotland) (Lab)
      Brown, Keith (Clackmannanshire and Dunblane) (SNP)
      Campbell, Aileen (Clydesdale) (SNP)
      Coffey, Willie (Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley) (SNP)
      Cole-Hamilton, Alex (Edinburgh Western) (LD)
      Constance, Angela (Almond Valley) (SNP)
      Crawford, Bruce (Stirling) (SNP)
      Cunningham, Roseanna (Perthshire South and Kinross-shire) (SNP)
      Denham, Ash (Edinburgh Eastern) (SNP)
      Dey, Graeme (Angus South) (SNP)
      Doris, Bob (Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn) (SNP)
      Dornan, James (Glasgow Cathcart) (SNP)
      Dugdale, Kezia (Lothian) (Lab)
      Ewing, Annabelle (Cowdenbeath) (SNP)
      Ewing, Fergus (Inverness and Nairn) (SNP)
      Fabiani, Linda (East Kilbride) (SNP)
      Fee, Mary (West Scotland) (Lab)
      Findlay, Neil (Lothian) (Lab)
      Finnie, John (Highlands and Islands) (Green)
      FitzPatrick, Joe (Dundee City West) (SNP)
      Forbes, Kate (Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch) (SNP)
      Freeman, Jeane (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley) (SNP)
      Gibson, Kenneth (Cunninghame North) (SNP)
      Gilruth, Jenny (Mid Fife and Glenrothes) (SNP)
      Gougeon, Mairi (Angus North and Mearns) (SNP)
      Grahame, Christine (Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale) (SNP)
      Grant, Rhoda (Highlands and Islands) (Lab)
      Greer, Ross (West Scotland) (Green)
      Harper, Emma (South Scotland) (SNP)
      Harvie, Patrick (Glasgow) (Green)
      Haughey, Clare (Rutherglen) (SNP)
      Hepburn, Jamie (Cumbernauld and Kilsyth) (SNP)
      Hyslop, Fiona (Linlithgow) (SNP)
      Johnson, Daniel (Edinburgh Southern) (Lab)
      Johnstone, Alison (Lothian) (Green)
      Kelly, James (Glasgow) (Lab)
      Kidd, Bill (Glasgow Anniesland) (SNP)
      Lamont, Johann (Glasgow) (Lab)
      Lennon, Monica (Central Scotland) (Lab)
      Leonard, Richard (Central Scotland) (Lab)
      Lochhead, Richard (Moray) (SNP)
      Lyle, Richard (Uddingston and Bellshill) (SNP)
      MacDonald, Angus (Falkirk East) (SNP)
      MacDonald, Gordon (Edinburgh Pentlands) (SNP)
      Macdonald, Lewis (North East Scotland) (Lab)
      Mackay, Derek (Renfrewshire North and West) (SNP)
      Mackay, Rona (Strathkelvin and Bearsden) (SNP)
      Macpherson, Ben (Edinburgh Northern and Leith) (SNP)
      Maguire, Ruth (Cunninghame South) (SNP)
      Martin, Gillian (Aberdeenshire East) (SNP)
      Mason, John (Glasgow Shettleston) (SNP)
      Matheson, Michael (Falkirk West) (SNP)
      McAlpine, Joan (South Scotland) (SNP)
      McArthur, Liam (Orkney Islands) (LD)
      McKee, Ivan (Glasgow Provan) (SNP)
      McKelvie, Christina (Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse) (SNP)
      McMillan, Stuart (Greenock and Inverclyde) (SNP)
      Neil, Alex (Airdrie and Shotts) (SNP)
      Rennie, Willie (North East Fife) (LD)
      Ross, Gail (Caithness, Sutherland and Ross) (SNP)
      Rowley, Alex (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab)
      Rumbles, Mike (North East Scotland) (LD)
      Ruskell, Mark (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Green)
      Russell, Michael (Argyll and Bute) (SNP)
      Sarwar, Anas (Glasgow) (Lab)
      Scott, Tavish (Shetland Islands) (LD)
      Smyth, Colin (South Scotland) (Lab)
      Somerville, Shirley-Anne (Dunfermline) (SNP)
      Stevenson, Stewart (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP)
      Stewart, David (Highlands and Islands) (Lab)
      Stewart, Kevin (Aberdeen Central) (SNP)
      Sturgeon, Nicola (Glasgow Southside) (SNP)
      Swinney, John (Perthshire North) (SNP)
      Todd, Maree (Highlands and Islands) (SNP)
      Watt, Maureen (Aberdeen South and North Kincardine) (SNP)
      Wheelhouse, Paul (South Scotland) (SNP)
      White, Sandra (Glasgow Kelvin) (SNP)
      Wightman, Andy (Lothian) (Green)


      Balfour, Jeremy (Lothian) (Con)
      Ballantyne, Michelle (South Scotland) (Con)
      Bowman, Bill (North East Scotland) (Con)
      Briggs, Miles (Lothian) (Con)
      Burnett, Alexander (Aberdeenshire West) (Con)
      Cameron, Donald (Highlands and Islands) (Con)
      Carlaw, Jackson (Eastwood) (Con)
      Carson, Finlay (Galloway and West Dumfries) (Con)
      Chapman, Peter (North East Scotland) (Con)
      Corry, Maurice (West Scotland) (Con)
      Davidson, Ruth (Edinburgh Central) (Con)
      Fraser, Murdo (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)
      Golden, Maurice (West Scotland) (Con)
      Greene, Jamie (West Scotland) (Con)
      Hamilton, Rachael (Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire) (Con)
      Halcro Johnston, Jamie (Highlands and Islands) (Con)
      Kerr, Liam (North East Scotland) (Con)
      Lockhart, Dean (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)
      Mountain, Edward (Highlands and Islands) (Con)
      Mundell, Oliver (Dumfriesshire) (Con)
      Scott, John (Ayr) (Con)
      Simpson, Graham (Central Scotland) (Con)
      Smith, Liz (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)
      Stewart, Alexander (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)
      Tomkins, Adam (Glasgow) (Con)
      Wells, Annie (Glasgow) (Con)
      Whittle, Brian (South Scotland) (Con)

      The result :For 86, Against 27, Abstentions 0.

      Motion agreed to,

      That the Parliament agrees that the UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill be treated as an Emergency Bill.


You can watch the debate here:


Reporter: Fiona Grahame


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5 replies »

  1. That was a marvellous piece of journalism. In depth yet clear and very objective. A pleasure to read.

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