The Scottish Government is to bring forward with some speed into law arrangements to require the consent of Scotland in UK Government legislation which affects devolved matters.
This follows on from a string of debates and statements in the UK Parliament which affect Devolution:
- The way Scottish MPs were not able to speak during in the EU Withdrawal Bill on Devolution
- David Mundell’s statement on the Sewel Convention when he affirmed that Scotland was not a partner in the UK but a part of the UK.
- Leader of the SNP,Ian Blackford’s, emergency debate on the Sewel Convention, when English Tory MPs came in from drinking and watching football in the bar of the House of Commons to vote.
Michael Russell, Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe, in the Scottish Government said:
“The Scottish Government will do everything in its power to protect the well-being of Scotland and promote the rights and interests of everyone who lives here. We are not going to allow the process of devolution to go backwards.
“The EU Withdrawal Bill still contains unacceptable provisions that allow UK Ministers to change the powers of the Parliament without agreement. The UK Government is ignoring the vote of the Parliament to refuse consent to the bill – in direct breach of the Sewel convention.
“That convention prevents Westminster legislating without consent in areas within our competence or to change our powers. The convention has never been breached before. Now it has been.
“When the most recent Scotland Act was going through the UK Parliament, we argued that references to the Sewel Convention would be nothing more than a convenient fig leaf. So it has proved.
“At that time we also proposed provisions to put Sewel on a stronger footing. Crucially, these provisions would have required the UK Government to consult with the Scottish Government on any bills requiring consent in advance of their introduction, and they would have provided a proper statutory footing for the Sewel Convention, as recommended by the Smith Commission, by setting out the requirements of the Convention in full, on the face of the Scotland Act.
“Those provisions would have protected the role of this Parliament in the laws it is responsible for rather than confuse them, as the UK Government’s preferred provisions clearly have now done. They would have also strengthened inter-governmental working.
“It is time to look again at how we embed the requirement for the Scottish Parliament’s consent in law.”