Holyrood calls for consent amendment in EU withdrawal bill

Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon have issued messages to mark St Andrew's Day. Picture: Getty
Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon have issued messages to mark St Andrew's Day. Picture: Getty
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The EU Withdrawal Bill should be amended so that UK ministers cannot legislate in devolved areas without the consent of the Scottish Government, MSPs have said.

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Holyrood’s Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee has also called for MSPs to be able to scrutinise Scottish ministers’ decisions before consent is given.

The committee has been scrutinising the legislative consent memorandum (LCM) accompanying the crucial Brexit legislation.

The memorandum was lodged by the Scottish Government in September but ministers have said they do not intend to bring forward the associated motion needed for Holyrood to agree to the UK Parliament legislating on devolved matters.

Earlier this week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon reiterated that the Bill was not acceptable in its current form during talks with Theresa May at 10 Downing Street.

The devolved administrations of both Scotland and Wales have branded the legislation - which has begun its committee stage in the House of Commons - a ‘’power grab’’ as it would return responsibilities in areas such as agriculture from Brussels to London.

In a report setting out its consideration of the LCM, the committee agreed UK ministers should only be able to legislate in devolved areas with the consent of the devolved administration.

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The report said ministers should not use the broad powers conferred on them under the Bill to make policy changes and should not legislate in a way that undermines the opportunity for Parliamentary scrutiny and public engagement.

Committee convener Graham Simpson MSP said: “We are strongly of the view that the Bill should be amended so that UK ministers can only legislate in devolved areas with the consent of devolved governments.

“However, there needs to be a process for the Scottish Parliament to scrutinise Scottish ministers’ decisions before consent is given.

“Legislation can be taken through by different routes and we want governments to co-operate when deciding how to handle these decisions and we want legislatures to be able to scrutinise those decisions.

“We also note that there is specific protection for the Northern Ireland Act and we think that should also apply to the Scotland Act 1998.

“It is essential that legislatures have an opportunity to apply thorough scrutiny to regulations made under these powers. The scrutiny process should not be compromised.”

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