Europe's anti-terror laws blocked 'because Holyrood not consulted'

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MPS have blocked plans to adopt new EU proposals on terrorism because ministers failed to consult the Scottish Government, The Scotsman has learned.

A committee of MPs has told Home Office ministers they must first consult the SNP administration before the European Commission agreement, which lays out a framework of anti-terror laws to be adopted by member states, is formally introduced.

In a copy of a report by the European Scrutiny Committee seen by The Scotsman, members reject claims by Tom McNulty, the Home Office minister, that no consultation with Scotland is necessary because counter- terrorism is not devolved.

Michael Connarty, the Labour MP for Linlithgow and East Falkirk and committee chairman, told The Scotsman: "One of the reasons we have decided not to pass this is because they have not consulted the Scottish devolved administration. The minister's view was that it was a reserved matter, but it's not when you look at the Scotland Act."

He pointed out that counter-terrorism strategies were pursued using domestic laws and Scotland has its own justice system. Issues such as policing and extradition, for example, are the responsibility of Holyrood.

Mr Connarty added that committee members had concerns that anti-terror law should be a matter for national governments, not the European Commission. The Council of Europe had also promoted a much stronger agreement on terror, which the UK government had already adopted.

The committee report states: "Whilst we accept that terrorist networks may operate across national borders and that, consequently, bilateral and collective co-operation between states is desirable, even essential, the minister's explanations are not convincing."

It adds: "The minister states there is no interest of the devolved administrations in this matter as 'counter-terrorism is not devolved'. However, it is to be inferred from the minister's comments on that report that the subject of this proposal also concerns the administration of the ordinary criminal law, which is not a reserved matter."

The refusal to rubber-stamp the EU deal follows a row between Westminster and Holyrood, when Alex Salmond accused Tony Blair of making a secret deal with Libya to send back Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing.

A Scottish Government source said: "There would still seem to be elements in Whitehall who need to get to grips with the reality of the constitutional arrangements in these islands. The Scottish Government promotes co-operation with Westminster, and this needs to be reciprocated."

The Home Office declined to comment.