UK Supreme Court cases in Holyrood powers row have date set for hearings

Two Scottish Parliament Bills stoking tensions with Downing Street over the extent of Holyrood powers are now set to be heard by the UK’s highest judicial authority in late June 2021.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill and the European Charter of Local Self-Government (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill, passed by Holyrood in March 2021, were referred to the UK Supreme Court in April as UK Government officials raised concerns that the legislation could infringe on the legislative powers and sovereignty of Westminster.

The Supreme Court hearing on whether the Bills in question are ‘outside the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament’ is scheduled for June 28 and 29 – with the hearing set to conclude on the 29th.

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It comes after Scottish Secretary Alister Jack requested that changes recommended by the UK Government be made to the UNCRC (Scotland) Bill to comply with and the Bill was passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament without these changes or amendments in March.

The two cases referred to the Supreme Court are set to be heard on June 28-29

In a letter sent to Deputy First Minster John Swinney in late March, Mr Jack said: "the UK Government respects the Scottish Government’s right to legislate on this matter in line with its responsibilities under the devolution settlement.

“What it cannot do is seek to make provision that constrains the UK Parliament’s ability to make laws for Scotland.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called the decision “morally repugnant”, “politically catastrophic” and “jaw-dropping” when first responding to the news on Twitter in April.

The cases will be heard by five Supreme Court justices, Lord Reed, Lord Hodge, Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Sales, Lord Stephens, while Scotland’s Lord Advocate and the Counsel General of Wales will both be present to respond to the arguments of Her Majesty’s Attorney General and Her Majesty's Advocate General for Scotland.

With Scottish Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC having recently resigned, the case next month will be met by his successor.

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