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Withdrawal Bill amendments 'undermine devolution', says Minister

Published: 25 Apr 2018 19:01

Response to publication of UK Government amendments.

Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe Michael Russell has said the UK Government’s amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill make it “crystal clear in terms never seen before that the Scottish Parliament can be over-ridden by the UK Government”, if the parliament decides not to give consent to an order constraining its powers.

The amendments allow the UK Government to stop the Scottish Parliament passing laws in devolved areas for up to seven years without securing its agreement, “undermining devolution” Mr Russell said.

The Minister commented:

“These amendments will make it easier than ever before for the  UK Government to constrain the Scottish Parliament and undermine devolution.

“This bill allows the UK Government to prevent the Scottish Parliament legislating to protect farmers, our fishing communities, the environment, and a range of other devolved policy areas for up to seven years.

“Bizarrely, a vote by the Parliament expressly refusing to have its powers constrained in this way will actually be the trigger the UK Government needs to constrain those very same powers.

“Any decision the Parliament makes can be used by Westminster to overrule it. This is a betrayal of the convention that Westminster will ‘not normally’ legislate in devolved matters without the consent of the Scottish Parliament.

“It is now crystal clear in terms never seen before that the Scottish Parliament can be over-ridden by the UK Government – not just on the withdrawal bill, but on a range of Brexit issues.

“It is now for those who believe we should accept these amendments to set out why they are happy to allow the Scottish Parliament to be undermined in such a way.

“We will continue to talk with the UK Government to see if a solution can be agreed. That can either be a removal of clause 11 so that all the governments of the UK proceed on the basis of trust and agreement or the EU Withdrawal Bill can be amended so that the consent of the Scottish Parliament is required before the powers of the Parliament can be constrained.”