Scottish and Welsh governments will publish UK Brexit bill amendments
Scottish Parliament 'will not consent' to power grab, says Michael Russell
The Scottish Government will publish amendments to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill as it cannot give consent to the UK legislation as it stands, Scotland’s Brexit minister Michael Russell has said.
Although the Scottish Parliament’s consent is not binding, Russell told MSPs he cannot recommend Holyrood back the bill which repeals EU law because it transfers responsibility over previously devolved matters to Westminster.
A series of amendments, jointly agreed with the Welsh Government, will be published shortly, he added.
The EU Withdrawal Bill was backed by MPs at stage two on Monday night and now moves into the committee stage, but the Commons has also voted to give the Conservatives a controlling majority of its policy committees.
“The EU (Withdrawal) Bill appears to represent a deliberate decision by the UK Government to use the process of Brexit as cover for taking powers in areas of policy which are clearly within the responsibility of this Parliament,” Russell told MSPs in a statement.
“In areas of Scottish devolved responsibility vital to the success of our country, such as agriculture, the environment, fisheries, forestry, research, or justice cooperation, the Scottish Parliament will have no say over what comes back from the EU on withdrawal or what is done with these important policy areas afterwards.
“It is not a logical, or essential, part of any Withdrawal Bill that new limitations are placed on the Scottish Parliament’s powers, on the National Assembly for Wales’s powers, or on the powers of the Northern Ireland Assembly.”
The Scottish Conservatives denied the existence of a power grab. Deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said: “Scottish Conservatives challenge the construction placed on the actions and motives of the UK Government now and the ceaseless hyperbole of a so-called power grab, which the UK Government has repeatedly and expressly stated is neither desired nor intended.”
But Scottish Labour’s Lewis Macdonald said: “The bill would also take away powers from all our Parliaments, including the House of Commons, and place those powers in the hands of ministers.”
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