Holyrood committee advises devolution settlement be revisited

Written by Tom Freeman on 31 October 2018 in News

Finance and Constitution Committee calls for an end to the impasse between governments over legislative consent

Finance and Constitution Committee - Parliament TV

A Holyrood committee has called for the Scottish and UK Governments to revisit the devolution settlement following a row over consent motions.

MSPs of the Finance and Constitution Committee said they could not recommend the Scottish Parliament give consent to the UK Trade Bill until relations between the governments improved.

The UK Government passed its Brexit legislation even though the Scottish Parliament refused consent, and the impasse has continued since.

Brexit remains the sticking point the two governments are at odds over. The Scottish Parliament passed alternative legislation which is being challenges by the UK Government in the Supreme Court.

The UK government has said the Trade Bill is "fully compliant" with the devolution settlement, but MSPs say the situation must be dealt with urgently. It follows a similar call from Westminster's public administration and constitutional affairs select committee to review the Sewel convention on consent from the devolved administrations.

Finance and Constitution Committee convener Bruce Crawford said: "This committee believes that the impasse between the Scottish government and the UK government in relation to the Sewel convention needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency and ideally in advance of the final amending stage of the Trade Bill in the House of Lords."

However, the three Conservatives on the committee withdrew their names from sections of the report.

Adam Tomkins said: "The Scottish Conservatives believe there is no good reason for the SNP to withhold legislative consent to the Trade Bill.

"The Sewel convention is not broken - indeed, the UK government has recently repeated its full commitment to the Sewel convention and to 'the related practices and procedures for seeking legislative consent' and this is warmly to be welcomed."

Constitutional Relations Secretary Michael Russell said: "I wholeheartedly agree that the devolution settlement urgently needs to be revisited, given the serious questions around whether it is robust enough to deal with Brexit.

"I welcome this report's agreement that the Scottish Parliament should not consent to this UK legislation because of the restrictions it places on devolution. It is a further message to the UK Government that it must end its power grab on the Scottish Parliament."






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