Scottish Conservatives left ‘disappointed’ after UK Government breaks promise on Brexit bill amendments

Written by Tom Freeman on 10 January 2018 in News

MPs denied scrutiny after changes promised to the EU Withdrawal bill on the powers of the Scottish Parliament delayed  

David Mundell - Scottish Parliament

MPs will be denied scrutiny of which non-reserved powers will be repatriated from Brussels, after the UK Government delayed amendments to its EU Withdrawal Bill.

Scottish Conservatives have expressed their disappointment over the move, which contradicts a promise made by Scotland Secretary David Mundell last month that the amendments would be made this week at the report stage.

In a statement yesterday, he said the changes will now not happen until the bill reaches the House of Lords.

Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins saying he was “deeply frustrated and disappointed” as he’d understood the bill would have been changed by now. 

The EU Withdrawal Bill’s clause 11 has been described as a ‘power grab’ because it would bring sections of policy normally devolved to Holyrood under the control of UK ministers.

The UK Government want all powers repatriated from Brussels to come to Westminster in the first instance.

But the Scottish Government has said the position is “incompatible with devolution” – a position backed yesterday by the Scottish Parliament’s constitution committee.

But amendments from the Scottish and Welsh Governments were defeated in the Commons under the assurance the bill would be amended “on report”.

However, last night Mundell said: “I regret that has not been possible to bring forward amendments at the report stage but our commitment to improve the bill remains absolute.

“The most important thing is that the changes we bring forward command support on all sides, and talks between Scotland’s two governments will continue.”

The amendments will now be left to the House of Lords, which has no SNP peers.

The SNP’s Europe spokesperson Stephen Gethin accused Mundell of avoiding parliamentary scrutiny.

“Just a few weeks ago, David Mundell, stood before parliament and categorically said that the UK government would table amendments to clause 11 of the EU Bill. Today, he has gone back on his word and broken yet another promise to the people of Scotland.

“The Tories are engaged in a blatant Brexit power grab – and David Mundell’s failure to do as he promised means he is guilty of selling out Scotland.”

Shadow Scottish secretary Lesley Laird said it “shows nothing but contempt for democracy”.

“The Scottish Tories apparently voted for the bill based on the false promise that it would be amended at the next stage.

“It is time for Ruth Davidson and the Scottish Tory MPs to do the right thing and condemn the bill in its current form as it fails their key test, namely to protect the Scottish devolution settlement.”

The Scottish Parliament is not expected to give parliamentary consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill but its decision is not binding.

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