Lib Dems to challenge Scottish Government over secret correspondence with the Queen
The Lib Dems plan to challenge the Scottish Government over its decision to keep correspondence with the Queen about forthcoming bills secret.
Under a royal privilege called Queen’s Consent, the Queen can get advance sight of legislation before it is passed in parliament.
But an investigation by the Lib Dems found that the monarch has used this privilege to intervene in legislation.
Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie has criticised the decision by the Scottish Government to withhold correspondence about a controversial exemption from the Heat Networks (Scotland) Bill for the Queen’s lands and properties.
An amendment to the Heat Networks Bill proposed by the Scottish Government exempted the Queen’s land from the legislation, which is intended to help tackle climate change.
During the debate on the bill, then Green MSP Andy Wightman queried the exemption and was told by then energy minister Paul Wheelhouse it was “required to ensure the smooth passage of the bill”.
But questions are now being asked about efforts by the Queen’s solicitors to gain exemptions from a series of pieces of legislation and the failure of the Scottish Government to disclose the lobbying around the Heat Networks Bill.
The Lib Dems will ask the Information Commissioner to review the Scottish Government’s decision not to release the exchanges under freedom of information law.
Rennie said: “The research by Scottish Liberal Democrats into the use of Queen's Consent in Scotland should prompt an open and honest conversation about what this process is, and how it should work in the future.
“But the SNP's obstructive approach to freedom of information law is a barrier to progress once again.
“We still don't have the full detail of how the Scottish Government were pressured into changing the law.
“Transparency is the lifeblood of good governance. Scottish Liberal Democrats were pivotal in putting Freedom of Information into law, but the SNP consistently try to dodge it.
“We will ask the Information Commissioner to review the Scottish Government's decision to keep information back. The public needs to be fully informed.”