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11 December 2015
Scottish Government bid to block Trade Union Bill rejected

Scottish Government bid to block Trade Union Bill rejected

A Scottish Government attempt to block trade unions reforms taking effect north of the border has been rejected by Holyrood’s presiding officer.

Ministers had argued that the new law would affected devolved areas and should therefore be subject to a legislative consent memorandum (LCM).

However, Tricia Marwick said the procedure - which seeks Holyrood’s consent if Westminster plans to legislate on devolved matters - was not appropriate.


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The Trade Union Bill, which formed part of the Conservative election manifesto, will tighten rules on strike ballots and introduce curbs on picketing.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last night told a Scottish Trades Union Congress rally in Glasgow that she would voice Scotland’s opposition to the bill at a meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron at Downing Street. 

It came after Marwick wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training, Roseanna Cunningham, ruling out an LCM.

“Having given the matter careful consideration and applying the tests set out in the rules, my view is that the Parliament’s legislative consent is not required and it is not competent to lodge a legislative consent memorandum,” said Marwick.

Cunningham said the Scottish Government will now be “seeking other ways for the Scottish Parliament to express its discontent with the legislation”.

She said: “The government intends to submit a general memorandum setting out our objections to the bill for a parliamentary committee to consider.

“However this decision should leave people in no doubt that the only way to protect workers is through the full devolution of trade union powers.”

Labour MSP Neil Findlay raised a point of order at Holyrood yesterday afternoon, urging Marwick to reconsider.

He said: “There is clearly a will across this Parliament to reject the Trade Union Bill, which will have an impact on functions of government, particularly in relation to payroll deductions, facility time and a range of features that are clearly the preserve of the Scottish Government.”

Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said: “The SNP now have egg on their faces after trying to play constitutional games in relation to what clearly is a reserved matter for the UK government.”

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