Senior MSPs to set out concerns at House of Lords talks on EU Withdrawal Bill

18.01.2018

Senior MSPs representing three Holyrood Committees will attend House of Lords talks on Thursday on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill and Brexit.

The MSPs will set out significant cross-party concerns over Clause 11 of the Bill and the lack of progress from the UK Government on amending the Bill during its Commons passage.

In a unanimous report last week from the Finance & Constitution Committee, MSPs made clear that legislative consent to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill will not be forthcoming from Holyrood unless Clause 11 is replaced or removed.

The talks are intended to give MPs, MSPs, AMs and Peers the opportunity to discuss key issues in the Bill ahead of it beginning its House of Lords stages.

Finance & Constitution Committee Convener Bruce Crawford MSP said:

“All members of Holyrood’s Finance and Constitution Committee agreed unanimously that Clause 11 of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill is incompatible with the devolution settlement.

“It is hard to vverstate our concern, indeed dismay, that the UK Government did not amend the Bill during its Commons passage, despite a clear commitment to do so from UK Ministers towards the end of 2017.

“If a constitutional crisis is to be averted, it is vital that the UK Government brings forward changes to the Bill that properly respect the devolution settlement.

“All three of our committees welcome this chance to share our concerns with the Lords and appreciate their willingness to engage on issues that potentially endanger the devolution settlement.”

Delegated Powers & Law Reform Committee Convener Graham Simpson MSP said:

“My committee is strongly of the view that the Withdrawal Bill should be amended so that UK Ministers can only legislate in devolved areas with the consent of devolved governments. At the same time, there needs to be a process for the Scottish Parliament to scrutinise Scottish Ministers' decisions before that consent is given.

“Ministers will have extraordinary powers to make laws under this Bill, so it is vital that each of the UK’s legislatures have the opportunity to scrutinise effectively regulations made under these highly unusual Ministerial powers.”

Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee Convener Joan McAlpine MSP said:

“As the Bill approaches its passage through the Lords, this is a timely opportunity for us to raise again the concerns that my Committee has highlighted on the implications of EU Withdrawal for Scotland.

“As the House of Lords Committees identified many similar concerns to us in their extensive work on Brexit, I hope that these joint discussions will feed into the consideration and scrutiny of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill by the Lords.

“Our delegation will also reiterate how important it is that regulatory common frameworks must be arrived at through agreement and not imposition. Any process for agreeing frameworks must be transparent and inclusive."

Background information

The MSPs are attending the Inter-Parliamentary Forum on Brexit which brings together the relevant committees from both Houses of Parliament and the devolved legislatures.

The six-strong Holyrood delegation is as follows:

Finance & Constitution Committee:
• Convener Bruce Crawford MSP
• Deputy Convener Adam Tomkins MSP

Delegated Powers & Law Reform Committee:
• Convener Graham Simpson MSP
• Deputy Convener Stuart McMillan MSP

Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee:
• Convener Joan McAlpine MSP
• Deputy Convener Claire Baker MSP

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