Holyrood Committee recommends ‘political solution’ to Clause 11 otherwise Parliament should not consent to EU Withdrawal Bill

10.05.2018

Holyrood’s Finance and Constitution Committee says the disagreement over Clause 11 and Schedule 3 of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill can be resolved through “mutual trust and respect” between governments across the UK.

In its report published today, the committee recommends reciprocal political commitments as a means of ensuring parity between the UK and Scottish governments.

The committee believes such an approach would mean that Clause 11 of the Bill is not required to enable the future agreement of common frameworks.
Otherwise, without another solution to the differences between the governments, the Committee recommends that the Scottish Parliament does not consent to Clause 11 of the Bill.

Bruce Crawford MSP, Convener of the Finance and Constitution Committee said:

“There is scope for a reasonable solution to be found. If there is parity and both governments are treated equally, and both are bound by political agreement, then this can be amicably resolved.

“The Secretary of State for Scotland said he trusted the Scottish Government, and I welcome that, but it is time for his trust to be put into practice.

“And for that reason, our Committee has reached the conclusion that Clause 11 and Schedule 3 of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill should be removed and for reciprocal political commitments to be included in the Inter-Governmental Agreement.”

Mr Crawford added:

“The Committee remains deeply concerned about the lack of any statutory provision within the Bill for UK Ministers to seek the consent of Scottish Ministers or the Scottish Parliament to legislate in devolved areas, especially given that the Sewel Convention does not apply to subordinate legislation.

“The Committee considers, as we stated in our interim report, that this cuts across the devolution settlement.”

The conclusions from the Committee’s report are as follows:

  • The Committee welcomes the progress which has been made in seeking to address the concerns of the devolved Governments, this Committee and other parliamentary committees across the UK in relation to the Bill. However, the Committee also recognises that fundamental differences remain between the UK Government and the Scottish Government regarding the impact of the Bill on the devolution settlement.
  • The Committee’s view is that these differences could be resolved through an emphasis on mutual trust and respect amongst governments across the UK. The Committee recommends the inclusion of reciprocal political commitments in the proposed Intergovernmental Agreement as sufficient to allow the discussions on common frameworks to proceed and provide the clarity and certainty which is needed.
  • On this basis and as we stated in our interim report, Clause 11 and Schedule 3 should be removed. Otherwise without another solution to the fundamental differences between the Scottish Government and UK Government. The Committee recommends that the Parliament does not consent to Clause 11 and Schedule 3 of the Bill.

The three Conservative members of the Committee did not support the second and third conclusions above.

The committee noted that the Welsh Government also supported reciprocal political agreements between the UK Government and devolved governments.

The committee’s report will inform next week’s chamber debate of the Legislative Consent Motion (Tuesday 15 May).

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