Skip to main content

Language: English / Gàidhlig

Chamber and committees

Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee

Meeting date: Tuesday, September 19, 2023


Subordinate Legislation

Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023 (Revocation and Sunset Disapplication) Regulations 2023 [Draft]

The Convener

Welcome back, everyone. Our next item of business is consideration of a type 1 consent notification for the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023 (Revocation and Sunset Disapplication) Regulations 2023. This is a proposed UK statutory instrument where the UK Government is seeking the Scottish Government’s consent to legislate in an area of devolved competence.

On 5 September, the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Net Zero and Just Transition notified the committee of the UK SI. The committee’s role is to decide whether it agrees with the Scottish Government’s proposal to consent to the UK Government’s making those regulations within devolved competence, and in the manner that the UK Government has indicated to the Scottish Government.

If members are content for consent to be given, the committee will write to the Scottish Government accordingly. In writing to the Scottish Government, we have the option to pose questions or to ask to be kept up to date on relevant developments. I remind committee members that we have written to the Scottish Government and the UK Government in relation to the SI, asking for responses within a reasonable timeframe, which I believe expires tomorrow.

Do members have any views, questions or comments?

Mark Ruskell

That was a helpful piece of information, convener. I am content to agree with the Scottish Government’s recommendation.

However, I was a bit alarmed by the letter that we received from the cabinet secretary, particularly the paragraph about the national air pollution control programme legislation, which is not included in this measure to retain EU law. The cabinet secretary says:

“this is the last opportunity to seek preservation of the air quality provisions through a UK SI. By choosing to omit these air quality provisions ... the UK Government is creating unnecessary uncertainty while it develops replacement ... proposals.”

She also says:

“Although the provisions fall within devolved competence in relation to air quality, it would not be possible to make a preservation SSI in relation to these provisions as they confer functions on the UK Secretary of State – and not Scottish Ministers”.

I am really concerned about this, because we are reaching a cliff edge on 31 October. The secretary of state could retain important EU laws that protect human health and our environment, yet it looks like those laws will not be retained. The UK Government and, indeed, the Scottish Government have the opportunity to work together on a replacement framework that would help protect human health and the environment, but there is no sign of that, so those important laws will go. It is not just parliamentarians who are raising those concerns—Environmental Standards Scotland and non-governmental organisations have raised them, too.

I am really concerned about that cliff edge. As we know, air pollution does not respect boundaries; it crosses them. Having a UK framework is important, as it is across Europe. Notwithstanding the fact that the committee has written to the UK and Scottish Governments, I am really concerned that this law looks like it is set to go on 31 October. We have, at this point, no understanding about what will be brought in to protect our human health and environment in the interim, however long that might be.

The Convener

Your point is well made, Mark. The committee has written to both the Scottish Government and the UK Government to ask for their opinions and what actions are available to them if this SI is passed, and we will have to consider carefully the letters that we get back at a later date.

As the Scottish Government is consenting to what the UK Government is doing, it is difficult for us to do within the timeframe any more than what is in those letters. That is the quandary in which we find ourselves. The committee will just have to understand that we will look carefully at the letters from both the UK and Scottish Governments when they come back. If we want to make recommendations, we can do so, but in the meantime, I fear that we have little or no option but to agree to the SI.

I will move to the substantive question. Is the committee content that the provision set out in the notification should be made to the proposed UK statutory instrument?

Members indicated agreement.

I think that we are going to have to do that. We will write to the Scottish Government to that effect.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme (Amendment) Order 2023 (SI 2023/850)

The Convener

The next item of business is consideration of a negative instrument. This order is a little unusual, in that although it is a UK instrument, it has been laid in all the constituent legislatures of the United Kingdom. Once laid, it is for procedural purposes treated here in the Scottish Parliament as if it were a negative statutory instrument, which means that its provisions will come into force unless the Parliament agrees a motion to annul them. No such motion has been laid, and the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee has made no comments or observations on the instrument.

If members have no comments, does the committee agree that it does not wish to make any further recommendations in relation to the instrument?

Members indicated agreement.

That concludes our business in public. We now move into private session.

12:12 Meeting continued in private until 12:31.