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Chamber and committees

Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee

Meeting date: Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Agenda: Subordinate Legislation, EU Exit and the Environment, European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018


European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018

REACH etc (Amendment etc) (EU Exit) (No 2) Regulations 2019 (SI 2019/858)

The Convener

The fourth item on the agenda is to consider a proposal by the Scottish Government to consent to the UK Government legislating using the powers under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 in relation to two UK statutory instrument proposals. Are there any comments on either instrument?

Claudia Beamish

In relation to the EU directives regulations, I have gained some comfort from the fact that there are obligations on the UK Government to come to the Scottish ministers. For example, in relation to the marine environment, it would have to do so on inshore waters issues and any other issues that would affect the devolved Administration. I take some comfort from that approach.

Mark Ruskell

The evidence session that we have just had with the cabinet secretaries was useful, but it did not reassure me in relation to the REACH regulations, which will, in effect, dismantle the whole architecture of European policy making on the issue. The regulations will remove the role of stakeholders, including civic movements, that are protecting the environment, and the roles of industry, academics and experts in formulating policy. That will be a huge loss, and I did not hear from the cabinet secretary a commitment to try to replicate that in some way. We would never be able to replicate it completely, but based on the evidence that we heard from SEPA last week, it seems to have an appetite to engage with experts and, at the very least, to feed that into the process, which will now be governed by the Health and Safety Executive.

I am concerned about the status of the REACH regulations. They have been revised twice already, and in my view the new regulations are not competent. New issues are coming up all the time, including animal testing, which was raised today and seems to be another area of which the UK Government has been unaware. I understand that—the situation continues to unfold, with new unintended consequences appearing week on week. Right now, I do not want to support the regulations, which are not fit for purpose.

Stewart Stevenson

Given that the regulations have been laid by the UK Government, our position is almost irrelevant. More fundamentally, I wish to note, because no more can be done, that sending notification of an instrument on 28 March when it is to be implemented on 29 March—or, for that matter, on 12 April—is simply an unacceptable way to proceed.

The Convener

Do members have any other points? I think that we all agree that the lack of scrutiny time—even more so for these regulations—has been a real problem throughout the entire process, as we have prepared for a no-deal Brexit. It looks as though we will have to go to a vote.

First, however, we will deal with the legislative functions regulations. Does the committee agree to the Scottish Government’s proposal to consent to the UK Government legislating in relation to the Environment (Legislative Functions from Directives) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019?

Members indicated agreement.

The Convener

Does the committee agree to the Scottish Government’s proposal to consent to the UK Government legislating in relation to the REACH etc (Amendment etc) (EU Exit) (No 2) Regulations 2019?

Members: No.

We will go to a vote. Will members who agree to the proposal raise their hands? Okay. Will members who disagree to the proposal raise their hands? Is Angus MacDonald abstaining?

What about you? What are you doing?

Lynn Tullis (Clerk)

I am sorry, but I am not entirely clear about the vote.

Will members who agree please indicate their votes again?

Lynn Tullis

That is Stewart Stevenson, Claudia Beamish and John Scott.

Mark Ruskell disagrees with the proposal and Angus MacDonald is abstaining.

Are you taking the fourth option, which is not to register a vote?

The Convener

To be honest, I am not sure how I want to vote. I share concerns, so I will abstain.


Beamish, Claudia (South Scotland) (Lab)
Scott, John (Ayr) (Con)
Stevenson, Stewart (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP)


Ruskell, Mark (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Green)


MacDonald, Angus (Falkirk East) (SNP)
Martin, Gillian (Aberdeenshire East) (SNP)

The Convener

The result of the division is: For 3, Against 1, Abstentions 2.

The proposal is agreed to.

That concludes the committee’s business in public. At its next meeting, on 7 May, the committee will take evidence on tax and fiscal measures to inform its work in relation to the Scottish Government’s budget.

We now move into private session. I ask that the gallery be cleared.

12:42 Meeting continued in private until 12:43.