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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid) 09 September 2020

Agenda: Presiding Officer’s Statement, Point of Order, Portfolio Question Time, Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill, Fisheries Bill, Business Motions, Parliamentary Bureau Motions, Decision Time, Dirty Camping


Point of Order

The Presiding Officer (Ken Macintosh)

Patrick Harvie has given me advance notice of an entirely different point of order.

Patrick Harvie (Glasgow) (Green)

I am sorry to take up chamber time after very important points of order. My point of order relates to a separate issue.

Presiding Officer, as you will be aware, the United Kingdom Government introduced the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill today. The bill is extremely politically contentious, because it drives a coach and horses through the devolution settlement and has resulted in huge objections not only here, but in relation to devolution elsewhere in the UK and, of course, in relation to the Northern Ireland peace process. The bill is also, as has been admitted by the UK Government on the record in the House of Commons, in breach of international law.

Presiding Officer, I ask for your guidance on rule 9B of our standing orders, which deals with legislative consent. How is Parliament to be protected from having unlawful legislation put before us? As you will be aware, if the Scottish Government were to introduce a bill that breached, for example, the European convention on human rights, it would be your job to protect Parliament, so you would have to make a decision on whether the bill was competent to be introduced. If we consider legislation that is ultimately found to breach the ECHR, the legislation is no longer, in that respect, law.

What similar provision exists to protect this Parliament from being asked to take, or to be complicit in, unlawful action through scrutinising and potentially casting a vote on legislation that the UK Government admits is in breach of international law?

The Presiding Officer

I thank Mr Harvie for advance notice of that point of order. That is clearly a very important and topical matter today. In this case, when the UK Parliament decides to legislate in a devolved area or to alter the devolution settlement, it is quite clear that the legislative consent memorandum process applies. I suggest that Parliament would fully take into account the points that Mr Harvie has raised in deciding whether to withhold or to grant consent during that LCM process.