In accordance with the Sewel Convention, the UK Parliament does not legislate with regard to devolved matters in Scotland without the consent of the Scottish Parliament.
This is an important part of the devolution settlement, which acknowledges the special constitutional position of the Scottish Parliament and the democratic mandate conferred on this Parliament by the people of Scotland. In the view of the Scottish Government, the Sewel Convention will remain an essential part of the constitution of the UK for as long as the UK Parliament retains its current powers and functions in relation to Scotland.
In the normal course of business, legislation on devolved matters should be scrutinised and determined in the Scottish Parliament. There may however be situations in which it is helpful and appropriate for legislation dealing with devolved matters to be taken forward at Westminster.
The Scottish Government is committed to assessing opportunities of this kind on their merits and to working closely and constructively with the UK Government, on a case by case basis, to deliver legislation which best meets Scotland’s needs. The Scottish Government is equally committed to working with the UK Government to pursue opportunities to extend devolved competence.
The formal consent of the Scottish Parliament is required in relation to all proposals for Westminster primary legislation on devolved matters, including alterations to devolved competence, in accordance with Chapter 9B of Standing Orders.
Within the legislative programme announced today by the UK Government, we have identified potential opportunities to legislate for the benefit of Scotland on matters that are within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament or which alter legislative or executive competence.
The UK bills which we currently expect to give rise to Legislative Consent Motions in the Scottish Parliament cover:
Crime & Courts Bill – to create the National Crime Agency; make provisions about the structure, administration, and powers of courts and tribunals and judicial appointments; establish UK Border Agency Criminal Investigation Powers, and, permit Social Security and Tax Credit Data-Sharing.
Electoral Registration & Administration Bill – to include provisions to bring forward Electoral Administration and Individual Electoral Registration (IER).
Energy Bill – to address Reform of the Electricity Market following the DECC White Paper published last year. The intention is to ensure a secure electricity supply, investment in low carbon technologies and to minimise costs.
Enterprise & Regulatory Reform Bill – the Bill will address Regulatory reforms and Repeals; Dispute Resolution; Reform of competition laws; Executive pay, and, establish the Green Investment Bank.
The Scottish Government will, in due course, lodge memoranda and motions for these bills, once they have been introduced in the UK Parliament. It will then be for the Scottish Parliament to determine whether to give or withhold consent.
It is possible that further opportunities to legislate for Scotland by means of Legislative Consent Motion may occur in connection with other UK bills, including Private Member’s bills. Any additional proposals of this kind, together with any relevant amendments to the government bills listed above, will be drawn to the attention of the Parliament as they arise, in line with the requirements of Standing Orders.