In a report published today, Holyrood’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee calls for powers which fall within devolved competence, including environment policy, to return to the Scottish Parliament on EU exit day.
The report, which details the committee’s consideration of the legislative consent memorandum (LCM) for the UK Environment Bill*, specifically queries why environmental powers in devolved competence should be made via UK, as opposed to Scottish, primary legislation.
The committee believes that the Bill as it stands would allow the Scottish Parliament limited scope to influence decisions on devolved policy, to scrutinise relevant legislation and its implementation and therefore, effectively hold Scottish Ministers to account.
In advance of a debate on the motion to be held in the Scottish Parliament, the committee is writing to both the UK and Scottish Governments asking for a full explanation of the rationale for sharing powers via legislation in the UK Parliament, as opposed to the Scottish Parliament.
Gillian Martin MSP, Convener of the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, said;
“There is an urgent need for new laws to be put in place to safeguard frameworks previously provided for by EU law – but legislation which is not at the expense of the devolved powers of the Scottish Parliament. To pass this Bill would represent a very real and significant change to the devolution settlement.
“Of course there will be policy areas where it makes sense to legislate to establish a joint scheme with the rest of the UK, but decisions about environmental policy in Scotland should be made in the Scottish Parliament, by members of the Scottish Parliament, to whom Scottish Ministers are accountable.
“Our committee has one voice on this issue – that only Scottish primary legislation will enable full Scottish parliamentary scrutiny and accountability of these legislative proposals and therefore respect the devolution settlement. Our report speaks for itself and lays bare why we are unable to make recommendations in relation to this LCM.”
* The UK Environment Bill was introduced by the UK Government into the House of Commons on 30 January 2020. It is one of the UK Government’s ‘Brexit’ bills, intended to provide both UK and Scottish Ministers with the power to bring forward secondary legislation that will have effect in Scotland in certain areas of environmental policy currently within EU competence.
Much of environmental policy is currently devolved to the Scottish Parliament. In its LCM for the UK Environment Bill, the UK Government is asking the Scottish Parliament to delegate its legislative powers to UK Ministers, at Scottish Ministers’ discretion, for provisions relating to producer responsibility; resource efficiency; electronic tracking of relevant waste; air and water quality; chemicals and consequential provisions.
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