Ministers express “significant concerns” over UK legislation.
The Scottish Government has recommended that the Scottish Parliament refuse consent for two Bills being introduced by the UK Government.
Trade Minister Ivan McKee has said the UK Procurement Bill and the Trade (Australia and New Zealand) Bill would currently allow UK Ministers to legislate in matters that are devolved to the Scottish Parliament, including implementing trade agreements in Scotland without the scrutiny of MSPs.
Legislative Consent Memorandums have been lodged in the Scottish Parliament, recommending that MSPs refuse consent for both Bills in their current form as they undermine the devolution settlement and the agreed ways of working across the UK following the UK’s exit from the European Union.
The UK Government has previously ignored similar concerns about its Professional Qualifications Act 2022, despite the clear refusal of consent to that legislation by the Scottish Parliament.
Mr McKee said:
“Once again we were not consulted by the UK Government before the introduction of proposed legislation that as currently drafted, bypasses the Scottish Parliament and undermines Scotland’s powers. That is deeply disappointing, but sadly no longer surprising.
“Scottish Ministers cannot recommend consent for these two Bills as they disregard the role of the Scottish Parliament and Government - a role enshrined in statute in the devolution settlement – but we have made it clear to UK ministers that we are prepared to work with them to resolve these issues urgently. The UK Government’s approach continues to undermine devolution, to renege on promises made ahead of the EU referendum and puts at risk Scotland’s economic interests and needs.”
The Procurement Bill gives UK Ministers powers to amend devolved Scottish procurement legislation without the consent of the Scottish Parliament in relation to cross-border agreements and future international agreements. The Legislative Consent Memorandum can be read online.
The Trade (Australia and New Zealand) Bill gives UK Ministers powers to implement the procurement aspects of international trade agreements between the UK and Australia and the UK and New Zealand, including in Scotland where this is devolved. The Legislative Consent Memorandum can be read in full online.
Mr McKee has written to Jacob Rees-Mogg, the UK Minister of State for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency, to express Scottish Ministers’ significant concerns over this legislation and to urge Ministers to work with the Scottish Government to resolve these issues.
Earlier this year the Scottish Parliament refused legislative consent to similar provisions in the UK Professional Qualifications Bill. However, the UK Government did not bring forward amendments to reflect the views of the Scottish Parliament, as it should under the Sewel Convention, and the Bill was passed unchanged by the UK Parliament.
The Scottish Parliament and its Committees will now consider the Ministers’ recommendations and publish a report on each Bill.
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