Date lodged: 17 May 2016
To ask the Scottish Government what legislative consent motions it will lodge in connection with the legislative programme of the UK Government to be announced in the Queen’s Speech on 18 May 2016.
Answered by: Joe FitzPatrick 18 May 2016
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. It is to be regretted that the UK Government failed to more comprehensively incorporate the intent of the Sewel Convention, as embodied by Devolution Guidance Note 10, in to the Scotland Act 2016. However, the UK Government has made clear that Devolution Guidance Note 10 remains the statement of the Sewel Convention in practice.
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:
Cultural Property (Armed Conflict) Bill – a Bill which aims to ratify the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and thereby establish a system of mutual recognition amongst states party that cultural heritage should be protected in the event of armed conflict, alongside mechanisms for recognising said cultural heritage, and prosecuting those who fail to comply with the Convention.
Investigatory Powers Bill – a Bill which aims to address on-going capability gaps that are seen as severely degrading the ability of law enforcement and intelligence agencies ability to combat terrorism and other serious crime. The Bill will aim to Maintain the ability of our intelligence agencies and law enforcement to target the online communications of terrorists, paedophiles and other serious criminals, to modernise our law in these areas and ensure it is fit for purpose and provide for appropriate oversight and safeguard arrangements.
Policing and Crime Bill – a Bill to Continue the reform of policing and enhance protections for vulnerable people and to continue to reform the criminal justice system to protect the public better, build confidence and improve efficiency.
The Scottish Government will, in due course, lodge memoranda and motions for these bills. 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 UK Government bills listed above, will be drawn to the attention of the Parliament as they arise, in line with the requirements of Standing Orders.