European Union (Withdrawal)Bill
Scottish Parliament debate
12 September 2017
I thank the minister for sending me an advance copy of his statement, and I welcome his willingness to work with all parties across the Parliaments and Assemblies of the United Kingdom to seek to protect the devolution settlement and to mitigate the impact of Brexit on those we represent.
The minister is right to say that people of different parties and none campaigned 20 years ago for devolution, but it is also true to say that a Labour Government brought those proposals forward and did so to bring Government closer to the people of all the nations and regions of our United Kingdom and to make our shared democracy stronger.
The bill as it stands seeks to overturn the basic principle of devolution established by Donald Dewar in the Scotland Act 1998 and endorsed by the referendum 20 years ago, namely that what is not reserved is devolved. Mr Russell has talked about amendments that he has discussed and agreed with Labour ministers in Wales. I welcome that work and he will be aware of the amendments that will be proposed by Labour colleagues to address the devolution aspects of the bill at Westminster. Will the minister confirm that if those amendments are passed and the principles of the devolution settlement are protected, a legislative consent motion will then be brought forward by his Government?
The bill would also take away powers from all our Parliaments, including the House of Commons, and place those powers in the hands of ministers. Does the minister accept that, if the bill is amended, simply transferring unaccountable powers in devolved areas from UK ministers to Scottish ministers would not be enough and that, therefore, work to increase the scrutiny powers of the Parliament in relation to those new powers would be all the more essential?