Select Committee on Procedure Fourth Report


5. The powers to be given to the devolved legislatures of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland differ. Perhaps the most crucial difference is that the Scottish Parliament will have powers to make its own primary legislation while the Welsh Assembly will have to rely on Westminster to find time for any primary legislation it considers desirable, but the other differences are extensive and far reaching.[4] In spite of this, we have sought to identify common principles which should underlie our recommendations. These principles are as follows:

—  in passing the legislation which underlies devolution, Parliament has agreed that certain powers and responsibilities should pass from it to the devolved legislatures; parliamentary procedure or custom should not be called in aid to undermine that decision;

—  there should be as few procedural barriers as possible to co-operation between Members of Parliament and Members of other legislatures, where such co-operation is desired;

—  it is legitimate for all Members of the United Kingdom Parliament to have an interest in matters which remain the responsibility of the United Kingdom Parliament; however Members from an area to which powers have been devolved will have a particular interest in business affecting that area;

—  even though uniformity is impossible, it is desirable that there should be as much consistency as possible in the way in which the House deals with matters relating to the devolved legislatures.

As many witnesses said, the House should respect the fact of devolution and try not to interfere with matters that are the responsibilities of the devolved legislatures.[5] It will take time and tolerance on all sides to come to a satisfactory understanding of the boundaries between Westminster rights and responsibilities and the rights and responsibilities of the devolved legislatures; this Report suggests some of the places at which boundaries could be drawn and some places at which it may be premature to attempt a rigid division of responsibilities.

4  See QQ 52-3, Evidence p 37, QQ 197, 204. Back
5  QQ 33, 175, 198. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 1999
Prepared 24 May 1999