European Union (Withdrawal) Bill: Implications for devolution Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

Repatriated powers and common frameworks

1.We note the concerns which have been raised about the approach this Bill takes to devolved areas of responsibility, and welcome the Secretary of State for Scotland’s evidence that he is “coming from a presumption of devolution position” and that he hopes “a range of powers” can be transferred directly to the Scottish Parliament at the point the UK leaves the EU. We agree with the Secretary of State for Scotland that discussions to identify where common frameworks need to be retained in the future and where common frameworks covering the UK are not necessary should be “as expeditious as possible”. (Paragraph 16)

2.We recommend that the UK Government agrees with the devolved administrations what areas should be subject to common frameworks and which ones can be devolved. These discussions should be based on the premise, set out by the Secretary of State for Scotland, that all powers should be devolved unless there is good reason to reserve them. The outcome of these discussions should be published in time for Third Reading, so that Members have clarity about how provisions regarding Scotland’s devolution settlement will apply in practice, before the Bill finishes its Commons stages. Once agreement has been reached the UK Government should bring forward a plan to devolve all powers not covered by those frameworks to the Scottish Parliament. (Paragraph 17)

3.We agree with both the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Scottish Government’s Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe that UK-wide common frameworks in currently devolved policy areas should be reached by agreement between the UK Government and the governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where relevant, and not imposed by Westminster. We recommend that the UK Government work with the devolved administrations to agree these common frameworks, and what new intergovernmental machinery will be needed to support them. Any common framework must require the consent of the governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where relevant, with discussions taking place on the basis that all parties are equal partners. This would reflect the Secretary of State for Scotland’s statement that “A UK framework is not a framework that the UK Government imposes; it is a framework that is agreed across the United Kingdom”. We also recommend that the UK Government and the devolved administrations agree a mechanism by which disputes can be resolved in the event that common frameworks cannot be agreed. (Paragraph 22)

Delegated powers

4.We welcome the Secretary of State for Scotland’s agreement that the UK Government should consult the devolved administrations before using delegated powers granted by this Bill in devolved areas of responsibility, but believe that consultation is not sufficient. We recommend that UK ministers seek the consent of Scottish ministers before exercising delegated powers in devolved areas of responsibility. We would expect Scottish ministers to seek the consent of the Scottish Parliament before giving their consent. (Paragraph 26)

Legislative consent

5.The principle underlying the Sewel Convention—that the UK Parliament will not normally legislate on devolved areas without the consent of the Scottish Parliament—is an essential element of the UK’s constitution, and we welcome the recognition of its importance by both governments. We welcome the work already being undertaken by the UK and Scottish governments to come to an agreement on the content of this Bill. We recommend that the UK and Scottish governments continue their efforts to secure agreement on those clauses of the Bill which affect devolved areas of responsibility. (Paragraph 31)





16 November 2017