“Creation of UK-wide frameworks

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 4th December 2017.

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Photo of Ian Blackford Ian Blackford SNP Westminster Leader 4:45 pm, 4th December 2017

Before I begin, I wish to pay tribute to the former hon. Member for Clydesdale, and for Lanark and Hamilton East, Jimmy Hood, who served this House between 1987 and 2015 and whose sad death we learned of today. I knew Jimmy, having been a constituent of his for a number of years, and I would like to pass on condolences from everyone on our Benches.

I will speak to amendments 72 and 184, which stand in my name and that of my hon. Friend Stephen Gethins, as well as the remaining amendments standing in the names of Members from these Benches. First, I wish to update the House on the St Andrew’s day meeting in Edinburgh last week, where the Scottish Government and UK Government met to discuss the Bill and its impact on devolution. The talks were constructive and progress was made in some areas, especially on the subject of frameworks, a matter I will come to later in my speech. However, there is a long way to go on this Bill and, as it stands, the Scottish National party cannot and will not support it.

Clause 11 is a bare, naked power grab and it completely undermines the devolution settlements across the United Kingdom. John Redwood often speaks about the UK taking back control from the EU, but this Bill tramples all over the devolved competences of the Parliaments in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. The Scotland Act 1998, which established the Scottish Parliament, establishes all matters that are reserved. What is happening here is that, without agreement, Westminster is taking back control over matters that are devolved, without having shown due respect and negotiating appropriately with the devolved Administrations.

We are willing to compromise and reach agreement, but we are some distance from that point. The UK Government have failed to see a sense of urgency in concluding an arrangement with the devolved Administrations. Despite our protestations, there was too long a delay in arranging meetings of the JMC, and the Government here in Westminster have to take responsibility for that. Fundamentally, nothing can be agreed until agreement is reached on both frameworks and amendments to the Bill.

The SNP’s amendments seek to remove the power grab and protect Scotland’s devolution settlement. Amendment 72 is a simple and straightforward one.