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Trade Union Bill

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 26th January 2016.

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Photo of Alex Johnstone Alex Johnstone Conservative

No, thank you.

Taken together, the proposed measures are not an unreasonable addition to the provisions that previous Governments put in place to facilitate good industrial relations.

I turn to the issue of a legislative consent motion. The Scottish Government has set out in detail its position on the bill. It lodged a legislative consent memorandum in relation to the bill and the Presiding Officer responded with a letter to Roseanna Cunningham in which she stated:

“Having given the matter careful consideration and applying the tests set out in the rules, my view is that the Parliament’s legislative consent is not required and it is not competent to lodge a legislative consent memorandum.”

The UK Government has set out in detail why it believes that it is not necessary to obtain the Parliament’s legislative consent. It believes that that is the case because the subject matter of the bill is not devolved to the National Assembly for Wales or the Scottish Parliament. Unemployment law, industrial relations and trade union legislation are expressly reserved under the Scotland Act 1998.

The constitutional law expert Alan Trench has commented:

“There can’t be any argument that the UK Parliament has the power to legislate regarding the operation of trade unions, balloting requirements, the operation of political funds and the like which make up the bulk of the bill, which operate equally in Scotland as in other parts of the UK.”

It is therefore reasonable for the bill to proceed.

The Devolution (Further Powers) Committee reported on the bill on 18 January. The minister has expressed her views on that report. I should make it clear that I dissented from its conclusions and its recommendations. I believe that the bill is reasonable and that the process is legal, so we should continue with the bill and support it.