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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 Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party

The point that I am making is that we must be a little cautious not to overstate the likely potential of LCMs. Reference was made to the Welsh Assembly, which is discussing an LCM this afternoon. However, the difference in the Welsh devolution settlement means that, in practice, there is a different constitutional interpretation from that in the Scottish Parliament when it comes to issues of competence. Sadly, the history of LCMs in Wales suggests that Westminster ignoring the outcomes is an all-too-real experience for our colleagues in Wales. I understand the motivation behind the suggestion, but I want us to be a little cautious about what the process might end up with.

Ultimately, today’s debate will make clear the Scottish Parliament’s opposition to the very idea of consent to the legislation. I sincerely hope that such a clear expression of the will of this Parliament and the voice of the Welsh Assembly will see the UK Government reconsider its position on the bill. To do otherwise would demonstrate little regard for the devolved Parliaments or the impact that the bill will have on industrial relations in the devolved nations.

I understand the challenges to the Parliament’s procedures and recognise the need to consider a mechanism that can allow the Parliament to formally express its view on a reserved matter that impacts on devolved areas. I am happy to engage in any constructive dialogue around that. However, that must be done properly, through the Parliament’s Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee. We must all respect the role of that committee in this as in other matters. Such considerations will, of course, take time. Therefore, for now, our efforts must continue to focus on where we can make the biggest impact. That is why the Scottish Government will continue to make the case directly with the UK Government against the bill extending to Scotland, including through representations from the First Minister directly to the Prime Minister.

Once again, I thank the Devolution (Further Powers) Committee and its convener for the report, which gets right to the heart of the issues, the first of which is a response to the legislation. Let me make it clear that the Scottish Parliament fully endorses the committee’s recommendations and will continue to make the case to the UK Government that the bill has no place in Scotland. If we cannot be fully removed from it, at the very least we should be able to set the regulations that will apply to devolved responsibilities in Scotland. If the UK Government truly respects the will of the Scottish Parliament and the spirit of devolution, it should work with us to reach such a position.