Referendums (Scotland) Bill

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 13 June 2019.

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Photo of Bill Bowman Bill Bowman Conservative

1. To ask the Scottish Government what progress it is making with the Referendums (Scotland) Bill. (S5O-03374)

Photo of Graeme Dey Graeme Dey Scottish National Party

The Referendums (Scotland) Bill was introduced to the Parliament on 28 May. The Finance and Constitution Committee has been designated as the lead committee for the bill, and it will consider its timetable.

Photo of Bill Bowman Bill Bowman Conservative

The bill gives Scottish ministers the power to call referendums and to set referendum questions, a power that United Kingdom ministers do not have. Why do Scottish ministers need those powers?

Photo of Graeme Dey Graeme Dey Scottish National Party

I think that Mr Bowman’s question is based on a slightly false premise. The idea that the Scottish Government decides upon something and that that is an end to it is simply not the case.

In the first instance, the framework bill will be scrutinised by the Finance and Constitution Committee, as I have just said. Given that its membership comprises Adam Tomkins and Tavish Scott among others, I am in no doubt whatever, seeing the glint in Mr Tomkins’s eye—

Photo of Graeme Dey Graeme Dey Scottish National Party

Well, there we go. I am in no doubt whatever that the scrutiny will be intense, as indeed it should be. As with any bill, the Referendums (Scotland) Bill will be open to amendment. Parliament is currently taking on the role of debating and approving the rules and procedures for Scottish referendums to ensure that the framework commands public confidence that referendums will be fair and open and in line with established best practice.

In the second instance, if the bill passes, it would thereafter be a matter for Parliament, as well as for Scottish ministers, to decide whether it is appropriate to hold a referendum on a particular topic.