Scottish Devolution and Article 50

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:54 pm on 15th March 2017.

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Photo of Ian Murray Ian Murray Labour, Edinburgh South 4:54 pm, 15th March 2017

It must be in the post; I hope it is, because it would be thoroughly deserved. I apologise to you for elevating you to a knighthood, Mr Gray, and also to the House for being slightly late. A major constituency issue delayed me, so I only heard the end of the speech by Deidre Brock.

This issue will be a key element of the discussions over the next few years in this House. I am not sure how many thousands or tens of thousands of statutory instruments and pieces of legislation we will see when the great repeal Bill is announced, but I hope we will have some kind of process that takes into account three things. First, English votes for English laws should be suspended with the great repeal Bill, given its severity. Secondly, there must be a streamlined process, so that we do not all end up having to sit and consider 10,000 statutory instruments. I am sure that the House, and certainly the Clerks of the House, would very much welcome that.

Thirdly, I hope that the Minister and the Government—I say this with all respect and in the interests of trying to find a way through—take into account the political difficulties and sensitivities of the Scottish Parliament’s responsibilities and schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998. Schedule 5 is incredibly simple to read now because it has got so small, given the number of powers that have been devolved to the Scottish Parliament, but the key one in there is the relationship with the European Union and foreign affairs. That should not be an excuse for the Government to say that the devolved Administrations should not be heavily involved in this process.

None of us wanted to be here—I certainly did not—in terms of Brexit, but we are, and this process has to be followed through. I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Edinburgh North and Leith for securing this debate. It will probably be one of many we have on Brexit and Scotland over the next few years.

I said this to the Prime Minister yesterday in the House and will emphasise it again now. The general principle should be that where a power is not in schedule 5 to the 1998 Act and where a power has been devolved—whether to Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales or the metro mayors we are about to elect in May—the power should be devolved. The reason I put it as a principle, rather than saying everything should be devolved in a blanket way, is that some things will take some thought when it comes to the framework. While things such as fisheries, agriculture, the environment, regional development and policy from the European Union are devolved to the Scottish Parliament, it is under the EU framework. That EU framework gives the minimum standards and framework in which member states have to operate.