UK Withdrawal From the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Act 2021

Attorney General written question – answered on 25th October 2021.

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Photo of Lord Bruce of Bennachie Lord Bruce of Bennachie Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Scotland)

To ask Her Majesty's Government why the law officers did not refer the UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Act 2021 to Supreme Court within four weeks of the bill being passed by the Scottish Parliament.

Photo of Lord Bruce of Bennachie Lord Bruce of Bennachie Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Scotland)

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the circumstances in which they would refer a bill passed by one of the devolved legislatures to the Supreme Court.

Photo of Lord Stewart of Dirleton Lord Stewart of Dirleton The Advocate-General for Scotland

The Law Officers may refer the question of whether a Bill or any provision of a Bill would be within the legislative competence of a devolved legislature to the Supreme Court for a decision.

This power is set out in relation to the Scottish Parliament, the Senedd and the Northern Ireland Assembly in section 33 of the Scotland Act 1998, section 112 of the Government of Wales Act 2006, and section 11 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, respectively. The power must be exercised within four weeks of the Bill passing its final stage in the relevant devolved legislature.

The Law Officers exercise this power where we believe that a Bill, or a provision of a Bill, is outside the legislative competence of the relevant devolved legislature. The parameters of the devolved legislatures’ competence are set out in the relevant Acts of Parliament which have devolved various policy areas. The power in each case is discretionary and exercised in accordance with the wider public interest.

Turning to the particular Act of the Scottish Parliament to which the question refers, the UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Bill passed its final stage in the Scottish Parliament on 22 December 2020. Having taken all relevant matters into consideration, the Law Officers decided that in all the circumstances to use their discretion not to refer the UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Bill to the Supreme Court.

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