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UK planning another power grab on Scottish Parliament, Holyrood committee warns

A HOLYROOD committee has accused the UK Government of planning another power-grab on the Scottish Parliament.

MSPs have warned that the bill on the Northern Ireland Protocol could allow UK ministers to bypass the Scottish Parliament in devolved areas.

The Tories say the proposed Westminster legislation – which is currently under scrutiny in the Lords and at Holyrood – is needed to change the protocol, the framework of rules that dictate Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit relationship with the European Union.

But in its report, Holyrood’s Delegated Powers Committee raised concerns that, as the bill stands, there is no requirement for UK ministers to obtain the consent of the Scottish Parliament or Scottish Government before potentially interfering with new laws in devolved areas.

READ MORE: Tories accused of ‘riding roughshod’ through devolution settlement with EU law bill

The committee voiced concern that the Scottish Parliament won’t have the opportunity to effectively scrutinise all new laws which may not be reserved.

SNP MSP Paul McLennan labelled the UK bill “profoundly anti-democratic”.

He said: “This proposed new law is yet another outrageous power grab on the Scottish Parliament by the Tories at Westminster.

“It would create the deeply disturbing ability of Westminster deploying what has been described as ‘super Henry VIII powers’ to do as they please in Scotland.

“That is not democracy. It is profoundly anti-democratic and it cannot stand.”

McLennan accused the UK Government of introducing the law in order to give them powers to unilaterally change the Northern Ireland protocol because “they made such a catastrophe of their unworkable Brexit”.

The National: SNP MSP Paul McLennan said the report confirmed the UK would continue in the same 'downwards direction'

The East Lothian MSP (above) warned that despite its name the bill would impact on more than Northern Ireland.

He said: “[The bill] would allow Westminster to impose laws without the permission of the Scottish Parliament or Scottish Government.

“The Tories would not even need to consult with Scotland before deciding to change the law. That is a direct assault on and an affront to the democratic will of the people of this country.

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“Scotland has direct interests at stake in the protocol, particularly in trade and border control, and yet the UK Government has shown no willingness to engage on these issues.”

He said the Tories must “step back from this assault on devolution”, urging them to focus instead on dialogue with the EU to find a solution to the protocol.

He continued: “We urge the UK Government to return to the negotiating table and withdraw this bill. It is inconceivable to think that the Scottish Government would recommend legislative consent for a bill that seeks to trample all over devolution.

“It would also negatively impact Scotland’s economy, could be deemed to break international law and could risk sparking a trade war with our fellow Europeans, which is in no one’s interests.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: “The UK’s priority is protecting the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, and our focus has been, and will always be, preserving stability in Northern Ireland. 

“The UK’s preference has always been for a negotiated solution, but we have also said we need to resolve the situation in Northern Ireland soon which is why we introduced the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill.”



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