Scottish ministers to brief peers on Brexit bill concerns

29 January 2018, 07:38

EU Brexit

Scottish and Welsh ministers are to brief peers on the need for key Brexit legislation to be amended.

Scotland's Brexit Minister Michael Russell and Welsh counterpart Mark Drakeford will be in London on Monday in a bid to impress upon the House of Lords their concerns about the impact of the EU Withdrawal Bill on the devolution settlement.

The joint event takes place ahead of the Bill's second reading in the Lords on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Scottish and Welsh administrations have said they cannot recommend consent be given to the Bill in its current form, branding it a "power grab".

Amendments to the legislation promised when it was before MPs in the Commons did not transpire, meaning that changes will have to be made in the Lords.

Speaking ahead of meeting with peers at Westminster, Mr Russell said: "Along with the Welsh Government, we have made clear we are unable to recommend consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill in its current form.

"That's because it disregards the devolution settlement by allowing the UK Government to take control of clearly devolved policy areas like farming and fishing.

"The Scottish and Welsh Governments published amendments to the bill as far back as September to fix this issue.

"Unfortunately, the UK Government chose not to accept those amendments or to meet their commitment to bring forward their own amendments in the House of Commons.

"As the bill moves to the House of Lords, it is vital that peers are informed of our position and I look forward to explaining how devolution can be protected.

"The Scottish Government is also still seeking a resolution of this issue with the UK Government, while making sensible preparations in case legislative consent is not given by the Scottish Parliament."

A UK Government spokesman said: "We have been clear there will be a significant increase in decision-making powers for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland when we leave the EU.

"The devolved administrations agree we will need common frameworks in some areas and we are in ongoing, detailed discussions with them about this."