TORIES MUST END SPECULATION ON POWERS RETURNING TO HOLYROOD
Following a national press report that ‘Holyrood is at risk of a grab for power by the Tories’, the SNP is calling on the UK government to urgently rule out any attempt to use Brexit as a cover for the appropriation of devolved powers.
In a letter to Scottish Secretary David Mundell, the SNP’s Ivan McKee – who sits on Holyrood’s Finance and Constitution committee – also pressed for a detailed strategy for the orderly return of any powers currently exercised by Brussels to the Scottish Parliament, alongside a guarantee that this process will not be subject to interference by the Westminster government.
Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has indicated that she wants to see powers over agriculture on fishing taken away from Holyrood, despite being prescribed as devolved areas of legislation in the Scotland Act.
Commenting, Martin Docherty-Hughes MP said:
“The report confirms that the UK Government are planning a Scottish power grab in an attempt to reverse the gains we have made from devolution and hand power back to Westminster.
“We must not allow a Tory government with only one MP in Scotland to trample all over our national parliament, undermining the very foundations on which it was established, under the guise of Brexit.
“The SNP has often asked the question, what is the purpose of the Secretary of State for Scotland? The role should be to fight Scotland’s corner in the House of Commons and ensure our interests are protected, not damaged.
“To leave such fundamental questions hanging indefinitely just won’t wash with my constituents, whose futures are at stake, and further betrays the commitment to a powerhouse parliament at Holyrood.
“When the Tories are done picking fights with Spain and picking their favourite shade of blue for new passports, perhaps they could turn to the more serious matter of what Brexit will mean for the Scottish Parliament.”
Notes to editors:
Herald front page story (04/04/17):“Holyrood at risk of grab for power by the Tories” – http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/15201060.Holyrood_at_risk_of_grab_for_power_by_the_Tories__MPs_warn/
“Ruth Davidson raises prospect of power grab over farm subsidies”: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/davidson-raises-prospect-of-power-grab-over-farm-subsidies-bssr50nr9
Text of letter from Ivan McKee MSP to David Mundell MP, Secretary of State for Scotland:
You will be aware of the Exiting the European Union Committee report published today, which has received widespread attention in the media.
The report warns “there is a real issue… of the protection of the position of the devolved nations in relation to decisions taken in London”.
You will be fully aware of the SNP’s clearly held position that all powers to be repatriated from the EU in areas that are currently wholly devolved – agriculture and fisheries for example – must come to the Scottish Parliament. The publication of this report gives an ideal opportunity to you, as Secretary of State for Scotland, to rule out any suggestion to the contrary and provide a guarantee over which powers will be returned to Holyrood.
As things stand, Westminster cannot legislate on Scottish farming and fishing policy. The question is whether that will remain the case under your Brexit plans – yes or no?
Professor Nicola McEwan of Edinburgh University is cited in the Committee’s report describing your government’s current prevarication on the repatriation of competences as “ambiguous” and “an obvious source of tension as the negotiations get underway”. A clear statement that Westminster will not seek to take back control of powers currently within the competence of the Scottish Parliament would bring a welcome end to such tension.
Furthermore, your government’s white paper on the Great Repeal Bill offers little in the way of clarity over how you will work with devolved administrations on a plan and timescale for the repatriations of powers. Indeed, rather curiously, the document does not refer to Scotland at all. Perhaps you would be kind enough to set out the detail of that strategy?
I look forward to your response in early course.
Ivan McKee MSP