Sunday, 22 March 2015

Pre Referendum but Post Election Scottish Devolution Madness

You will recall that there are some Vows re Scottish Devolution to be made good.  They were made by the Unionist parties in a desperate attempt to avoid referendum defeat.  The HoC Political and Constitutional Reform Committee has rightly criticised some proposed clauses for amendment to the Scotland Act which are said to be the means of implementing some of the vows. They are in legal and constitutional terms utterly vacuous and frankly a bit bonkers:

For example a new sub-section 1A to be added section 1 of the Scotland Act:

(1A) A Scottish Parliament is recognised as a permanent part of the United Kingdom's constitutional arrangements.
Recognised by who?  Does not actually say it is permanent because one Parliament cannot bind another.  The Scottish Parliament is no more permanent than anything else declared to exist by a Act of Parliament; it can be repealed at any time by simple majority.  What makes the Scottish Parliament permanent is politics not law.  Even if the Scottish Parliament was entrenched in a Federal UK Constitution, it would still not be permanent, because even constitutions can be amended and overthrown.

& then it gets worse - the Sewel Convention says that the UK Parliament will not legislate on a devolved matter except with the agreement of the Scottish Parliament - that can only be a convention, because again, the supreme sovereignty of the UK Parliament cannot be fettered by any such rule.  So then we get this proposed as a clause:

"(8) But it is recognised that the Parliament of the United Kingdom will not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters without the consent of the Scottish Parliament."

What does normally mean?  What does "will" mean when the said Parliament can repeal this sub-section in the blink of an eye?

Bonkers, meaningless and of no legal effect.  

This is all politics, not law.

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