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Procedures Committee inquiry on the Sewel Convention, 02/05 [S]

The Scottish Parliament's Procedures Committee has called for written evidence in its inquiry on the Sewel Convention and Sewel motions. The convention states that Westminster should not normally legislate on devolved matters without the consent of the Scottish Parliament. Evidence must be submitted by 13 April 2005.

Consultation period: 02/05 to 13/04/05

Comments on any part of the Convention or process are welcomed however the Procedures Committee has outlined some key questions that could be addressed in evidence. These are:

  • Given the nature of the devolution legislation, how important is it to have a convention to the effect that Westminster should not normally legislate on devolved matters without the consent of the Scottish Parliament?

  • Should such a convention continue to operate primarily by agreement between the UK Government and the Scottish Executive, or should it become more directly a convention between the two Parliaments? If the latter, how would this be achieved, and what might it involve?

  • At what stage in the passage of a UK Bill affecting devolved matters should an approach be made to the Scottish Parliament for consent, and how quickly should the Parliament be expected to reach a decision? In what circumstances would it be
    appropriate for Westminster to proceed without consent on the grounds that the Parliament has not had time (for example, because of a recess) to consider the request?

  • What information should be provided to assist the Parliament in reaching a decision? Are the existing Executive memorandums sufficient for this purpose?

  • To what extent is it appropriate for the Parliament to subject the relevant provisions of a UK Bill to detailed scrutiny before deciding whether to give consent? In particular, should a Scottish Parliament committee always (time permitting) be
    given an opportunity to take evidence and report to the Parliament before a Sewel motion is taken in the Chamber? Or should the detailed scrutiny be left to Westminster (and Scottish MPs in particular)?

  • How should it be decided whether a request for Sewel consent should be referred to a committee? Should there always be an opportunity for a debate in the Chamber on a Sewel motion before a formal decision is taken?

  • Is it appropriate for the Parliament to impose conditions (through the wording of the Sewel motion) on the extent of any consent it gives, or should consent generally be unqualified?

  • What process should there be to monitor Westminster Bills as they progress through their amending stages, so that the Parliament's consent can be sought for any amendments that substantially affect the Bill's impact on devolved matters
    (beyond the scope of any Sewel resolution already agreed)? Should this be done at the time amendments or tabled, or only after they are agreed to? What are the procedural implications if the amendments are for a later amending stage at Westminster, when the time available to seek the Parliament's consent before the Bill is finally passed may be very limited?


Submitting responses
Written evidence sent by post should be addressed to Andrew Mylne, Clerk to the Procedures Committee, The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh EH99 1SP.

An electronic copy, preferably in MS Word, should be e-mailed to procedures.committee@scottish.parliament.uk.

You should indicate whether you would be prepared to give oral evidence later in the inquiry.

The Committee ask that written evidence be kept to 6 pages of A4, where possible.More information on the Scottish Parliaments Procedures Committee webpage.

Further Information

  1. Scottish Parliament Procedures Committee Sewel Convention Inquiry