Holyrood’s Finance & Constitution Committee endorses The Continuity Bill but calls for greater clarity on government powers


The general principles of the Continuity Bill should be agreed by Parliament says Holyrood’s Finance & Constitution Committee.

However, much greater clarity is required from the Scottish Government on how it intends to use the power within the Bill to keep pace with EU law in devolved areas.

The Committee also recommends that Ministers give serious consideration to primary legislation as being the most appropriate vehicle for domestic law to implement significant new EU policy proposals.

But the committee’s report also welcomes a commitment from Cabinet Secretary Michael Russell, to work with the Parliament to agree an appropriate and proportionate decision-making framework for future alignment with EU law.

The findings come in a Stage 1 report published today.

Finance & Constitution Committee Convener Bruce Crawford MSP said:

“Our Committee supports the keeping pace power in principle, but is of the view that it would not be appropriate or workable for it to be absolute and inflexible.

“Our Committee does not accept that the use of this power should be entirely at the discretion of the Scottish Government and believes that there needs to be much greater clarity on how the government proposes to use the power. 

“We recommend that the Bill should be amended to require the Scottish Government to provide guidance setting out the criteria which will apply to the use of the power.

“The guidance should also clearly set out how the keeping pace power interacts with other sources of regulation which will impact on people and business in Scotland.  This should include the impact of trade deals, common frameworks and the operation of the UK internal market.”

The committee says it is essential that the Parliament gives serious consideration to the level of scrutiny of the keeping pace power which should be both appropriate and proportionate.

Murdo Fraser MSP, Dean Lockhart MSP and Alexander Burnett MSP did not support the general principles of the Bill.

More widely, the Committee recognises that as the end of the implementation period approaches there is a need for the Scottish Parliament to consider how its scrutiny role evolves to meet the challenges of the impact of Brexit on devolution. In particular, the Committee highlights the role of Parliament in relation to:

• The UK internal market;
• Common frameworks;
• The keeping pace power;
• International agreements including the future relationship with the EU and other trade deals.

Background information

The full text of the Finance & Constitution Committee’s Stage 1 Report can be found here.

The Stage 1 debate will be held after the October recess.

Find more on the Committee’s scrutiny of the Continuity Bill here.

Media contact

Eric MacLeod

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