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Book reviews

19 March 18

Review of The Scottish Parliament (Lazarowicz and McFadden)

by David J Dickson (review editor)

The Scottish Parliament

Mark Lazarowicz and Jean McFadden

PUBLISHER: EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY PRESS
ISBN 978-1474433747
PRICE: £40

This latest edition of this valuable book is both timely and fully updated. The book is concise, but reading through the list of those thanked by the authors in the preface (including former Advocates General Baroness Clark of Calton and Lord Davidson of Glenclova), it is clear the authors have drawn on a wealth of practical experience to frame their text.

As they also acknowledge, the absence of a UK constitution makes an understanding of the devolved administration ever more important, framed as it is within the parameters of the Scotland Acts 1998-2016. Much is learned. Did you know the Scottish Parliament can amend an act of the Westminster Parliament in relation to devolved matters, with the exception of inter alia articles 4 and 6 of the Act of Union 1707 as relate to freedom of trade?

The text clearly and authoritatively considers the history of the Scottish Parliament, its powers, how it may use those powers, the structure of parliamentary committees, the Scottish Government and how Acts of the Parliament may be challenged. The authors offer a useful chapter where they consider and draw helpful principles from cases where the legislation of the Scottish Parliament has been challenged. Each case is analysed and discussed in some detail and include both civil and criminal cases. There have only been four successful challenges to the legislation of the Scottish Parliament but, the authors note, none of those challenges were successful for having impinged or offended against reserved matters but rather as a consequence of Convention rights. The AXA General Insurance, AB v HM Advocate, Imperial Tobacco and Scotch Whisky Association cases are all admirably analysed.

Of course, this book would be less valuable without consideration of the Miller case before the Supreme Court and the decision of that court on the status of the Sewel convention (or legislative consent motion). It is interesting to note just how frequently that convention has been invoked notwithstanding the Supreme Court held “the policing of its scope and the manner of its operation does not lie within the constitutional remit of the judiciary, which is to protect the rule of law”.

Finally, given the current issues facing the UK in its relationship with Europe, the chapter entitled “The European and International Dimensions” explains the current arrangements between the UK and Scottish Governments on EU and international issues whether from the Joint Ministerial Committee, to Scotland House in Brussels or scrutiny of EU legislation by the Scottish Parliament. This is a useful book setting out the constitutional position of the Scottish Parliament, its powers and limitations on those powers. It should be of general interest to all practitioners.

David J Dickson, solicitor advocate

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