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Holyrood committee braced for "mountain" of Brexit regulations

6 October 2017

An anticipated "mountain" of regulations connected with the Brexit process has led a Holyrood committee to appeal to the Scottsh Government for close cooperation to ensure that quality and adequate scrutiny are maintained.

In its annual report, the Delegated Powers & Law Reform Committee recognises that an unprecedented volume of secondary legislation will be created in the leadup to the UK's withdrawal from the European Union, and calls on the Scottish Government to work with the Parliament through the process.

The report welcomes the ongoing improvement in the quality of the Scottish Statutory Instruments (SSIs) laid by the Scottish Government and Lord President in 2016-17, the period covered by the report. It also welcomes the efforts being made to meet commitments given to the committee to correct errors identified in instruments.

However, this took place against a significant fall in the number of SSIs laid before the Parliament. The committee is seeking an explanation from the Scottish Government to understand the reasons behind this fall.

There were also "a few exceptions" to the improvement, the report states – "In particular the packages of instruments relating to the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, the Tribunals (Scotland) Act 2014 and the instruments implementing the EU directive concerning environmental impact assessments."

It also restates the committee's ongoing concerns about framework legislation, particularly where powers are taken as a substitute for policy development: "The committee would be concerned if the frequency of such bills increase and invites the Scottish Government to indicate whether it intends to use such an approach more frequently."

Convener Graham Simpson MSP commented: “The committee has seen significant improvements to the quality of legislation laid by the Scottish Government, but there is also a marked reduction in the number of instruments laid. We want assurances this reduction is a result of improvements in programming rather than delays in drafting.

“The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill will undoubtedly generate a surge in secondary legislation. We are calling on the Scottish Government to work with us, to agree processes that will ensure that the quality of legislation and the scrutiny afforded to it is maintained in these exceptional circumstances”.

Click here to access the report. 

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