Devolved policy ‘must return to Holyrood’ on Brexit day

Committee believes UK Environent Bill as it stands would only allow Scottish ministers limited say.

Policy on devolved issues should return to the Scottish Parliament on the day the UK leaves its Brexit transition period with the EU, according to a committee of MSPs.

A report published by Holyrood’s environment, climate change and land reform committee has returned a unanimous disagreement for consenting to the UK Environment Bill.

They believe the Bill as it stands would only allow Scottish ministers to have limited scope of influencing decisions related to policy or legislation implemented.

Britain legally departed from the European Union on January 31 this year, however, it remains in a standstill transition arrangement, maintaining access to the European single market and customs union, until December 31.

Ahead of a debate on the environmental legislation at Holyrood, the committee is writing to both the UK and Scottish governments asking for the rationale behind sharing powers via Westminster legislation rather than in Holyrood.

Committee convener Gillian Martin MSP said: “There is an urgent need for new laws to be put in place to safeguard frameworks previously provided for by EU law – but legislation which is not at the expense of the devolved powers of the Scottish Parliament.

“To pass this Bill would represent a very real and significant change to the devolution settlement.

“Of course there will be policy areas where it makes sense to legislate to establish a joint scheme with the rest of the UK, but decisions about environmental policy in Scotland should be made in the Scottish Parliament, by members of the Scottish Parliament, to whom Scottish ministers are accountable.

“Our committee has one voice on this issue – that only Scottish primary legislation will enable full Scottish parliamentary scrutiny and accountability of these legislative proposals and therefore respect the devolution settlement.

“Our report speaks for itself and lays bare why we are unable to make recommendations in relation to this LCM.”

The UK Government has been contacted for comment.

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