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House of Commons Hansard
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Leaving the EU: Devolution
06 December 2017
Volume 632
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6. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on devolving powers to Scotland after the UK leaves the EU. [902720]

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9. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on devolving powers to Scotland as a result of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU [902723]

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13. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on devolving powers to Scotland as a result of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU [902727]

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14. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on devolving powers to Scotland as a result of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU [902728]

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The UK Government are working with colleagues in the devolved Administrations to carefully consider our approach to powers returning from the EU. At the last meeting of the JMC (EN) we agreed a set of principles and I am confident that we can take further steps at the next meeting to be held on 12 December.

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Does the Secretary of State agree with his Scottish Tory colleagues who described clause 11 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill as “not fit for purpose” and said that it

“needs to be…replaced with a new version”—[Official Report, 4 December 2017; Vol. 631, c.731]?

If so, how does he propose to amend it?

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I heard the eloquent speech that my hon. Friend the Member for East Renfrewshire (Paul Masterton) made during Monday’s debate. Of course, the Government will respond to the issues that he raised.

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The Secretary of State will remember that when the Scotland Bill was on its way through Parliament, we submitted 60 amendments, every one of which he and the Government opposed, but most of which they then adopted through the back door of the House of Lords. Do the Secretary of State and the Government intend to use the same discredited, undemocratic process to correct the faults of clause 11?

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If the hon. Gentleman has concerns about the procedures of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, he can raise them through the Procedure Committee. He acknowledges exactly what happened: we had a debate; the Government listened and responded; and the Scotland Bill was amended for the better.

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The Federation of Small Businesses Scotland, the Institute of Directors Scotland, the Scottish chambers of commerce, Universities Scotland and many other Scottish organisations have called for a differentiated approach to immigration for Scotland. The problems that my constituents such as Françoise Milne face have crystallised the issue and the human cost. Will the Secretary of State table amendments to clause 11 to support the devolution of immigration and visa controls to Scotland?

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I do not support the devolution of immigration to Scotland. Three years ago, the Smith commission deliberated on what powers and responsibilities would be held in the Scottish Parliament and what would be held here in Westminster. It was agreed by all parties that Westminster would retain immigration.

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During Monday’s debate on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, Scottish Tory MPs said that clause 11 was “not fit for purpose”, but is not the reality that while we hear much talk from them, they are actually just Lobby fodder for the Government?

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Conservative Members are happy to be judged by our actions. We heard all these things when the Scotland Bill was going through the House of Commons, yet at the end of the process, Lord Smith said that it met his Committee’s requirements in full. In this House we will deliver an EU (Withdrawal) Bill that can generate the consent of the Scottish and Welsh Governments.

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May I commend to my right hon. Friend the most recent report of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, which was published last week, on inter-institutional relations in the UK? Will he accept that there is a strong consensus that devolution arrangements are not finished and we need far stronger institutional underpinning of the relations between the four parts of the UK, and that this is an opportunity to achieve that?

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Of course I have seen my hon. Friend’s excellent report, and the Government are continuing to consider it. Obviously I believe that intergovermental institutions and relations can be improved, and we must continue to work on that.

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It is welcome news that good progress was made at the last meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee, when principles underpinning common frameworks were agreed. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is vital for Scotland’s two Governments to work together as we leave the European Union, so that the common frameworks that we need to maintain the UK internal market are retained while all remaining powers are devolved?

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I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend, and that is our approach. I am happy to put on record that I welcome the Scottish Government’s constructive approach to these matters in recent weeks.

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Let me first thank the Secretary of State and other Members for their condolences, on behalf of Jimmy Hood’s family.

On Monday night, the Scottish Tories were herded through the Lobbies and told to trample all over the devolution settlement. Who issued those instructions, the Prime Minister or Ruth Davidson and the Secretary of State?

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I know that the hon. Lady does not like it, but the Bill is going to be amended not at the behest of the Labour party’s incoherent approach or the Scottish National party’s nationalist approach, but because Scottish Conservatives have tabled practical amendments.

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I welcome that clarification, but the question was really “Why could the Secretary of State not have presented those amendments the other night?” Throughout Monday’s debate his Scottish colleagues acknowledged that there were deficiencies in the Bill, but were unable to name one. Will the Secretary of State now do what they could not? Will he tell us first what deficiencies there are in the Bill, and secondly why they voted for the Bill to be passed unamended when they all knew that it was fundamentally flawed?

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If the hon. Lady had been in the Chamber at the time, she would have heard the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for East Renfrewshire (Paul Masterton). He set out very clearly why clause 11 needed to be amended, and what type of amendments would be tabled.

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May I associate myself and the Scottish National party with the Secretary of State’s comments about the late Jimmy Hood?

We are more than halfway through consideration in Committee of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill and, in particular, its effect on devolution. I think that the people of Scotland need clarity during this process. The Secretary of State knows that there is widespread concern throughout the House, and in his own party, about the measures in clause 11. He has indicated that there will be amendments, so may I ask him this? Will the Government table amendments to clause 11, yes or no?

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I hope that the hon. Gentleman’s second question is shorter.

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May I ask the Secretary of State when that will happen?

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The answer is that it will happen on Report. We have been very clear about this. The Committee stage is about listening and adapting to issues that have been raised; we have listened to my hon. Friend the Member for East Renfrewshire, and we will table amendments to clause 11.