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Scotland Act 2016

Volume 611: debated on Thursday 26 May 2016

9. What discussions he has had on devolution to Scotland with the Advocate General for Scotland since Royal Assent was received to the Scotland Act 2016. (905127)

As the House would expect, I very regularly meet the Advocate General for Scotland, and my conversations with him cover a wide range of topics.

Human rights are not conferred by the new Scotland Act because they are already devolved—they are not listed in schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998. Does the Attorney General accept that changing Scotland’s framework of human rights will require a legislative consent motion from the Scottish Parliament?

I am always amazed at the ingenuity of Scottish National party Members in asking the same question in a slightly different way every time we meet for parliamentary questions. As the hon. Lady knows, because she has previously heard the answer, the Human Rights Act 1998 is not a devolved matter but a reserved matter, and the whole United Kingdom Parliament will consider it when we bring forward proposals for change.

I am genuinely mystified at our apparent ingenuity. Clearly, human rights are not listed in schedule 5. Schedule 5 is the exhaustive list of reservations, and human rights are not on it. What is the legal basis for the Attorney General’s assertion? Human rights are devolved to Scotland.

Mr Speaker, I am not sure how many times I can get away with giving the same answer. The position is as I have set out: the Human Rights Act is a matter for the UK Parliament. I entirely understand SNP Members’ frustration at having to sit in a UK Parliament, but I am afraid that that was the decision of the Scottish people and they are going to have to live with it.