I have written before about the recently published Draft Clauses that would form part of a new Scotland Bill, the purpose of which would be to implement proposals made by the Smith Commission concerning further devolution to Scotland. The House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee — to which I gave evidence on this matter — has now published its report.

The Committee concludes, among other things, that the “Scottish Parliament is, to all intents and purposes, a permanent institution”. It appears to endorse the view I advanced, that statutory recognition of this political fact would be “legally vacuous”, but further agrees that “statutory recognition of the permanence of the Scottish devolved institutions is likely to constitute a further political (if not a legal) obstacle to any attempted abolition of those institutions”.

On the proposal to recognise the Sewel Convention in statute, the Committee shares my view that “[draft] clause 2 does not put the Sewel Convention ‘on a statutory footing’ (in the sense of giving it the force of a statute), in line with the Smith Commission Agreement”. Rather, the Committee (correctly) concludes, “In its proposed form it can only be said to strengthen the Convention in political terms.”

The full text of the Committee’s report can be found here.

Update  The House of Lords Constitution Committee has now published its report on the same matter. That Committee’s report is here.

Posted by Mark Elliott

Mark Elliott is Professor of Public Law at the University of Cambridge, a Fellow of St Catharine's College, Cambridge, and Legal Adviser to the House of Lords Constitution Committee. All views on this blog are expressed in a purely personal capacity.

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