EFA calls on UK Government to respect Scotland’s devolution settlement

Following the news that the UK Government will block a law agreed upon by the Scottish Parliament, the European Free Alliance calls on the UK Government to respect the mandate afforded to the Scottish Parliament and Scotland’s devolution settlement.

The debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament located in Edinburgh.

An unprecedented move

Yesterday, in an unprecedented move the UK government announced that it will block a law agreed upon by a majority vote in the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Secretary – the UK Government minister responsible for Scottish affairs – will enact a ‘Section 35 order’ to overrule the powers of the Scottish Parliament and block this legislation from coming into force. It is the first time in the 25-year history of Scottish devolution that a UK Government has blocked Scottish legislation.

EFA, being the party for democracy, self-determination, and equality, believes that such a move is a direct attack on the autonomy afforded to Scotland through the Scotland Act. States should not abuse their constitutional powers to create conflict over political differences.

The Scottish Parliament is elected by the Scottish people, and decisions made in that parliament should not be overruled from above. The law in question, known as the ‘Gender Recognition Bill’, was the result of six years of consultation and was debated at length in the Scottish Parliament before being approved by a majority vote.

Unacceptable to use minorities as a tool to sow division

EFA also condemns the use of minorities as a tool to attempt to sow division. Notwithstanding the differences of opinion over the bill, it is unacceptable that the rights of vulnerable communities are being used to create a constitutional conflict.

The solution to differences is dialogue, not conflict. Autonomous governments and their mandates must be respected. It is unthinkable that once again in Europe a government has used such a mechanism to overrule a democratically elected autonomous legislature.