A cross-party group of MPs on the Scottish Affairs Committee has called on the Government to set out which farming laws will be devolved and which will be subject to common frameworks after the UK leaves the EU.
In a newly-published report, the committee said any decisions on where powers lie should be taken in consultation with the devolved regions, and based on the premise all powers should be devolved ‘unless there is a good reason to reserve them’.
The MPs also demanded the Government make clear which powers would go to Scotland in time for the Third Reading of the EU Withdrawal Bill, which was originally expected before Christmas but could now be pushed back.
Scottish and Welsh First Ministers Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones had both previously threatened to derail the progress of the Bill because of a ‘power grab’ clause which would prevent the devolved regions from passing new laws in areas which were previously the EU’s responsibility, such as agriculture.
Committee chair Pete Wishart said: “We believe the Government needs to take urgent action to improve the EU Withdrawal Bill and provide greater clarity about the implications of this legislation for Scotland’s devolution settlement.
“Central to our recommendations is the importance of agreeing a way forward with the devolved administrations, and securing consent in relation to future UK-wide frameworks.
“We hope our report, which was agreed unanimously by our committee of SNP, Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs representing Scottish constituencies, will be of use to MPs as they consider the EU Withdrawal Bill and that the UK Government responds positively to the recommendations we have made.”
The committee’s report was published as Nicola Sturgeon met Prime Minister Theresa May for the first time since March to talk about the Bill’s progress.
Though Ms Sturgeon described the meeting as ‘constructive and cordial’, she told reporters she was ‘not yet’ reassured enough to recommend the Scottish Parliament give its consent to the Bill.
A spokesman for Number 10 said there would be a significant increase in decision-making powers for the devolved administrations as powers returned to the UK from Brussels.