Oct 2021

Scotland - UK Supreme Court rejects two Acts of Scottish Parliament to be non valid

Judges at the UK Supreme Court have ruled that provisions in two bills passed byteh Scottish Parliament were beyond that Parliament's powers.

Scottish Parliament unanimously backed the bills - which enshrine treaties on children's rights and local government in Scots law.

However after a challenge from UK law officers, judges said the legislation could affect Westminster's ability to make laws for Scotland.

The bills will now go back to the Scottish Pailiament to be reconsidered and amended , with the Scottish government saying it is committed to bringing them into law "at the earliest possible opportunity".

Opposition parties backed this, but accused Scottish ministers of playing "cynical political games" over the issue.

The challenge concerned two bills passed in the closing days of the previous parliamentary session, which both aimed to incorporate aspects of international treaties into Scots law.

  • The first was the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the Scottish government said would set a legal requirement for public authorities to comply with international standards on children's rights.
  • The second was the European Charter of Local Self-Government, which was put forward by former independent MSP Andy Wightman.

Neither bill was controversial at Holyrood, and both were passed unanimously by MSPs. However, the UK government did raise concerns about them, and submitted a challenge to the Supreme Court claiming they were beyond the remit of the devolved parliament.

UK law officers insisted the challenge was not based on the substance of the legislation - the UK government signed up to both of the treaties in question in the 1990s and says it is "deeply committed" to protecting children's rights - but on its potential impact.

Their submission to the court said the standards set by the bills could be applied to laws passed at Westminster as well as Holyrood - meaning the Scottish courts would have "extensive powers to interpret and scrutinise primary legislation passed by the sovereign UK parliament".

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