Former Lord President and Deputy President of the Supreme Court, Lord Hope of Craighead has revealed he sought an amendment to the Scotland Bill last year that would have put the Sewel Convention on a statutory footing, The Times reports.
Lord Hope’s amendment stated: “The parliament of the United Kingdom may not pass any measure applying to Scotland that makes provision about a devolved matter without the consent of the Scottish parliament.”
However, the measure was successfully opposed by the Advocate General, Lord Keen of Elie QC and was never put to a vote.
Addressing peers, Lord Hope said the amendment might have gained traction if there were any SNP peers in the House of Lords.
“Because they are not present in the House of Lords — much to various people’s regret — they weren’t there to explain themselves,” he said. “It would have been very helpful if there had been somebody there. I had to be careful because I am non-political.
“To have the SNP in the House where so much work is done, would have been an asset. They assume the Lords is not democratic, but it certainly is, because nothing can be assented without the support of a minister in the Commons.”
Of the Supreme Court’s judgment this week, he added: “I can’t quarrel with the judgment — they’ve taken the view that it’s called a convention and that’s an end to the story, which is disappointing.
“Those on the Smith Commission who wanted it to be put into a form which could be enforced should have been more explicit about it.”