House of Lords report warns further devolution plans rushed through without consideration for UK constitution
A parliamentary report has warned proposals for additional powers to be transferred to Scotland were rushed through without sufficient consultation or consideration for their effect on the rest of the UK.
The House of Lords constitution committee said in its report that the leaders of all major political parties “pre-empted any meaningful scrutiny” of the plans by either parliaments or the public.
The report also expressed “deep concern” at the short timeframe in which Lord Smith of Kelvin was told to complete his work.
The committee said this did not allow “adequate time for engagement and consultation” and expressed “astonishment” at the UK government’s failure to consider the implications for the rest of the UK of further devolution to Scotland.
It said the process culminating in the proposals being declared “does not meet the expected standard for implementing proposals for constitutional change” and that it “undermines confidence in the outcome”.
In addition, the committee’s report argued the UK parliament should not accept the significant constitutional changes as a “fait accompli” but should subject them to “the detailed scrutiny they require and any amendment that may be necessary”.
Lord Lang of Monkton, the committee chairman (pictured above), said: “The recommendations in the Smith Commission report clearly have profound constitutional implications for every part of the UK.
“However the UK parliament is expected to pass these proposals into law without significant amendment despite having been, in effect, excluded from the decision-making process.
“This is not the way to implement significant constitutional change.
“We were astonished to hear that the government have not properly considered the impact on the rest of the UK of implementing the Smith Commission proposals.
“Piecemeal, ad hoc changes to the Scottish devolution settlement without wider consideration of their impact could well destabilise the Union as a whole in the longer term.
“The major UK-wide political parties need urgently to devise and articulate a vision for the future shape of the Union and its devolution settlements.
“Without this, there cannot be any long-term constitutional stability.”
Angus Robertson, the SNP’s leader at Westminster (pictured right) said: “The Smith Commission’s recommendations were already underwhelming and were then watered down further by the UK government’s paper.
“Now we have unelected lords being grudging about even these reduced powers.
“The Lords report concludes with a call for the UK Parliament to ‘not simply accept’ more powers for Scotland.
“This follows on from a similar House of Commons report, and is the kind of out of touch approach that is doing such damage to all of the Westminster parties, and for which they may pay a heavy price for at the general election.”
Read the report here: Proposals for the devolution of further powers to Scotland.