The SNP Government need to take action to change the Scottish Parliament’s Standing Orders if they really want to oppose the Trade Union Bill currently being debated at Westminster.
That is the message from Neil Findlay, Scottish Labour MSP for the Lothians responding to comments made by First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon at the Unite union conference in Clydebank today (Sunday January17, 2016)
In her speech, the First Minister said the SNP Government would do “anything we can to defeat and frustrate the bill” adding that she would continue to press Prime Minister David Cameron to exempt Scotland from its provisions.
Following the speech Mr Findlay said: “These are just empty words from Nicola Sturgeon. Scottish Labour wanted to challenge the competence of this bill through a Legislative Consent Motion but that move was blocked by the Presiding Officer on legal advice from her officials.
“We now want the Parliament to change the Standing Orders and my colleague Mary Fee has written to the convener of the Standards and Procedures committee asking for a vote on this issue. My challenge to Nicola Sturgeon is for her and her party to back our call. If she doesn’t then her speech to Unite members will have been a completely cynical political ploy to try and curry favour with Britain’s biggest union.
“It is also worth noting that not one SNP MSP has yet signed my Parliamentary motion calling on the procedures to be changed to allow a Legislative Consent Motion to be debated.”Ends
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Last week, Scottish Labour MSP, Mary Fee, the Shadow spokesperson for Reform, wrote to the convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Standards and Procedures committee, Stewart Stevenson,seeking a change to Standing Orders
Letter from Mary Fee to Stewart Stevenson below.
Stewart Stevenson, Convener of the the Standards, Procedures and Petitions Committee.
As you will be aware there has been considerable interest and scrutiny regarding the UK Government’s proposed Trades Union Bill and its impact on devolved nations, in particular the responsibility for public sector workers.
Whilst the UK Government have decided not to consult appropriately with the Scottish Government on the consequences of this bill, the Scottish Government’s decision to seek an LCM on the issue suggests they too have sufficient legal advice to the contrary.
Unfortunately the wishes of the government – which there is wide spread support in the parliament for – on the matter were blocked by the Presiding Officer.
As I result I would ask that as Convener of our committee you provide the opportunity to vote on an immediate change of the Standing Orders, principally to insert a new Standing Order 9B.1.2 as follows: “If a Bill under consideration in the UK Parliament does not identify a requirement for a Legislative Consent Motion, a member (including a member of the Scottish Government) may lodge a motion seeking the Parliament’s consent to treat the Bill as a ‘relevant Bill’.”
I believe that this would all a fair and transparent procedure for any member to represent their constituents through a preliminary motion, which if passed would enable the member to proceed to a Legislative Consent Memorandum and finally a Legislative Consent Motion.
In the interests of transparency I will also be making this letter publicly available.
I look forward to your response.