Nicola Sturgeon, along with other MSPs, has vocally condemned the UK government’s decision to unanimously refer two bills passed by Holyrood to the supreme court.
Weeks before going into recess, the Scottish parliament passed two pieces of legislation, the United Nations convention on the rights of the child bill, and the European charter for local self-government bill.
These bills were then referred to the supreme court by the UK government. According to a government spokesperson, this is because there were concerns that the practicalities of both pieces of legislation could put legal responsibilities on UK ministers.
In a statement, the government expressed concerns that “parts [of the legislation] are outwith the legislative competence of the Scottish parliament.” In essence, the government has subjected a bill passed through the Scottish parliament relating to Scottish local authorities to the UK supreme court due to concerns over whether or not this was within the power of the Scottish parliament to do unilaterally as it implied possible risk of legal involvement from the UK.
Naturally, the action has prompted outrage from Scottish politicians, with Nicola Sturgeon tweeting, “The UK Tory government is going to court to challenge a law passed by scotparl unanimously. And for what? To protect their ability to legislate/act in ways that breach children’s rights in Scotland. Politically catastrophic, but also morally repugnant.”
Scottish ministers are accusing Westminster of trying to undermine the rights of children by subjecting the bills to the supreme court after they had passed through Scottish Parliament unopposed and certified independently as being within the powers of the Scottish Parliament.
John Swinney, deputy first minister for Scotland has pledged to fight the challenge, accusing the UK government’s actions as “morally repugnant”, and “deeply menacing”.