Sewel motion

From Academic Kids

A Sewel motion is a motion passed by the Scottish Parliament, in which it agrees that the Parliament of the United Kingdom (Westminster) may pass legislation on a topic extending to Scotland over which the Scottish Parliament has legislative control.

It is used when Westminster is considering legislation extending only (or having provisions extending only) to England and Wales, and the Scottish Parliament, being in agreement with those provisions, wishes for Westminster to extend them to Scotland also, rather than requiring separate, similar legislation to be passed by the Scottish Parliament. It is also used when Westminster is considering legislation applying to Scotland but which relates to both devolved and reserved matters, where it would otherwise be necessary for the Scottish Parliament to legislate to complete the jigsaw.

This generally may be used, for non-controversial matters, for the purposes of legislative economy and clarity; it also may be used for more controversial matters, where the Scottish Executive does not wish to have the Scottish Parliament to consider the issue in detail, to avoid the political consequences, and to keep the legislative bickering to Westminster only.

The motions are named after Lord Sewel, the then Scottish Office minister, who announced the policy in the House of Lords during the passage of the Scotland Act 1998. Noting that the Act recognised the Parliamentary sovereignty of the UK Parliament, he said that the UK Government

"would expect a convention to be established that Westminster would not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters in Scotland without the consent of the Scottish Parliament."


To 21st February 2005, 63 Sewel motions had been passed by the Scottish Parliament, whose Procedures Committee is presently (March 2005) undertaking an inquiry into the use of Sewel motions and has heard evidence from Lord Sewel himself, the former First Minister of Scotland Mr Henry McLeish and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (in other words Deputy Secretary of State for Scotland) Mrs Anne McGuire MP.

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