This week, the Scottish Parliament refused to consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill – and the UK government is now being urged to “respect Parliament’s decision and remove the proposed power grab from the EU Withdrawal Bill.” Labour, the Greens and the Lib Dems joined the SNP in an overwhelming rejection of the Withdrawal Bill as currently drafted leaving only the Conservatives isolated in support.
The rejection of the withdrawal bill by the Scottish Parliament means the UK Government must now act to remove Clause 11 from the bill or make further changes to secure Holyrood’s consent before the EU Withdrawal Bill is passed by the Commons. If the UK Government don’t take steps to amend the bill, it will be breaking the conventions that have governed nearly 20 years of devolution.
Elsewhere at Holyrood and MSPs on the local government committee have called for widespread changes to planning reforms. The Scottish Government has put forward a Planning Bill in a bid to overhaul the current system and give local people more of a say, but the committee said not enough was being done to soothe community frustrations over parts of the planning system. Members also questioned some powers being taken on by ministers, and called for one section to be removed entirely. Planning Minister Kevin Stewart MSP said he would respond to the committee’s recommendations in due course.
On economic news, Scotland’s private sector has reported its strongest rate of expansion since last October, according to the latest IHS Markit Scotland PMI report. It found that April’s improvement was supported by a “solid inflow” of new business and stronger employment gains, and attributed the upturn to an improving service sector, as manufacturing production fell for a third straight month. However, it also signalled sharper rises in input costs and output prices.
In the same week that STV has announced plans to close its loss-making STV2 channel, the BBC has said that its new, dedicated TV channel for Scotland will go live in February next year. It had initially been planned to start broadcasting this autumn, but BBC Scotland director Donalda MacKinnon said “coming on air early in the new year was the best option for us, audiences and our suppliers”.
And finally … Spare a thought for a Scottish MP who has fallen victim to identity theft by a suspected drug dealer in Manchester. Jamie Stone, the Lib Dem MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, said he was initially accused of having been in a car crash in Salford after being contacted by Salford police. MPs greeted Mr Stone’s announcement with calls of “free the Caithness one”.
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