Supreme Court to hear UK challenge to two Holyrood bills

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LAW TVThe Scottish and UK governments are to face off at the Supreme Court over whether two bills passed by MSPs are within Holyrood’s powers.

The bills, which concern local government and children’s rights, were unanimously agreed by MSPs in March.

However, they were challenged by UK law officers, who say they could place obligations on UK ministers.

A panel of judges at the Supreme Court in London will hear arguments from the two sides on Monday and Tuesday.

The Welsh government is also represented in the case as a respondent, with wider questions about devolved powers at stake.

The two bills have a similar purpose – to incorporate international treaties which the UK has signed up to into Scots law.

The first is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill.

It was introduced by the Scottish government, aiming to set a legal requirement for public authorities to comply with certain standards on children’s rights – and giving Scottish courts the power to decide if legislation s compatible with them.

Only a small number of countries have incorporated the convention into domestic law, and Scotland would have been the first part of the UK to do so.

The second is the European Charter of Local Self-Government (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill, drawn up by independent MSP Andy Wightman – who lost his seat in May’s election.

Neither bill proved controversial at Holyrood, and both were passed unanimously by MSPs.

However, the UK government raised concerns about them, and after the final votes submitted a challenge to the Supreme Court – meaning the legislation cannot become law until the row is settled.

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