The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) and the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) are asking Scottish and Welsh MPs to back the cross-party amendments to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill drafted jointly by the Scottish and Welsh Governments.
While both organisations believe there may be a case for some shared UK frameworks post-Brexit, both have concerns about the Bill as it stands and fear it represents a challenge to assumptions about devolution – namely that power not explicitly reserved should be automatically devolved to the Scottish and Welsh administrations.
John Downie, Director of Public Affairs at SCVO, said: “The amendments proposed are closely aligned with both SCVO and WCVA’s thinking on this matter. We have consistently pushed to enhance the powers of devolved parliaments – where it makes sense to do so – and believe more devolved powers would better enable Scottish and Welsh Ministers to react to unique regional challenges and shape tailored solutions. Indeed, Brexit actually affords an opportunity to revisit the discussion about where power should ideally rest.
“Third sector organisations in both Scotland and Wales enjoy a ‘critical friend’ relationship with both their devolved administrations and all parties from across the political spectrum. We feel the transfer of powers to the devolved administrations would make it easier for the sector to influence their use in a positive way.”
Ruth Marks, Chief Executive of WCVA, added: “Wales and the third sector face many unique challenges as a consequence of Brexit. Devolution has encouraged cross-sectoral working and has enabled the third sector to have close engagement with the governing institutions in Wales in relation to policy development, implementation, scrutiny and the promotion of equality and human rights. Existing mechanisms valued by the sector for engagement and influencing could be undermined if powers are removed from Wales as a result of this Bill.
While the UK Government argue that their approach to the Bill dramatically simplifies the process of transferring powers from the EU, it is felt by both SCVO and WCVA that, in its current form, the lack of transparency surrounding decision making and the stock transfer of powers from the legislature to the executive is a retrograde step.