THE UK Government’s flagship Brexit Bill has “dispensed with" the Scottish Parliament and cuts across the devolved settlement, Lord Steel of Aikwood, the former Holyrood Presiding Officer, has told peers.

During the first main debate of the EU Withdrawal Bill in the House of Lords, the Second Reading, the Liberal Democrat peer referred to the concerns in Edinburgh, Cardiff and London about a “power-grab” by Whitehall and made clear he would bring amendments forward to rectify the matter.

So too did Lord Hope of Craighead, the retired Scottish judge, who described the legislation as being in a “sorry state”.

The crossbencher said: "Others have criticised some of the clauses containing those powers as amounting to Henry VIII clauses. As far as I know, Henry VIII never got to Scotland. Oliver Cromwell did and he and the forces under his command did quite a lot of damage while he was there.

"So these clauses have a touch of Oliver Cromwell about them too," he declared.

Lord Steel said the reference to Cromwell was a “devastating reflection” on the state of the bill because the historical figure “dispensed with Parliament altogether”.

The former Liberal leader went on: “What this bill does is dispense with the Scottish Parliament. That’s why it is unacceptable and why we must have an amendment brought forward at committee stage which puts right a totally unsatisfactory bill as it stands at the moment.”

Lord Steel also said it was unacceptable for the SNP, in government in Scotland, to be voiceless in the Lords. He suggested that if a recommendation to limit the terms of peers to just 15 years were agreed by the UK Government, then he hoped the Nationalists would reconsider their position and “bring their voices to this chamber”.

In the meantime, he stressed peers from other parties would have to represent the concerns expressed by Holyrood.

Baroness Evans, the Lords Leader, insisted the Conservative Government was making "good progress" with the Scottish and Welsh administrations on how devolved powers were treated in the bill. Ministers will bring forward an amendment to allay concerns of a power-grab; something which they forcefully deny exists.

"I reiterate that no power whatsoever that is currently exercised by the devolved administrations will be removed by this bill," declared Lady Evans.

"We have repeatedly made clear our expectation that there will be a significant increase in the powers of the devolved administrations as a result of leaving the EU," she added.

On Monday, Michael Russell, the Scottish Government’s Brexit Minister, briefed peers about his and his colleagues’ “power-grab” concerns, stressing how the country was now in a “deepening” constitutional crisis.

During exchanges in the Upper House, Labour’s Lord Foulkes confirmed he intended to put down an amendment to block the bill should Holyrood and Cardiff refuse to give their consent. “It will make it mandatory that it can’t go through unless the devolved parliaments agreed,” he explained.

In other contributions:

*Lord Mandelson, the former Labour Cabinet minister, warned against the Government taking the UK out of the EU in "just about any vandalistic way it chooses";

*Lord Strathclyde, the ex-Conservative Lords leader, warned peers against "gumming up the legislative works";

*Lord Adonis, the former Labour Transport Secretary, proposed a rare motion of regret that the bill did not provide for a second referendum on the terms of the final Brexit deal;

*Lord Tebbit, the onetime Tory Cabinet Minister, accused the BBC of impartiality, saying it was becoming a "supporter of a foreign organisation called the European Union".

*Lord Bridges, the former Brexit Minister, accused Theresa May’s Government of having no Brexit vision, saying: “My fear is we will get meaningless waffle in a political declaration in October”;

*Lord Pearson, who once led Ukip, argued the UK should withhold cash from the EU "if they don't behave themselves" and

*Lord Campbell, the former Lib Dem leader, likened Tory arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg to Maximilian Robespierre, the zealous French revolutionary.