IN 1998 the Scottish Parliament Bill was debated in the House of Commons meeting as a committee of the whole house. This process took 353 days and a total of 47 hours and 35 minutes.

In the House of Commons this week, in less than 15 minutes, many of those devolved powers have been clawed back to Westminster through the EU Withdrawal Bill. This is nothing short of an absolute outrage, with Westminster ripping up the devolution settlement and not even letting any MPs from Scotland speak in the debate, an affront to democracy ("SNP: May shows contempt for Scottish democracy", The Herald, June 13).

The Brexit Bill says that the "vast majority" of the 158 areas where policy in devolved areas is currently decided in Brussels will go directly to the Scottish and Welsh parliaments after Brexit. But it has also named 24 areas where it wants to retain power temporarily in the wake of Britain's exit from the EU, including in areas such as agriculture, fisheries, food labelling and public procurement. This will last for up to seven years, during which time key powers of the Scottish Parliament will be frozen, without its consent.

For two decades decisions made by the Scottish Parliament on issues affecting devolution have been final, but the UK Government has now driven a coach and horses through the constitutional settlement and imposed its will in the face of an overwhelming vote in the Scottish Parliament, with only the Tories opposing this at Holyrood.

The Tories campaigned against devolution in 1997 and are now actively dismantling it; a dark day for devolution.

Alex Orr,

Flat 2, 77 Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh.

WHAT a farce. Tuesday’s so-called “debate” in the House of Commons on Tuesday, with not enough time for several SNP members to speak and 11 successive votes each taking over 15 minutes. At the end long-winded Labour and Government front bench speakers used up all the remaining time, preventing the SNP leader or any Scottish member from even being able to address the House on the subject of a clause specifically relating to Scotland.

Earlier in the so-called “debate” much valuable time had been eaten up with a long series of separate votes, some to remove amendments introduced by the House of Lords and others introduced by Labour, instead of dealing with many of these in one or two comprehensive motions. For each vote MPs had to trail out from the debating Chamber, or in most cases from the many bars and dining rooms or perhaps even their working offices, and queue up to cast their votes in the antiquated way of having their names ticked off on a sheet, on matters of which they had not heard one word of the debate.

At the end several SNP members wishing to speak were time-barred from contributing on matters directly affecting their constituents. Their leader Ian Blackford protested in vain to the Speaker, who said it was up to the front benches how much time they left for others to make their specific points. The debate ended in frustration and acrimony. It was yet another clear example of many elected members of the UK national parliament being frustrated by the arcane procedures and traditions of the House of Commons, most of which were obviously designed for a two-party system.

Lengthy protests to the Speaker were dead-batted away on the grounds that it was up to the two front benches to amend or improve their procedures, and had nothing to do with him. He seemed to find the whole affair quite amusing, when in fact it was an insult and frustration to the smaller parties and a very poor demonstration of parliamentary democracy in action.

Iain AD Mann,

7 Kelvin Court, Glasgow.

SO, what were we told during our independence referendum? We were told that Holyrood would be the strongest devolved parliament in the world; that new powers would be coming to it: that Scotland would lead the UK, not leave it: that stronger, safer change would happen: that Scotland’s voice would be heard: that the UK was made up of four equal nations, and so on – the range of available quotes volunteered by senior Unionist politicians is almost embarrassing. But all have been reneged on.

If/when there is another referendum, what will Unionists say? It seems that every statement/promise/vow by any Unionist of any party that was given to Scots in 2014 and since, was a lie. And not one Scottish MP at Westminster even got a say in the ending of devolved government in Scotland.

Shameful stuff. But Scotland will have another chance, I’m sure. I’m also sure we will take it.

GR Weir,

17 Mill Street,


THE SNP walks out of Parliament and Ian Blackford talks about a"constitutional crisis". The only "constitutional crisis" is of the SNP’s own making, having whipped up "outrage" about a non-existent "power grab". What a pity that Scottish Labour and Liberal Democrat MSPs gave this confection their support – and therefore provided aid and comfort to the SNP – albeit for their own motives.

Scotland will receive all the powers returning from Brussels in devolved areas, a small minority later than the rest. This is what should exercise MSPs, given how inept the SNP Government has shown itself to be at exercising the powers that it already has.

Jill Stephenson,

Glenlockhart Valley, Edinburgh.

OF course the EU Withdrawal Bill has been passed by MPs, despite the Scottish Parliament not granting its legislative consent. Westminster is sovereign and Holyrood is a partially devolved domestic administration.

Nicola Sturgeon and her Westminster lieutenant, Ian Blackford, may have reworked this into another faux anti-UK grievance, but their stance is arrant nonsense.

The SNP establishment is making a mountain from a molehill. Brexit means the vast majority of 158 new powers come to Holyrood, with 24 retained – temporarily – by Westminster to preserve the integrity of the UK single market. This is a market of no interest to the SNP politically, yet vital to Scottish jobs.

This isn't about an attack on devolution – it's about ensuring the UK market functions post-Brexit. The SNP is manufacturing a constitutional grievance about diddly squat.

Martin Redfern,

Woodcroft Road, Edinburgh.