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Legislating by consent: how to revive the Sewel convention

Our panel discussed the Sewel convention and how Brexit has exposed its limitations as a guarantee of devolved autonomy.

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The Institute for Government has launched a new report on the status of the Sewel convention which sets out eight proposals for how to reform and strengthen the legislative consent process.

Under the Sewel convention, the UK parliament does not normally pass legislation on devolved matters without the consent of the institutions in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. Since 1999, consent has been given in this way for over 200 Acts of Parliament.

But Brexit has undermined the convention and exposed its limitations as a guarantee of devolved autonomy. Two key pieces of Brexit legislation have been passed without devolved consent, and a battle now looms over the UK Internal Market Bill.

On the panel to discuss these issues were:

  • Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP, Chair of the House of Commons Procedure Committee
  • Mick Antoniw MS, Chair of the Welsh Parliament Legislation, Constitution and Justice Committee
  • Pete Wishart MP, Chair of the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee and SNP Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
  • Akash Paun, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Government

The event was chaired by Dr Hannah White, Deputy Director of the Institute for Government.

We are grateful to the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust for its support of our research in this area.

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