We’ve all had that moment where we’ve done a transaction with our card, normally for the 46p pack of chewing gum you are buying (just after the bank approved a very large payment on your account for the new sofa you bought). Somehow the bank has this ludicrous idea that fraudsters are going to raid your account one pack of chewing gun at a time! Ding! Rejected! it comes up on the screen and you are left red-faced in a queue of shoppers. Of course, the very angry phone call then ensues to the bank. A call in which they tell you:
A. It’s a bank holiday and the department that deals with re-activating your card is on holiday.
B. The department closed 26 seconds ago.
C. Unfortunately, the systems are down!.
We’ve all had that moment in our lives where we have wanted to grab the nearest banker, responsible or not and ring their bloody neck (metaphorically speaking). You know what I am talking about! I’m the person who decided to go back to using a corded phone because I had already embedded 3 cordless ones in the fireplace and was afraid the next one might hit the TV or something valuable!. Don’t deny that you have been piping hot angry when a situation like this exists.
Now that you are in the right frame of mind, let’s examine what the hell this has to do with the Great Repeal Bill.
Well, your anger in the bank situation is not because you are not getting what you want, it is because you are more aggravated by the fact that the process is completely out of your hands. This pales in comparison to the frustration and announces you would feel if you knew what the Great Repeal Bill is all about.
When you process a transaction on your card you do so in the shop, the shop has a contract with a card authorisation company such as streamline, they have direct links to the bank and the banks are regulated by the Bank of England. So you stick your card into the shop’s machine. It sends a signal to streamline asking them to contact your bank for authorisation. Streamline contacts the bank and asks for authorisation. The bank gives or refuses that authorisation and then the banks exchange funds via a big network which is all operated and maintained by the Bank of England. Of course, a message then comes back all the way down the chain from bank to authorisation company to shop to the terminal which says declined or accepted.
The current constitutional arrangement is kind of the same in a way. You have you, your local councils (the shop) the Scottish Government and Parliament (the authorisations company), Westminster (the bank) and it is all regulated by the? You guessed it! The EU.
The difference with our constitutional arrangement is that the Scottish Government is in control of some transactions itself without authorisation from Westminster.
In Scots law, we have a term “subordinate legislation”. In simple terms, Most laws are “subordinate” to others. A perfect example of an umbrella set of laws (or in this case a convention) is the European Convention on Human Rights, the single defining charter of fundamental rights and freedoms in Europe, which every EU citizen is entitled to.
The European Convention is written into UK law using the “Human Rights Act 1998”. The Human Rights Act is subordinate to the European Convention, which means that if something in the Human Rights Act is not compatible with the European Convention, then the European Courts can instruct the UK Government to modify, change or scrap that conflict. Any law passed in the UK must conform to the Human Rights Act and the European Convention so:
UK Law is subordinate to the European Convention.
because: The Human Rights Act 1998 is subordinate to the European Convention on Human Rights, consequentially any Law in the UK written under the Human Rights Act is subordinate to both the Human Rights Act and the European Convention.
Scottish Laws which apply to only Scotland are then classified as subordinate to UK wide Laws.
This structure is designed to create oversight. For example, the Scottish Government passes a law, a person can challenge the law under any Scottish legislation or legislation above it to which it is subordinate (including the ECHR) in the Scottish Courts. If the Scottish Courts don’t overturn it then the person can go to the UK Supreme court. If they don’t overturn it, a person can take it to the European Courts.
When dealing with UK Laws, a person can challenge UK law in the Scottish Courts (because of the way devolution works), then appeal to the UK Supreme court and then onto Europe. In some cases Scottish Courts might deem the legality to be a devolution issue in which case they will not rule on it but instead refer it straight to the UK supreme court.
Now just to throw a spanner in the works. I have to tell you that the devolution settlement for Scotland is so complicated and convoluted in order for Westminster to retain overriding control over Scotland resources. You can make all of the decisions you want but if you don’t have control over the purse strings, well, you become very restricted in what you can do.
So! The easiest way to have arranged Scotland for proper devolution which was simple and fair would have been federalism or what is termed as full fiscal autonomy. In a nutshell, Scotland would have raised its own tax and made its own spending priorities on everything, we would then contribute financially each year to the UK in terms of defence, foreign affairs and other joint things. We would have had a Parliament in each country which dealt specifically with the needs of the constituent country and Westminster would have been a federal parliament which dealt with UK wide laws.
But as it is, we have a convoluted and insane system where we have some things devolved but other parts which are not (in order to keep control at Westminster), devolution on some things but funding for them decided at westminster etc.
In a nutshell, the Scottish Parliament can make a raft of decisions but ultimately Westminster has enough control over every aspect of primary legislation that it can squash any decision we make by transferring funding or tweaking a UK law etc.
This is whether the European Union comes in. The European Courts are not just watching and monitoring devolution, European Law actively is what devolution is based on in terms of ensuring the UK Government cannot just do what it wants without oversight. The same is true of the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland. There are EU policies which apply directly to devolved countries like Scotland. Unfortunately, the devolution arrangement with Westminster makes this a huge problem.
In many cases, because of the insane way Westminster setup the Scottish Parliament, we have Scottish Laws and devolved competencies which are part decided in Scotland and part controlled by London and underwritten by EU law. Now that works as long as we have the EU as the regulator (so to speak) and they are standing over Westminster with a big stick saying “You can’t do that!”
This brings us neatly into the First part of what the Great Repeal Bill is “supposed” to do.
- Transferring all “current” EU law into UK law to effectively freeze UK legislation in place.
Understand that leaving the EU is a massive undertaking. Almost every single law in the past 50 years has been influenced or protected by EU law, particularly the European Convention on Human Rights. The first thing that the Great Repeal Bill is supposed to do is transfer all of the current EU laws which affect the UK into UK Law. Basically, they are going to take the EU laws and tipex out the EU logo and slap a House of Commons Crest on it. Or that is what they would like you to believe. They say that this is necessary so the EU can continue to do what it does with no affect to UK laws. This gives the Government in the UK a stable platform to begin to customise to the regrexit Britain.
In reality, however, it is not necessary. Repealing these laws into UK law has nothing to do with the EU because things like the European Convention etc have never been exclusive to the EU, infact Russia is a signatory to the ECHR, as are many other countries outside of the bloc. The repeal act could have simply been for the laws which would not be applicable but this Act calls for the repeal of all EU laws back to the UK. That means it has more to do with the UK government’s intention to pull us out of the European Convention on Human Rights to “replace it with a UK Bill of Rights” and out of the ECJ. Let me be clear. You are not simply transferring EU law into UK law, this is about changing the UK Government from simple legislators to both legislator and regulator of legislator. It is the equivelant of the police policing the police or “healer heal thyself”.
IN A NUTSHELL, YOU ARE ABOUT TO LOSE THE EUROPEAN COURTS AS DEFENDERS OF YOUR FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE TORIES WILL BECOME SELF DECLARED ARBITERS OF YOUR CORE CIVIL RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS. THE BILL OF RIGHTS WILL BE “WHATEVER RIGHTS THE TORIES WANT TO GIVE YOU!”. IF YOU ARE NOT ALREADY SCARED THEN YOU SHOULD BE!The ability to “repair deficiencies” in EU Law.
2. The ability to “repair deficiencies” in EU Law.
This is what the press defines it as. Labelled as a way to “make the law more suitable for the UK” when in reality if it wasn’t for the EU and the over-riding conventions like the ECHR, it is likely we would find ourselves in a UK that is akin to something out of a Charles Dickens novel. The truth is that make laws more “suitable” in the UK ultimately means “making laws more suitable for the incumbent Government of the UK”. At the moment, that’s the Tories. So in a nutshell, the repair of deficiencies is more making changes for the Tories vested interests than it is about protecting you or me and nobody cannot say that the Tories are only interested in the own political agenda. Afterall, just in the past 2 months we were forced into a general election to benefit the Tory party (which didn’t work so well) then we saw the Tories put the Northern Ireland Assembly & the peace process in jeopardy all while taking £1bn from vital service across the UK to give the DUP a very large bribe for their support. A party which is as right wing as they come!
3. The power for the Government to create new organisations and new laws without parliament.
Yes! You read that right! In other words, the UK Government (The Tories) will have the right to create new laws and new regulators in the UK without the consent of Parliament. I don’t need to say any more than that.
4. No provision for automatic transfer of devolved competencies.
So, on one hand, Scotland has a whitepaper from the Tories which says they intend to sacrifice Scottish Industries for a better deal with the EU (Including Fishing) and on the other we have a Great Repeal Bill which will make the Tories judge and jury over every devolved competence which was regulated by the EU, in other words, the UK Government will have repealed Scottish devolved competencies by proxy giving them overriding control of Scotlands policies.
Like the vow, the promise for Scotland to get “sweeping new powers” has dissolved to dust and has the consistency of Wet pasta!. We’re going to be stiffed at both ends.
Just like the bank, The councils (our shop) will go to the Scottish Parliament (the authorations processor) for money / funds / permission etc. But they will be unable to do anything because the UK Government (the bank) will have overriding control over things which should have been devolved. It’s a power grab! Plain and simple! It’s annoying when the bank won’t play ball, but it is much more dangerous when it is a government that is doing it, a Government which intends to rip us out of the Convention on Human Rights and Scrap the Human Rights Act, combined with the power to make up laws without parliamentary consent.
Orwells, 1984 was supposed to be a political commentary, not an instruction manual!
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