Relations between the UK and devolved governments

Parliamentary sovereignty is the principal feature upon which all of the UK’s constitutional arrangements are based. However, where the devolved institutions of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are concerned, Westminster’s sovereignty is offset by a convention – the Sewel Convention – that ensures the UK government will not interfere in areas of devolved competence. In April 2023, the Scottish government announced that it was a seeking a judicial review of the Secretary of State for Scotland’s decision to make an Order under Section 35 of the Scotland Act to prevent the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill from proceeding to royal assent. The Sewel Convention’s ‘last resort’ of a UK government veto to block legislation it disagreed with appeared to members of the Scottish government as a deeply concerning development, since they argued that the UK government had made ‘no representations throughout the 9-month passage of the bill’.