Sewel motiona motion made in the Scottish Parliament which remits consideration of matters devolved to the Scottish Parliament by the UK Parliament, back to the UK Parliament. The procedure is named after Lord Sewel, the junior Scottish Office minister at the time of the progress of the Scotland Act. While the UK Parliament remained sovereign over even devolved matters it was stated by him that the government could see that there could be instances where it would be more convenient for legislation on devolved matters to be passed by the UK Parliament, but that by convention that would not normally happen without the consent of the Scottish Parliament. It became established by a Memorandum of Understanding between the UK Government and the devolved administrations (the Scottish Executive, the Welsh Assembly Cabinet and the Northern Ireland Executive) and was further detailed in a series of Devolution Guidance Notes. It accordingly operates in two directions. Sometimes Westminster may require to check that the Scottish aspect has been taken into account; sometimes the Scottish Executive has taken the opportunity of sending back to Westminster matters which they could have dealt with themselves but which are thought to be better considered in a UK context. The Sewel motion itself is passed in the Scottish Parliament ‘authorizing’ the UK process. It proceeds in form as an ordinary motion.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006